Veterans Day — 10 impactful military books worth reading

This week, take time to remember and honor those who have served — through their stories. We’ve rounded up 10 nonfiction military titles that have made an impact on our culture.

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An official military color guard participates in Chicago’s 2016 Memorial Day Parade. Myriad books have been written as a testament to the military men and women and their experiences. 

An official military color guard participates in Chicago’s 2016 Memorial Day Parade. Myriad books have been written as a testament to military men and women and their experiences.

Sun-Times Media

Veterans Day honors those who have served in the U.S. military. Myriad books have been written as a testament to the military men and women and their experiences. 

This week, take time to remember and honor those who have served through their stories. We’ve rounded up 10 nonfiction military titles that have made an impact on our culture, some of which have appeared on our USA TODAY Best-Selling Books. 

Some titles are newer and some have become classics, but all are perfect for readers seeking to learn more about the servicemen and women of our armed forces, past and present.

1. “Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption,”by Laura Hillenbrand. The book tells the story of airman Louis Zamperini, who was shot down over the Pacific during World War II and survived on a raft until he was taken prisoner by the Japanese. “Unbroken” entered the list in 2010 but did not hit No. 1 until 2014, when the film version of the book was released.


2. “American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History,” by Chris Kyle with Scott McEwen and Jim DeFelice. The memoir from U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle entered the list in January 2012. Kyle was killed a year later by a Marine suffering post-traumatic stress disorder. Filmmaker Clint Eastwood brought Kyle’s story to the big screen in 2014.

3. “Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10,”by Marcus Luttrell with Patrick Robinson. Luttrell, who was the sole survivor of Operation Red Wings, writes of his experiences and those of his teammates, fighting insurgents in Afghanistan in 2005. The memoir first entered the list in June 2007 and would reach as high as No. 2 in January 2014, thanks to the release of a feature film inspired by the book.

4. “The Longest Day,”by Cornelius Ryan. The book chronicles the story of the Allied invasion of Normandy during World War II. It became a Hollywood film starring John Wayne in 1962, not long after it was published in 1959, and long before there was a USA TODAY Best-Selling Books list. But in 1994, during the 50th anniversary of D-Day, the book made a comeback and landed on the list for two weeks in early June. 

5. “No Easy Day: The Autobiography of a Navy SEAL: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden,”by Mark Owen with Kevin Maurer. In the book, Owen takes the readers with him and his fellow SEAL team members as they prepare, train and execute the assault that killed the al-Qaida leader. He also takes readers on his own personal journey to the SEALs and describes several missions and the evolution of SEAL Team Six. The book debuted at No.1 on the USA TODAY Best-Selling Books list in September 2012.

6. “The Guns of August: The Outbreak of World War I,” by Barbara W. Tuchman. This Pulitzer Prize-winning classic details the earliest political decisions to go to war as well as the early military battles that would determine the course of the First World War. Like “The Longest Day,” Tuchman’s book was published long before the USA TODAY Best-Selling Books list existed, in 1962. But also as with ”The Longest Day,” it was an anniversary (in this case, the centennial anniversary of the war’s end) that landed the book on the list in August 2018. 

7. “Flags of Our Fathers,”by James Bradley with Ron Powers. The book, which premiered on the USA TODAY Best-Selling Books list in May 2000, tells the true story behind the famous photograph and inspiration behind the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, Va. It also tells the stories behind the men who raised the American flag at Iwo Jima. The book would be the inspiration behind the 2006 film of the same name from director Clint Eastwood.

8. “Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War,”by Mark Bowden. The book tells the story of the Battle of Mogadishu in Somalia in 1993, which was one of the most intense firefights American soldiers had fought since the Vietnam War. The book entered the list in 1999 and would spend 101 weeks on it. After being turned into a feature film in 2002 by Ridley Scott, the book would rise as high as No. 2.

9. “Band of Brothers,” by Stephen Ambrose. The book began as a part of an initiative to collect oral histories of D-Day for the National WWII Museum in New Orleans. It became, thanks to Ambrose, a detailed account of a parachute infantry company and its members in the European Theater during World War II. The 1992 book was made into an HBO miniseries which, in 2001, vaulted the book onto the Best-Sellers list for 26 weeks. 

10. “Flyboys: A True Story of Courage,”by James Bradley. In 1944, nine American airmen were shot down in the Pacific during World War II. One of the airmen, George H.W. Bush, was rescued. The fate of the other eight airmen is the subject of “Flyboys.” The book debuted on the best-seller list in October 2003 and would stay on the list 35 weeks.


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