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]

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]

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    

Rhodesia War "selous Scouts" Military History Book "peter Stiff"..Japanese Cruisers Of The Pacific War - Lacroix & Wells - Incredible - Rare!!Aircraft Of The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939 - Howson - Putnam - Superb & Rare!Rare! 1891 Indian War Horror Sitting Bull Photo General Custer Old West Frontier1775 Parliament ~ Revolutionary War ~ Boston Tea ~ Philadelphia ~ Edmund Burke 1776 Parliament ~ Revolutionary War ~ Troops In Boston ~ Ships, Quebec, New York1809 Revolutionary War Biography American Colonists U S Pioneers History Antique1886 Reminiscences Of Abraham Lincoln Civil War President - Assassination MartyrAntique Godey's Lady Book Year 1862 Dress Pattern Civil WarRare 1828 Book With 2 Pages Hand Writen- Revolutionary War Vet On Gen. Arnold1832 General George Washington Revolutionary War Life Us President Illustrated 1839 George Washington French And Indian Revolutionary War Life Of Mount VernonAnthropology Mythology Indian War Africa Slavery Ancient Legends Religion MasonRare 1899 Plantation Sketches By J. Campbell Phillips, Negro Life Post Civil WarOld West Cowboy Indian Plains Sitting Bull Wild Custer Sioux Us Army Native War1786 Drinkwater, History Of Siege Of Gibraltar, Battle, War, Spain, England,calf1st Edition "tenting On The Plains" E. Custer 1889 In Good Condition1864 Civil War Abraham Lincoln Stonewall Jackson Antique Slavery Gettysburg Abe 1858 Aaron Burr Life Of Revolutionary War Hamilton Duel Thomas Jefferson TreasonRare 1885 Fine Leather 2 Volumes Ulysses S. Grant Memoirs Civil War Maps PrintsRare 1882 Fine Binding Civil War Illustrated With Maps And Prints First EditionDakota Plains Indian Antique Sioux War General Custer Sitting Bull Old Wild WestPersonal Memoirs Of U.s.grant 1885 General Ulysses Grant American Civil War & MoPurnell's History Of The Second World War Magazine Lot! 65 IssuesTime Life Civil War History 28 Book SetVtg Harper's Bazaar Magazine Lot July-dec Post War FashionsAllied Escort Ships Of World War Ii: A Complete Survey - Peter Elliott - Rare!Destroyer Weapons Of World War 2 - Hodges & Friedman - Great Book - Scarce!South Africa And The Transvaal War Louis Creswicke 1900-1901 5 Vols Boer War1919 War Romance Of The Salvation Army Evangelist William Booth - Pentecostal1905 1st Ed. The Russian Navy In The Russo-japanese War By Captain Klado Illust.Life Of General Custer Indian Wars Easton Press LeatherLot/6 Vintage Harpers Bazaar Magazine Cover Art War Issues 43 44 Bacall Red +The War Of The Ring History Of Lord Of The Rings Tolkien Easton Press NewPictorial National Records With History Of Great Rebellion 1863 Civil War TravelNew York At Gettysburg 3 Book Complete Set. Union Or Confederate Civil War.Rare 1844 The Life Of Francis Marion (revolutionary War & South Carolina)Group Of Seven (7) Military Illustrated Modeller MagazinesBattle At Bull Run Davis Civil War Easton Press LeatherWinston Churchill The Second World War 6-vol. Chartwell Edition Set Wwii HcThe Holy Bible, 1854 - Used During Civil WarConfederate Veteran Magazine Lot 10 Issues 1921 Original Vintage Civil WarU.s. Submarine Veterans World War Ii Vol. 1 - 4 With Index1887 North Brookfield Massachusetts Indians Revolutionary Civil War Colonial Les Travaux De Mars Du L'art De La Guerre 1684 Military History Strategy IllustApr 15,1918 Vogue Magazine~complete & Good Shape~fashions For War Incomes Wwi~America's Cigarette War By Kluger Easton Press SignedThe Civil War: A Narrative By Shelby Foote Lot Of 14 VolumesOld 1864 Civil War Fort Pillow Massacre Black Union Soldiers Confederate BattleOsprey Campaign Books Lot Of 5 World War TwoWar Of American Independence Higginbotham Easton Press LeatherHow To Prepare For Military Fitness By D'eliscu 1st Ed. Signed 1943Rumor Of War Philip Caputo Vietnam Easton Press LeatherThe Iraq War By Paul Bremer Easton Press Leather Signed1891 Sitting Bull And The Indian War W. Fletcher Johnson - Custer - South DakotaFranco-prussian War Michael Howard Easton Press LeatherPictorial History American Wars-revolutionary,war Of 1812, Mexican War-huge-1859Serving The Republic, By Miles, Civil War & Indian Fighter, 1st Ed. 1911Das Plakat March 1915 German Magazine 21 Color Military + Other Plates ScarceLot 20 Civil War History Grant Stonewall Jackson Robert E. Lee Confederacy More