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    

Scarce Military Equitation *1778* Breaking Horses For Army Soldiers PembrokeMini 2" C1850 Antique Rare Miniature Story Book Thumb Civil War Era Children'sWinston Churchill's Second World War/1948/rare 1st Ed/145 Maps/fine Morocco LthrFrench Aircraft Of The First World War - Dr. James J. Davilla & Arthur M. SoltanEaston Press Leather Bound 100 Greatest Books War & Peace Unread1888 Hardtack And Coffee American Civil War Color Plates Book Gloucester Us Army1644 Alexander The Great Quintus Curtius Rufus Military War Conquest Map GreeceMarvel Comics Civil War Ii #0 Greg Land 1:1000 Agents Of Shield Variant Rare!Civil War Medical Surgical Disease Microbiology Anatomy Surgeon Instrument Army1852 Uncle Tom's Cabin Antique Book Negro Slavery Civil War African Slave Trade1729 Polybius War Histories Military Formation Illustrated Famed BattlesRare Antique 1800's Civil War Era Holy Bible Schruck & Grubb FamiliesCrusades History Holy War 1857 Women Knights Templar Islam God Freemasonry RareGerman Half-tracks Of World War Two - Concord Pubs - Superb Reference - Scarce!1938 Buck Rogers In The War With The Planet Venus Big Little BookEaston Press John Keegan The First World WarEaston Press John Keegan's The Second World WarTsr-2: Britain’s Lost Cold War Strike Aircraft - Mclelland - Classic - Superb!!Antiquarian Boots And Saddles By Elizabeth B. Custer 1885 Presumed First Edition1885 Boots And Saddles By Elizabeth CusterThe First World War John Keegan Wwi Military History Leather The Easton Press 1789 - 1792 Steel Royal Navy List 9 Issues East India Company Ships MilitaryRare Civil War Era 1860 Dated Bible / Locking With Gilded Pages -3 3/4" X 5 3/4"Buffalo Bill Indian Wars Wild West Show Custer Pony Express Antique Rare Photos1928 Battle Of Kings Mountain & Cowpens South Carolina W/ Maps Revolutionar War1866 Confederate Union War Slavery Abraham Lincoln Stonewall Jackson IllustratedWar Craft The Last Guardian By Jeff GrubbThe Gallic Wars Julius Caesar The Easton Press Military History Leather Edition1839 Garrettson Methodist Abolitionist~slavery~negroes~revolutionary War~canada+General Hal Moore Signed We Were Soldiers Once Vietnam War Flat Press Easton Rare 1856 General Lafayette Revolutionary War Illustrated By John Quincy AdamsThe Guns Of August Barbara W. Tuchman Military History Leather The Easton PressPeloponnesian War Thucydidis De Bello Peloponnesiaco 1731 History LatinHistory Of The First Maine Cavalry 1861-1865 First Edition 1887 Civil WarCommando War Comic Number 99,1964 Issue,v Good For Age,52 Years Old,very Rare.World Of Warcraft: Chronicles Of War (by Rosenberg, Golden And Grubb) PaperbackWarcraft War Of The Ancients Trilogy Well Of Eternity Paperback Book OneHistory North America U.s.revolutionary War Leather+hand Colored Early+rare 1860History Of The Civil War In America Comte De Paris Vol I-iii Porter/coates 18751782 -american Revolution/end Of Revolutionary War- Annual Register Leather BookEaston Press A History Of The Civil War By Lossing & Brady Leather Rare 680/1865The Clan Macrae With Its Rolls Of Honour And Of Service In The Great War1852 Romance Of The Revolution War Of Independence American History Plates Book6 Observer Books - Aeroplanes/aircraft Inc 1st Edition + Basic MilitaryWorks Of Alexander Hamilton Revolutionary War & Federalist Statesman 1851 1st EdMcclure's Magazine Jan-june 1897..civil War, Railroad, Conan Doyle, AviationRare Civil War Era 1877 Medical Surgical Illustrated Book Materia MedicaSquadron In Action Book #173 German Bombers Of World War 1Usaf F-4 & F-105 Mig Killers Of The Vietnam War 1965-1973 - Schiffer - Superb!The Short Victorious War Limited Edition David Weber NewHardees Rifle And Light Infantry Tactics 1861 Us Civil War Vol 1 & IiWarcraft War Of The Ancients Archive By Richard A. Knaak (2007 Paperback)Civil War Times Illustrated Bound 20 Volume Set 1962-82.Lot Of 26 Civil War BooksGeneral Hal Moore Signed We Were Soldiers Once Vietnam War Flat Press Easton The Soul Of Lee 1st. Ed. Double Signed Civil War 1918.1755 Magazine -french Indian War Battle Of Louisburg British In The St. LawrenceEsquire August 1942 Victory Issue Varga Girl Military The Magazine For Men DaliUsborne Flap Book: See Inside The First World War By Rob Lloyd Jones (2012, Boar1848 United States Revolutionary War America Indians Texas Mexican Illustrated