Military memoirs and histories are some of the most treasured possessions for veterans, their families, and book collectors alike. The tradition of chronicling conflicts goes back at least to the 1st century, when the Jewish historian Josephus documented the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in the year 70.

Books on military strategy go back even further, most famously to Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War,” which dates to the 6th century BCE. Despite being more than 2,500 years old, the document is still studied by military scholars and personnel. For example, it is required reading for staff sergeants in the U.S. Marine Corps.

In the 19th century, the Civil War produced untold volumes documenting that storied struggle. During the war, “Harper’s Weekly,” a magazine based in New York City, published accounts of the fighting from the battlefield, complete with maps and engravings.

After the war, in 1875, D. Appleton & Co. first published “Memoirs of General William T. Sherman. By Himself.” For almost the next 40 years, numerous editions of Sherman’s memoirs would be reissued. Some of these editions were published by Charles L. Webster & Co., which was co-owned by author Mark Twain. In 1885, Webster would also release a two-volume set of memoirs by former U.S. President and Civil War hero Ulysses S. Grant.

Also notable at the end of the 19th century are the histories written by Elizabeth B. Custer, the widow of General George Armstrong Custer, who met his maker in 1876 at the Battle of Little Big Horn. After his death, Mrs. Custer made it her mission to bring her husband’s successes in what were then called the Indian Wars to light. Her three works were “Boots and Saddles” (Harper & Brothers, 1885), “Tenting on the Plains” (Webster, 1887), and “Following the Guidon” (Harper & Brothers, 1890).

In the second decade of the 20th century, the Great War, as it was known before people were forced to refer to it as World War I, proved the source of countless works of literature. Numerous books were published during the war, from “Nothing of Importance” by Bernard Adams to Roy Bridges’s “The Immortal Dawn,” which was based on diaries written by two Australian soldiers during the battle at Gallipoli. One title often associated with World War I, but not a war book per se, is “The Good Soldier” by Ford Madox Ford, which is sought for its extremely rare cover.

Many more titles were published in the 1920s and ’30s, including Ernest Hemingway's novel "A Farewell To Arms" and Erich Maria Remarques’s “All Quiet On the Western Front,” both from 1929. The conflict also spurred poets, from Rupert Brooke (“1914 and Other Poems,” 1915) to Wilfred Owens (“Poems,” 1920)...

Similarly, World War II produced chroniclers on the ground as well as historians and novelists. Bill Mauldin’s three years with the 45th Division of the U.S. Army produced the “dogfaces” Willie and Joe, who appeared in the Army’s publication “Stars and Stripes” before they were collected for Mauldin’s debut book, “Up Front” from 1945. After the war, between 1948 and 1953, the wartime Prime Minister of Great Britain, Winston Churchill, wrote his six-volume opus, "The Second World War," which earned him a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953.

Around the same time, in 1951, novelist Herman Wouk penned “The Caine Mutiny,” which won the Pulitzer Prize and was adapted into both a play and film, the latter starring Humphrey Bogart as Captain Queeg. Joseph Heller “Catch-22,” 1961, was also made into a memorable movie, while Wouk’s subsequent World War II novels—“The Winds of War” in 1971 and its sequel, “War and Remembrance,” 1978—were made into TV mini-series.

Other postwar writers looked back to the Civil War. Shelby Foote's 1952 historical novel, "Shiloh," devoted itself entirely to the Battle of Shiloh that took place one year into the conflict in Tennessee. Foote followed up his novel with a three-part history called "The Civil War: A Narrative," which was published between 1958 and 1974.

More recently, conflicts in Korea, Vietnam, and the Middle East have produced informative and moving works of literature, from James Webb’s “Fields of Fire,” 1979, to Denis Johnson’s “Tree of Smoke,” 2007.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Great War Dust Jackets

Great War Dust Jackets

Alan Hewer's comprehensive site is devoted to World War I books and dust jackets from 1914 to 1939. Most of the boo… [read review or visit site]

This resource for historic arms and armour collectors provides exhaustive information on modern reproductions (cust… [read review or visit site]

Google Book Search

Google Book Search

Want to do one quick search and pull up the mother lode of vintage books? Try Google Book Search, a database filled… [read review or visit site]

Bruce Black's gallery of paperback book covers from the 1940s and 50s. With help from numerous contributors, he's a… [read review or visit site]

The Civil War

The Civil War

Paul McWhorter’s amazing reference site tells the story of the Civil War through high resolution scans of Harpers… [read review or visit site]

Mikes Tanks

Mikes Tanks

Mike Seeber’s extensive collection of over 500 diecast tanks and military vehicles, dating back to WWII. Browse b… [read review or visit site]

Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Black Cross, Red Star: The Air War Over The Eastern Front V.1 - Bergstrom - Oop!Antique Revolutionary War Era Children's Chapbook Admiral Howe & Hood On Covers1722 Architecture Castle Military Fortification Palace Engineering Design MapsRobert E Lee 4 Volume Set By Douglas Freeman Easton Press Civil War SeriesJagdwaffe - Luftwaffe Colours 5/2 - War In The East 1944-1945 - Rare & Oop!Abraham Lincoln War Years 4 Volume Set Sandburg Easton Press Civil War Series1704 Chivalric & Religious Orders Knights Templar Crusades Military Heraldry Civil War Era 1861-85 Signatures Berks County Pa Officials Senators Congress Yqz1650 Sir Walter Raleigh 1st Edition War Shipping Navy Voyage Guyana Military SeaBlack Cross, Red Star: The Air War Over The Eastern Front V.2 - Bergstrom - Oop!In The Firestorm Of The Last Years Of The War - Ii. Ss-panzercorps / 9. & 10. SsBlack Cross, Red Star: The Air War Over The Eastern Front V.3 - Bergstrom - Oop!“u.s. Military Automatic Pistols 1894-1920” Beautiful Reference Book Jagdwaffe - Luftwaffe Colours 3/3 - War Over The Desert - Rare & Oop!War & Peace Easton Press Collector's Edition Leo TolstoyA Stillness At Appomattox By Bruce Catton Easton Press Civil War SeriesAntique World War Ii Household Recipes Cook BookKilling The Rising Sun : How America Vanquished World War Ii Japan Bill O'reilly1537 Homer Iliad Latin First Divo Edition Trojan War Greek Myths Ezra Pound Rare“military Rifles Of Japan 1897-1945” Book-1st Edition-signed By The AuthorNormandy 1944: German Military Organisation - Zetterling - Jj. Fedorowicz - Rare1863 Civil War Letter From A Soldier In The 176th PennsylvaniaJagdwaffe - Luftwaffe Colours 3/4 - The War In Russia Jan-oct 1942 - Rare & Oop!The 388th At War - Edward J. Huntzinger - Limited Edition - Rare & Oop!Easton Press Photographic History Of The Civil War In 10 Volumes Leather Bound1681 English Civil War Ireland Memoirs Castlehaven Leather Cromwell CatholicsRare 1896 From Manassas To Appomattox Civil War In America James Longstreet CsaRaf & Rcaf Aircraft Nose Art In World War Ii - Simonsen - Hikoki - Superb & Oop!The Croatian Air Force In The Second World War - Tihomir Likso & Danko CanakBattle Cry Of Freedom 2 Volume Set James Mcpherson Easton Press Civil War SeriesJagdwaffe - Luftwaffe Colours 4/3 - War In Russia Nov 1942-dec 1943 - Rare & OopKilling The Rising Sun : How America Vanquished World War Ii Japan (hardcover)Tiger At War - Waldemar Trojca & Karlheinz Munch - Trojca Pubs - Superb & Rare!1889 Antique God Bible Jesus Holy Land War Crusades Martyrs Sin Virtue Art AngelCirca 1859-1865 Massive Archive Handwritten Letters Civil War Slaves Hung RareThe Belgian Air Service In The First World War - Walter Pieters - Incredible Ref1905 Photo Illustrated Russo Japanese War Book Russia Korea China Japan MilitaryThe 367th Fighter Group In World War Ii - P.r. Moody - Great Unit History - RareFor Free India: Indian Soldiers In Germany And Italy During The Second World WarThe Caucasus And The Oil: The German-soviet War In The Caucasus 1942/43 - Rare!Record Connecticut Men War Rebellion Civil 1861-1865 1889 Military AdjutantU.s. Amtracs And Amphibians At War 1941-45 - Steven J. Zaloga - Concord - ScarceOld Rare Sitting Bull And The Indian War-1891- By W. Fletcher Johnson 606 Pages“blitzkrieg: The Mp40 Maschinenpistole Of World War Ii” Book By Frank IannamicoBattle At Bull Run By William C Davis Easton Press Civil War SeriesFolio Society -alan Moorehead- Desert War Triology 3 Vols.- New In Shrink WrapGerman Half-tracks Of World War Two Vol.2 - De Sisto - Concord - Great Ref Book!War & Peace Easton Press Collector's Edition Leo TolstoyLeviathan Wakes Caliban's War Abaddon's Gate James S.a. Corey Expanse Signed Set1876 American Revolution Revolutionary War Patriots Loyalists Woman Soldier ArmyThe Tanks At Flers: An Account Of The First Use Of Tanks In War - Trevor Pidgeon1866 Antique Leather Holy Bible Lippincott Post Civil War Era Small Purse Sz1905 Rare Confederate Museum Richmond Virginia Catalogue Civil War Relics N/r! World War Ii Bulletproof Metal Pocket Wwii Holy Bible American 1945Personal Memoirs Of U. S. Grant. Civil War Two Volumes Copyright 1885 Ulysses1862 Beadle's Dime Biography Civil War General George B. Mcclellan, Number 12Eikon Basilike *c1649* Charles I. English Civil War Prayers Gauden1865- Life And Death In Rebel Prisons- Civil War- Csa Union- Illustrated History1886 1st Edition The Great Conspiracy Its Origin & History Civil War Illustrated Confederate Military History, Vol.v 1899 1st Ed South Carolina