Great military non-fiction books.

AdmiralAwesome

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Thought I'd make a thread where we could post some of the non-fiction we've read recently - I'm actually fishing for some ideas on books to get hold of! But could be interesting. I'll start with a couple that I find powerful.

'Shake Hands With The Devil; The Failure Of Humanity in Rwanda' by Gen. Romeo Dallaire. A really good account of the genocide, why it happened, and why no one stepped up to stop it, by the commander of forces on the ground. It has some pretty moving and heroic stories of the UN Peacekeepers, such as Sengalese army Captain Diagne Mbaye, who was working as an unarmed observer, driving around the country in a landrover. The guy, contrary to UN standing orders, picked up car loads of Tutsis and drove them through roadblocks manned by genocidal Hutu millitias, relying on his sheer force of personality to talk his way through. All told, this one man, alone and unarmed, ferried around 300 people to safety. Sadly, he was killed by mortar fire.

'But Not for the Fuehrer' by Helmut Jung, a personal account of a non-Nazi soldier on the Eastern Front. Reading it, you can really understand why everyone went along with Hitler, and why even decent guys like this took part in and witnessed atrocities on the Eastern front.

'Heart of a Soldier' by James B. Stewart. The story of Cornishman Rick Rescorla. Rescorla joined the Paras in the late 1950's, before going to Cyprus with military intelligence. From there, he became a colonial police officer in Rhodesia. While serving there, he met ex US Army Ranger Dan Hill, and became the best of friends. Dan Hill convinced him to move to America and join the US Army with him to fight in Vietnam. He quickly distinguished himself as a platoon leader in the Ia Drang Valley (ala 'We Were Soldiers'), and went on to operate behind enemy lines as the leader of a recon platoon. After Vietnam, he took a job as head of security of a company in the World Trade Center. He predicted both attacks, but was ignored both times. After the first plane hit the other Tower, ignoring official orders for everyone to stay put, Rescorla evactuated almost 3,000 people from the building. He was killed when the second plane hit, as he'd gone back in to get more people out. His wife at the time, when hearing on the news the Tower had gone down with people still in it, knew for a fact that Rick was among the dead - he was the type of person who'd never leave untill he'd got everyone else out first.

Truly inspired by this guy. Whenever I find something hard, and start to lose motivation, I always think, "What would Rick Rescorla do?" If you get any of the books I've listed, get this one. The story of a perfect soldier and true hero.

Sorry for the length of all them, but they're pretty much the favourite non-fiction I've ever read.
 

rusty92

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Good Write Up There mate.. Sounds awesome, Maybe have to get a few bought!.. I tend to read magazines more than books but if the book interests me i can read, So yeah might get one bought!.. Cheers for the good write up!.

Sam
 

USMC 1802

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I do quite a bit of reading in my spare time, restricted to military/history subjects. Perhaps you might come across one of these few books in the future:

1) The Forgotten Soldier, by Guy Sajer: Franco-German soldier serving on the Eastern Front with the Gross Deutschland Division. The most horrific and surreal account I have ever read. Since reading this book, I compare all others to this one.

2) With the Old Breed, by E. B. Sledge: US Marine serving with the 1st Mar Div at Peleliu and Okinawa. If Sajer's book were proven to be apocryphal, then Sledge's would easily take its place. Not as surrealistic as Sajer's, but certainly more "nuts and bolts" in a way that most other memoirs seem to leave out.

3)The Hidden War, by Artyom Borovik: a Soviet journalist covering the Soviet-Afghan War throughout the 1980's. I had to read this book a second time to really appreciate the introspective focus. It is not, to my initial dismay, a combat memoir (don't expect more than a short couple descriptions of combat), so much as a "chasing ghosts/what is this all going to be worth" sort of portrait.

4)The Last Valley, by Martin Windrow: a military history of Dien Bien Phu and the French-Indochina War. If only more history books in general were written with such dedication to one's topic as this book; clearly written in a style that never bores, and never swaying from it's subject, Windrow's book is a veritable masterpiece of military history/authorship.

My keenest interest is in the Red Army and the Eastern Front of WWII. I find it very hard to make such a selective list; I mention these few because I think they would appeal to those with a general interest.
 

AdmiralAwesome

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4)The Last Valley, by Martin Windrow: a military history of Dien Bien Phu and the French-Indochina War. If only more history books in general were written with such dedication to one's topic as this book; clearly written in a style that never bores, and never swaying from it's subject, Windrow's book is a veritable masterpiece of military history/authorship.
Have you ever read 'Street Without Joy' by Bernard B. Fall? It's his history of the French in Indochina. Provides a detailed overview of the entire conflict, and and lots of little personal stories. Best account of the war I've read.
 
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