Reading Lists for Military Leaders


Every year senior leaders in the United States Navy release a recommended reading list. This, like many other military reading lists, is a mix of classic literature and new entries. For example, the 2017 list (https://militaryreadinglists.com/reading_list/3-navy) includes both Mahan’s book The Influence of Sea Power Upon History and P.W. Singer and August Cole’s contemporary near-future science-fiction book Ghost Fleet.

After a decade of aggregating military reading lists, what I find most interesting are the overlaps. The 2017 US Navy list included the book Makers of Modern Strategy, edited by Peter Paret et al, which was also on the 2001 Canadian Army reading list, was featured several times on the US Army list, and has shown up on a host of other lists (as per https://militaryreadinglists.com/books/145-makers-of-modern-strategy-from-machiavelli-to-the-nuclear-age). Similarly, Corbett’s Principles of Maritime Strategy has appeared on a variety of lists including those from the US Navy, the US Military Academy, and the US Joint Chiefs of Staff (https://militaryreadinglists.com/books/669-principles-of-maritime-strategy). And fictional entries move on and off of the lists as well. Thus, Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game shows up a number of times, as does Robert A. Heinlein’s Starship Troopers. Malcolm Gladwell (https://militaryreadinglists.com/authors/malcolm-gladwell) has had a number of books on various lists, and John Keegan is a perennial favourite.

More generally, these lists are a continuously renewed source of quality reading material. If you are aware of a list that I've missed, please let me know at tom@thomasleecopeland.com. Thanks!

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