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]

myArmoury.com

myArmoury.com

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]

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]

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    

Rare Eikon Basilike *1649* Charles I. English Civil War Woodcuts Gauden Latin1633 Folio Saturni Ephemerides History World Rulers Military Henry Isaacson RareWar Memorial Australian Record In Great War Colour Patch Chart Ww1 C1920s1814 Iliad Odyssey Homer 5vl Set Full Leather Maps Troy Trojan War Mythology GodAmerican Indian War Horrors 1890s Scalping Sioux Old West Custer Antique BookLucan's Pharsalia *1718* Nicholas Rowe Roman Civil War Engravs Map 1st Epic PoemCivil War Memoirs General P.h. Sheridan 1888 Indian Wars Military Army Cavalry1891 Pictorial History Of United States Of America Washington Lincoln Indian War1829 Rob Roy Sir Walter Scott 2vls Full Leather Highlands Scotland War History $1818 History Of His Own Time Bishop Burnett 4vl Set Full Leather England War $$Easton Press Civil War Classics Twelve Volume SetAmerica On Horse-back 1896 Civil War Custer Indian Equestrian Old West Us Travel1647 Histoire Holy Warre Fuller Crusades - Engravings 3rd Edn Holy War Scarce Pfalz D.iiia At War! - Albatros Productions - Windsock Datafile 173 - NewCivil War Confederate States Battlefields 1866 Ruined South Reconstruction SlaveCanton China 1920's Photo Guide Color Ads Rare Antique Military+factories+cars1853 The Romance Of The Revolution History Of The War Of Independence WashingtonRare 1888 Reminiscences Of Abraham Lincoln Civil War Slavery Grant IllustratedKilling The Rising Sun: How America Vanquished World War... By Bill O'reillyKilling The Rising Sun : How America Vanquished World War Ii Japan By Bill...1856 Revolutionary War Nathanael Greene George Washington Southern IllustratedWar And Peace Leo Tolstoy Collector's Edition Genuine Leather Easton Press1896 Under Both Flags A Panorama Of The Great Civil War Abraham Lincoln Grant SlThe War Of The Worlds, H.g. Wells, 1926, Hard Cover With Dust Jacket1917-1925 Lot Of 14 Confederate Veteran Magazines Illustrated Civil War Reflects1899 Campaigning In The Philippines Spanish-american War Illustrated Faust 1st 1859 Ethan Allen Green Mountain Boys Vermont Revolutionary War Illustrated & MapCommando War Comic Number 06!,1961 Issue,good For Age,55 Years Old,very Rare,06!Antique 1865 Book Civil War - Life Death In Rebel Prisons Diary Maj. R. Kellogg!Killing The Rising Sun How America Vanquished World War Ii Japan Bill O'reilly Killing The Rising Sun : How America Vanquished World War Ii Japan By Bill...Set Of Two (2) Orig. 1783 Revolutionary War "promissory Notes" Connecticut 1783General Hal Moore Signed We Were Soldiers Once Vietnam War Flat Press Easton 1860 Bound Illustrated London News..war, Military, Revolution, DomesticOrig. 1926 German Ww1 Photo Book Brutal Reality Of War 600 Photos Leather & GiltOriginal World War 2 Era 1944 Sears Roebuck Catalog Large Spring And SummerLot Of Four 4 Landmark Books World War Ii Frogmen Bismarck Midway.. HbsCivil War Times Complete Photographic History William C. Davis Bell L. WileyBattles And Leaders Of The Civil War Complete 4 Volume Set 1887-1888 Us HistoryWarcraft War Of The Ancients Archive - Richard A. Knaak (2007, Paperback) *used*5-volumes~history Of U.s. Marine Corps Operations In World War Ii 1897 1st Edition Angels Of The Battlefield Civil War Nurses Catholic Nuns BartonAero Publication Japanese Naval Air Force Camouflage And Markings World War IiKilling The Rising Sun : How America Vanquished World War Ii Japan By Bill...1916 The Fifteenth Ohio Volunteers And Its Campaigns 1861-1865 Civil War BookThe Cross Of Military Shield United Daughters Of The Confederacy.vol 1.19271861 Polyglott Bible Leather - Emily Robinson Wooster Ohio -pope - Civil War EraCivil War Adjutant General's Report 1862 Ny Proclamation Of War Abraham LincolnThe Civil War By Shelby Foote 3-vol. Slipcase Hardcover Set Modern Library (390)Easton Press/vg+/history Of The Peloponnesian War/thucydidesMissouri Troops In Service During The Civil War (1902 First Printing )War Picture Library No 496!,dated 1969!,good For Age,great 47!year Old Issue.A Fool's Errand Civil War Kkk 1879History Of The Second World War Marshall Cavendish In Binders 6 Volumes1868 Confederate * Csa * States Rights * Civil War * Constitution IllustratedC 1873 General Upton United States Army Infantry Tactics Civil War Lessons IllusAfter Pretoria: The Guerrilla War By H. W. Wilson In 2 Vols - 1902The Teepee Book. The Fiftieth Anniversary Of The Custer Battle, 1876-1926Killing The Rising Sun : How America Vanquished World War Ii Japan By Bill...History Of Outer Banks North Carolina 1584-1958, Pirates, Shipwrecks, Civil War