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    

Rare, Last Men Of The Revolution Book, Revolutionary War, Real Cdv PhotographsCa.1863: A Outstanding Lot Of Civil War Era Memorabilia! Please Have A Look !!!!7vol Histoire Polybe *1753* Folard Military Tactics 135 Engravs Battle War Troop1st Military Adventures *1815* Rowlandson Roberts Hand Colour Plates PeninsulaRare~civil War Soldier~19th Battery~1862~leather Miniature Bible~metal Clasp~nr1849 History Indians Pocahontas Rare War Wild West Old Antique Tribes VintageHistory Of America Revolution Revolutionary Civil Indian War Slavery Us Old WestPresident Richard Nixon Limited Signed Real War, Fine Condition, In SlipcaseOld Sharps Rifle Catalogs + Marlin Ballard Maynard Civil War Buffalo Hunting *)*1757 French & Indian War Miliary Manual In French Fold Out Troop Movements Vafo1836 Life George Washington Revolutionary War Estate Set Indians President BooksAntique Civil War Union Confederate Army Military Slavery U.s. History Lincoln Rare! 1882 1sted Abraham Lincoln Memorial Album Immortelles Civil War Slavery1919 Saint Joan Of Arc Mark Twain 1st Edition Howard Pyle Color Illus War France1896 Edition Little Women Victorian Rare Civil War Csa Slavery Louisa May AlcottRare! 1sted 1885 Military And Civil Life Of General Us Grant Civil War LincolnRussian Campaigns *1854* Battles Sieges War Turkey Fold-maps Baron Von Moltke1880 Ku Klux Klan Invisible Empire Civil War Kkk Southern Confederacy SlaveryNice Lot Of 28 Ballantine's Illustd History Of World War Ii-great ConditionZombies Vs Robots: This Means War1830 History Of The United States Early Leather Revolutionary War Of 1812 RareEaston Press - Sun Tzu - The Art Of WarThe War Of The Worlds By H.g. Wells-easton Press LeatherboundUnique Tsarist Russia Period Album On World War I Wounded Receiving Aid 19141897 Uncle Tom's Cabin Negro Slavery 1st Edition Civil War Antique Vtg Book RareCivil War History Antique Great Rebellion Abraham Lincoln Jefferson Davis Us Csa1869 Antique Civil War Harper's Pictorial History C.s.a. Maps Lincoln Battles Vg1869 Antique Civil War Diary Anderson Cavalry Union Army Troop Camp Life MutinyAntique Book National Militia Standard Cavalry Sword Military Artillery Infantry1865 Confederate Rebel Prisons Civil War Battles Indians Southern Women Antique Antique Revolutionary War Declaration Of Independence Washington U.s. HistoryLloyd’s Register Of Shipping 1944 - 1945 Top Secret War Volume Vessels NauticalCommando War Comic Number 98!!,1963/64 Issue,good For Age,50 Years Old,rare1868 Antique Civil War Picture Of Desolated States & Restoration General Grant1866 1st Ed Life & Campaigns Of Stonewall Jackson Civil War Slavery Csa1930 German Wwi Navy U-boat War Book Great Naval Art By Claus Bergen No Reserve!Rare 1866 Leather Bound Antique Book Civil War Robert E Lee 1st Edition EngravinStory Of Co. F. 23d Massachusetts Volunteers In The War For The Union 1861-1865Rare~1863~civil War~holy Bible~american Bible Society~1st Ed~leather~king James1885 Uncle Tom's Cabin Harriet Beecher Stowe Slavery South Civil War America $$Japanese Cruisers Of The Pacific War - Lacroix & Wells - Naval Institute PressMessages And Documents 1850s-1860s Navy Arctic Civil War Jefferson Davis LincolnAmerican Revolution Revolutionary War Of 1812 Military Army Navy Us History1963. Vintage Commando War Picture Comic #68. "spearhead!"Alcoholics Anonymous 1945 First Edition 8th War Time PrintingHistory Russia *1854* Tartars Mongol Plates Maps 2vol Rabbe & Duncan War RourickThe Forever War By Joe Haldeman-easton Press LeatherboundThe Civil War, By Shelby Foote- Random House Hardcover 3 Volume Set Sealed Life At The South: Uncle Tom's Cabin Wlg Smith 1852 1st Slavery Civil War PlatesAntique Civil War Account General Thomas Francis Meagher Irish Brigade 1892 1stEaston Press Jay Monaghan The Life Of General George Armstrong Custer Leather Commando War Comic Number 62!!,1962/63 Issue,good For Age,50 Years Old,rare.Rare Mein Kampf Military Nazi Germany Ww2 Adolf Hitler German Army The 3rd ReichThe First & Second World War - 2 Vol. Easton Press Set John Keegan LeatherboundCommando War Comic Number 71!!,1963/64 Issue,v Good For Age,50 Years Old,rare.Mens Magazine Lot Stag True War Bluebook Battle Station Sexy Call Girls WomenRare- 1886 -memoirs Of Ulysses S Grant- Civil War Leather Book SetEaston Press Abraham Lincoln Carl Sandburg Prairie & War Years,6 Leather Volumes1829 Ancient Greece Athens Rome Roman Persia Trojan Peloponnesian War Alexander Easton Press Charles Sumner And The Coming Of The Civil War Leather Bound Book