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]

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]

myArmoury.com

myArmoury.com

This resource for historic arms and armour collectors provides exhaustive information on modern reproductions (cust… [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]

Bookscans.com

Bookscans.com

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]

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    

Reign Queen Anne *1745* Rapin De Thoyras England Battle Plans Plates History WarBindings Duke Wellington *c1850s* Wellesley 2v Peninsular War Waterloo Battles1864 Harpers Weekly Bound Volume Civil War Illustrated Journal Rare Antique Book1866 Abraham Lincoln Union Army Slavery President Civil War Assassination 1st Ed1859 New England Indian Wars Antique King Phillip Revolutionary War Witchcraft1665 Lucan Pharsalia Julius Caesar Civil War Pompey Rome De Bello Civili BlaeuCgc 9.8= Civil War #1 (see All My Items!) Turner Aspen Variant! New Movie Soon!!1885 Ulysses S Grant Memoirs Civil War Slavery Confederacy Robert E Lee 1st EdPre Revolutionary War Military History Cape Breton/maine/colonial Americana 1746British Battleships Of World War Ii, Detailed History, Superb BookAbraham Lincoln President Abe Negro Slavery Civil War Antique Gettysburg AddressEaston Press Civil War. How The North Won Hattaway And Jones. 2 Vols LeatherFirst Over Germany - 306th Bombardment Group In World War Ii - Usaaf Ww2 B-171695 Cornelius Tacitus Annals & Histories Roman Empire Rome War EmperorsRussia Gen.kornilov 1-i Kubanskii Pohod, Rostov-don 1919 Russian Civil WarRare 1898 Civil War Army Nurse Slaves South Plantation Negro Union Feminist American Revolutionary War Indians George Washington Declaration Of Independence1865 Civil War Battle & Prison Horrors Slavery Confederate Rebel South TortureAntique 1863 Godey's Lady's Book Fashion Civil War Era.Easton Press Winston Churchill The Second World War 6 Vol. SealedDiseases Of The Army Military Medical Book/antique Medicine Rare Signed 1768Easton Press Civil War Lee's. Lieutenants. Douglas Southall Freeman. 3 Vols.Personal Memoirs Of General U.s. Grant 2 Volumes First Edition 1885 Civil War 1866 Women Civil War Battles Union Nurses Hospital Us History Revolutionary 1778 History Of Bavaria Reign Of Maximilian Joseph Germany War Bayern Adelung1877 Civil War Battles Gettysburg Chancellorsville Antietam Fort Sumter Gift Usa1866 1st Ed Illustrated Civil War Portraits Abe Lincoln Gettysburg Military Navy1889 Life Of George Washington Revolutionary War American Revolution PresidentConfederate Civil War - 16 Vols Military History - Facsimile Of The 1899 EditionGrand Army Of The Republic Texas Gar History Us Soldier Revolutionary Civil War1691 Life Of Oliver Cromwell Commonwealth England Elzevir Civil War Puritan1880 Antique Old West Indian War Pioneer Heroes Custer Sitting Bull Buffalo BillHow To Restore Your Military Harley-davidson 1932-1952Lot (5) Rare Osprey Publishing Campaign Series Military War Books #124 - 129 MntAbraham Lincoln The War Years Carl Sandburg Signed 1st Edition Civil War Books1862 Union Diary Confederate Memoir Rebel Civil War Hanging Execution Torture 1915 German Wwi War Art Book Water Colors Pickelhauben Ulahns Kaiser Machine GunHistory Of The 504th Bomb Group (vh) In World War Ii Signed Fiske HanleyTime-life Series World War Ii Ww2 Complete Set Of 39 Hb Volumes 1983Lot Of (10) Rare Osprey Publishing Men At Arms Military History Books #394 - 403British Battleships Of World War I, Detailed History, Superb BookThe Long-range War : Sniping In Vietnam, Usmc Scout Sniper, By Peter R. SenichWwii Korean War Usn P4y-2 Privateer Pilot's Handbook Manual Air Force B-24 Vg Rare 1889 Civil War Illustrated Battles Anecdotes Prisoners Lincoln Zouaves GiftAthenian Letters, 2 Vols, Peloponnesian War, King Of Persia, 1798, Cadell, Map1890 General Custer Civil War 7th U S Cavalry Plains Indian War 1st Ed Near FineFor Fuhrer & Fatherland Military Awards Third Reich AngoliaBattles And Leaders Civil War Folio Large 4v 1887 200 Maps! Orig Full Am Leather1921 Official History Australia In War 1914-18 Vol 1 Story Of Anzac Gallipoli 1863 Pocket Holy Bible Victorian Leather American Antique Fine Binding Civil WarSport And War, Hunting In South Africa, Duke Of Edinburgh, Bisset, 1875, Murray36 Issues Military Images Magazine, 1982-1996 (1980s & 1990s) Huge Vintage LotFinnish Military Rifle Moisin Nagants Gun Book Rifle Ww 2 Shooting Signed Rare5 Coin Books Civil War Tokens Wooden Nickels Large Cents Penny Whimsy PatternLot Of 12 Schiffer Military History Mostly German Armor Books Horst ScheibertRare 1867 Civil War Secret Service General Lafayette C. Baker Illustrated FirstLot (4) Osprey Elite Series Collectible War History Books Mint Unread #123 - 180Late War, United States & Great Britain 1812-15, Hunt, Smith, 1819, Algerine WarThe Military Life Of Frederick The Great//easton Press Leather BoundLot Of 25 Civil War Books