Our recommended Book Reading List will continue to expand. We felt it was easiest to organize the books by eras rather than by titles. The Skills Improvement and Entertainment section is grouped by common Areas of Interest such as into, Hunting, Camping, Shooting and so on. We’ve only selected books that our contributors have actually read. If you have any book recommendations for us, please email us at: Mike@spotterup.com or put your recommendation in the comments section. Thanks!

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HISTORY AUTOBIOGRAPHY/BIOGRAPHY

by Thucydides.

The writer Thucydides, an Athenian, wrote about the three decades long war that left Athens in shambles and Sparta the stronger for it. The Greek world was turned around by the Peloponnesian War. Athens, once the strongest city-state prior to her war with Sparta, was weakened and Sparta emerged victorious.  After the victory of the united Greek forces against the Persian Empire, the two dominant city-states of Greece, Athens and Sparta, fought each other and this led to the Peloponnesian War that destroyed whole cities and marked the dramatic end to the fifth century BCE and the golden age of Greece.

In his book, Thucydides attempted to present an objective point of view. He wrote: “Of the events of war I have not ventured to speak from any chance information, nor according to any notion of my own; I have described nothing but what I either saw myself or learned from others, of whom I made the most careful and particular inquiry.”

Thucydides was an Athenian general who desired accuracy in recounting the story and would not pepper the material with myth and romance as some historians are sometimes wont to do. In fact we get the word hyperbole from ancient Greek. How interesting that we also get the word ‘laconic’ from that region as well.

It is to our gain that Thucydides was a good observer and kept to the facts. We’re able to understand how after the Greco-Persian wars Athens grew in power. As that war ended, and Athens became an empire, it became a threat to the Peloponnesian states, including Sparta. Sparta would turn on its former ally and through their long wars the Greek world would be changed forever. Athens would lose, and though Sparta was the victor, her power and influence would eventually wane. The Greeks certainly understood story-telling and myth-making. Stories are told differently throughout various cultures. In this book, we get, “just the facts maam”. Anyone who can devote the time to read a good book will find this book to be a magnetic read.

by Homer. Perhaps all young boys and men have been inspired to become warriors after reading just portions from this book, the Iliad. My first exposure to it was in the 8th grade and after reading it, for months all I drew were pictures of men with shields and swords, in my notebook. The Iliad story has been in schools for a very long time and has inspired men to greatness such as Churchill, and T.E. Lawrence. Lawrence in fact, so enamored with Homer, translated the Odyssey and his version is found online. The Iliad is set during the Trojan War. Much is written about the siege of Troy and the characters are covered substantially enough that we get a good sense of who they are. The epic mentions the build-up of warriors gathering for the war, how the decade long war was caused, and then the sacking of Troy. Perhaps you’re familiar with the Wolfgang Peterson movie called Troy. If you were entertained by the movie, then the book will most certainly give you a deeper view into the world of Agamemnon, Achilles, and the lead up to the war. Achilles will have his day here, but so too will others; but at the end of the Iliad it doesn’t end well for anyone. They will all die. Thousands of years hence, all of them will live on in legend.

by Plutarch

“Come back with your shield – or on it” was supposed to be the parting cry of mothers to their sons. Mothers whose sons died in battle openly rejoiced, mothers whose sons survived hung their heads in shame”-Plutarch. Such asn interesting quote from Plutarch.

20 years after reading this book I can still recall many selections from its pages. This book is an absorbing read. Plutarch, the essayist, biographer and historian, wrote about the Spartans in such a way that any reader will be deeply occupied in trying to picture the various aspects of the culture he described.

“In the case of another boy, when the time had arrived during which it was the custom for the free boys to steal whatever they could, and it was a disgrace not to escape being found out, when the boys with him had stolen a young fox alive, and given it to him to keep, and those who had lost the fox came in search for it, the boy happened to have slipped the fox under his garment. The beast, however, became savage and ate through his side to the vitals; but the boy did not move or cry out, so as to avoid being exposed, and left, when they had departed, the boys saw what had happened, and blamed him, saying that it would have been better to let the fox be seen than to hide it even unto death; but the boy said, “Not so, but better to die without yielding to the pain than through being detected because of weakness of spirit to gain a life to be lived in disgrace.”

We cannot be sure what is all true because Plutarch lived centuries after the Spartans expired. But we know well enough today, there are men as tough and laconic as the Spartans. True, many of their customs disappeared with them but enough survives today that we marvel at their self-discipline.

Plutarch crafted something very appealing. Through his writings we learn much about the Spartan social system and constitution. We learn about their inhabitants and the strict discipline they subjected their citizens to, and thousands of years later we still admire their stern culture. A very entertaining and informative book to read.

by TE Lawrence

The Odyssey has been translated by many authors. Some people may have preference for one author over another. I particularly like the version give to us by T.E. Lawrence. Lawrence never believed he could do as well of a job as Homer, and he asked for two years to translate it. But it took him four years. He sometimes spent hours trying to perfect a single line. Lawrence learned Greek in school and read Greek comedies for relaxation during breaks in the war and battles he was busy fighting.

Lawrence offered the public something unique in that he attempted in his English translation to offer both the spirit and the narrative of the Greek original. Publisher Bruce Rogers wrote: ‘Here, at last, was a man who could make Homer live again – a man of action who was also a scholar and who could write swift and graphic English.

The Odyssey is about our Greek hero Odysseus and his journey home after the fall of Troy. The 1955 Kirk Douglas movie Ulysses is simply the best, 40 years later, and is a good preparation for getting into the spirit and guts of the book.

Odysseus spent 10 years fighting in the Trojan War, and he will spend another ten years attempting to get home. His wife assumed that he died. His faithful son must deal with dishonorable suitors who have lowly intentions for marrying his mother and assuming control of his estate. When Odysseus gets home to his wife Penelope, it will not be well for those who would attempt to possess his home, his wife, and his wealth. Even as we know the end of the book, it is still an irresistible read. Odysseus/Ulysses is a survivalist of the highest order.

by Xenophon

Okay, who knows this trivia? In the Anabasis, Xenophon must travel with his men to safety after being trapped behind enemy lines. What is that place now called? Yup, you got it right, Iraq. How about this one: Who knew the 1979 American cult film ‘Warriors’ directed by Walter Hill was based on this 400 BC event? Yup. In this book, a young Athenian noble named Xenophon gives an eyewitness account of the attempt by the Ten Thousand, (a Greek mercenary army), to help Prince Cyrus overthrow his brother in order to steal the throne. But things do not go well. Cyrus is killed and now the Greeks are without a patron or an employer. They are also without leadership for their Greek general and the rest of the higher leadership has been killed. The mercenaries have been betrayed. What are the options? Xenophon encourages the ten thousand to flee through hundreds of miles of hard terrain. Every part of the story is interesting, such as when Xenophon must use diplomacy or warfare to obtain supplies for his men, even as their way is barred and their enemies are barreling down upon them. Xenophon uses strategy to traverse indirect routes, or travels directly through territories if he must. He has a serious plan, something all good leaders should have, and this will allow the men to survive. A good book on the matters of betrayal, success, leadership, controlling your forces, making ad hoc decisions, and doing nothing frivolous.

Thalatta! Thallata! The Sea! The Sea!

by Ernle Dusgate Selby Bradford.

Frank Miller’s comic book the 300 opened up another generation’s eyes to the story of the Spartans. And Zack Snyder’s visceral movie did the same. Though they are historical inaccurate, the spirit of their work, continues on in the hearts of young men. History books once seemed only for the classroom and for history teachers. But today, young boys and men pore through these ancient historic works in order to grasp at what built Spartan strength. How did a small Spartan army hold off a massive invasion coming from Greece. How did men so willingly stand up for their nation and willingly die for their nation? King Leonidas surely knows their fate. Only the best of them are selected. From Plutarch, Sayings of Kings and Commanders we get:

“When Paedaretus was not chosen to be one of the Three Hundred, an honor which ranked highest in the State, he departed cheerful and smiling, with the remark that he was glad if the State possessed three hundred citizens who were better than himself.”

The book introduces readers to the people, the events, and the strategies that led up to the battle at Thermopylae. The mighty Spartans would go into a three-day battle to hold of the pass at Thermopylae (the Hot Gates). They know they will not survive. They know there will be no further tomorrows, and yet they stood strong. The Spartans at the Hot Gates will demonstrate incredible courage, patriotism and in the end sacrifice themselves willingly. This is a good read for a young man, and an excellent re-read for those who have already been inspired to stand up strong.

The Art of War by Sun Tzu. Okay, who hasn’t heard of this book? This book is one of the most popular books on military strategy and war tactics. It is still regarded as one of the most important works in Chinese literature and military strategy. Many versions of this book have been translated and published. I recommend Ralph Sawyer’s version. Sawyer also wrote the book the Tao of Spycraft. Some believe that Napoleon read Sun Tzu’s texts. Let me tell you, as a kid, this book was waaaay too hard for me to grasp. I had to find it in comic-book form to get some idea of the concepts taught. Sun Tzu goes into much about how battles are won or lost before they begin. The leader that understands the psychology of his opponent, and whom understands himself, while making preparations for war will win. It is not enough solely to prepare. The leader must make his army formless, must remain unfathomable to the enemy, and make the enemy spread itself out to attack.
Strategy based on foreknowledge is covered, and being stronger in numbers is not necessarily an advantage. Being clever can render an opponent’s intelligence useless. How is this done? Contemplation of what Sun Tzu has written can bring enlightenment on tactics and techniques to use for vanquishing an enemy.

by Miyamoto Musashi.

The Third Technique

“The sword is held in the lower position; as the opponent strikes, you strike at his hands from below. As you strike at his hands, the opponent strikes again; as he tries to knock your sword down, bring it up in rhythm, then chop off his arms sideways after he has struck. The point is to strike an opponent down all at once from the lower position just as he strikes. The guard with the sword in the lower position is something that is met with both early on and later on in the course of carrying out this science; is should be practiced with sword in hand.”

Some publishers offer books that have already been translated into English, and then the English versions context and meaning is changed by another English author, for profit, as if they were the originator. These changes alter what Musashi meant. If you are going to read this book, ensure that you get Cleary’s or Wilson’s versions. During the Edo period, Musashi was a swordsman of great talent and a painter. He developed a two-sword style of fighting. In this, he earned victory over his opponents in sword fights as he traveled throughout Japan. He won his first duel at the age of thirteen. I think at that age I was just figuring out middle-school. One of the entertaining notes here is how he vanquished an opponent by utilizing the boat oar he carved into a wooden sword. He roamed the land looking for samurais to duel. When he could find any willing enough to test their skills against him, he would eventually win 60 of those bouts. Sometimes Musashi fought against multiple enemies. This is a fine book by a talented warrior who put his martial philosophy to the test. Thinking you’re great at something is one thing, but knowing you’re talented actually comes by doing the hard work.

Over the many years that we have been fighting wars overseas many Americans still don’t know anything about Wahhabism, and yet this strict form of Islam is practiced by many in Saudi Arabia today. We’ve heard of Sunni, Shia, and even Sufi Muslims but not about the Wahhabi Cult and how its adherents created a kingdom out of some very violent beliefs. But with the rise of IS and the destruction of many historical artifacts, the murder rape and enslavement of many men, women and children the world has to wonder what are the roots of this new terror group?

In the book, God’s Terrorists, Allen looks into the history of the Wahhabi, a fundamentalist Islamic-sect whose teachings today influenced Osama bin Laden and the Taliban, from the 18th century and until today. He particularly looks at the teachings of Muhammad ibn Abd al Wahhab and his followers the Wahhabi,  as they seek the restoration of Islamic purity.  The Wahhabis of course assisted the Saudi clan in their rise to power.

The Arab kingdom of Saud seems to be one of many exporters for high-level complicity in global terror. Today, many counter-terrorism experts on global terrorism identify Wahhabism as one of many large sources of global terrorism. Some would say this is nonsense even though fifteen of the nineteen hijackers were Saudi nationals. Draw your own conclusions but it is true that Saudi Arabia was formed around Islam and founded upon Wahhabism; though they are friendly enough to supply our nation with oil, can any of us know their true intentions for our Western nation and culture?

by Edmund Yorke. In 1879, some 140 soldiers defended their outpost from up to 4500 attacking Zulu warriors. When it was over, 11 Victoria Crosses would be given Queen Victoria. Rorke’s Drift on the Natal border with Zululand, in South Africa held many sick and wounded The outpost was essentially a trading post with chapel, and a small dwelling house. The house served as a small field hospital. The appearance of the Zulus on the perimeter of the staging post  frightened away the Natal Native Contingent and left Major Gonville Bromhead with only his men. Of those 130 men, only 104 were capable of fighting.

Prince Dabalamanzi commanded his large corps of soldiers and defied his brother, the King Cetshwayo kaMpande, by crossing the Buffalo River into Natal. The prince attacked the outpost and it is here that the British defended themselves against wave after wave of Zulu attacks. Those who were too ill to shoot or fight loaded rifles.

The movie Zulu with Michael Caine is an exciting recount of the book. Some historians have discounted the accuracy of Yorke’s or Hollywood’s account but few can deny how excellent it is to tell and watch the tale. For me, the movie brings this tale to life, and I can better visualize the story, the lay of the land and the players.

Watching Major Bromhead, played by British actor Michael Caine, delivery his rifle volley upon the attacking Zulus is outstanding. Bromhead states to his men, to fire with accuracy and to, “not waste one round.” This required bravery and patience. The soldiers had to wait for the Zulus to approach closely with their assegais before the British soldiers could engage them with fire.

Major Francis Clery, who was garrisoned at Rorke’s Drift with Bromhead after the battle wrote, “Reputations are being made and lost here in an almost comical fashion… [Bromhead is a] capital fellow at everything except soldiering.  Lieutenant Henry Curling, who was also at Rorke’s Drift with Bromhead after the battle wrote, “It is very amusing to read the accounts of Chard and Bromhead… Bromhead is a stupid old fellow, as deaf as a post. Is it not curious how some men are forced into notoriety?” Is this true? Read the book and you decide.

The Man Who Presumed – Byron Farwell

by H.W. Brands. A good friend turned me onto this book. You will get some sense of what Grant was like because Brands fills the book with descriptive and insightful prose and he includes excerpts from letters and first person observations to describe Grant. Brands let us know that one of Grants qualities was his willingness to take on risk and be courageous in the face of war and politics. The country went through a very hard period and during that time, Grant faced the challenges as a General and as a President. But granted never lost a sense of who he was and what this country should be. On a trip abroad, Grant stated, “We have seen the capitals and most of the principal towns, and the people of every country. I have not seen any to be jealous of. The fact is we are the most progressive, freest, and richest people on Earth, but don’t know it or appreciate it. Foreigners see this much plainer than we do.” If we could only have Presidents today who thought like him.

by Winston Churchill, William Manchester. Where did men like Churchill come from and where have men like him gone? Into revered history. Churchill was a very different kind of man. Today, we note that some of our leaders are visionaries. We state they are eloquent. Well, the truth is, Churchill was the real thing. Read his writings, listen to his speeches, look at what he accomplished. He served as a war correspondent in South Africa during the Boer War and this will give us an insight into to man he will become. Churchill loved the military and believed himself to be an amazing strategist but he was an excellent writer too. His autobiography is filled with colorful insight. He recounts his life with hilarity and profound insight. Yes, Churchill was a loud, rude and demanding person, put he delivered more than he required and he took on Hitler with wit, charm and a strong British resistance and the insistence that England never give up. That attitude inspires England to stand strong. Churchill will go on to help develop the Modern British Navy and its tank corps. An amazing man indeed.

by Jack London. What youth hasn’t been fascinated with the subject matter London surrounded himself with? Sled dogs, snow, primal conditions and easy reading from simple to understand themes. London’s real life experiences gave him the knowledge to write about the things he knew, traveling, harsh weather, the outdoors and dogs. In our Modern age we have forgotten what it was like to live like London, and this took place scarcely 100 years ago. The book was written in 1903. London also explores the nature vs. nurture question. We can relate to the anthropomorphic qualities London injects into Buck. Is Buck a wolf or a dog? What is his purpose, his drive, his meaning. Young men and boys like Call of the Wild, but you’re never too old to give Call of the Wild a  quick read through.

by T.E. Lawrence. Thomas Edward Lawrence could write. And he could write very well. Anyone interested in a reading about his war experiences should pick up this one. Lawrence accomplished much in is short life. He had a command of the English language, and then some, for he could read speak French, German, Latin, Greek, Arabic, Turkish and Syriac as well. Some have called him a fraud, but most of those claims against him, over time has been disproved.  He was a very perceptive thinker, an excellent observer, and well knew his own failures. His sensitivity and deep introspection were treated as oddities in the early twentieth century. He was a short man, and so was he capable of the feats mentioned in the book? Blowing up train tracks, out-riding the Arabs and rushing to greet war. I have read over 20 books on Lawrence,and many of his papers, I do not personally believe him to be a Charlatan. He certainly understands his own broken nature and the motivations of other men. In the end he attempted to retreat to Cloud Hills for privacy. Read the Seven Pillars but don’t stop their. Take a look at http://www.telstudies.org/ as well.

The Long Range Desert Group (LRDG) LRDG Association newsletter from Italy , dated July 14th, 1945 begins, “It was decided by the War Office in June of this year that the LRDG should be disbanded with effect from August 1st, 1945” After five years of fighting it was decided by the powers that be, the men of the LRDG would shake hands and disperse to the four corners of the world. They would make attempts to stay in touch; many would and many would not but their experiences would never be forgotten. Their adventures in the desert so unique in the vast expanses of sand. Their vehicles were all turned over to the Return Vehicle Depot and they would go their ways.

Author Mike Moran does his leg work here and puts together an engrossing read. Who were these men of the LRDG? The essence of these desert fighters was captured in a statement made by the Adjudant of the Reinforcement Training Depot to a Major Leo Capel, once in charge of a LRDG unit, “they’re not the usual type: They’re sort of different.” Different they were. It took a breed of man who could travel the desert and be without quick resupply. He had to rely on his team and they upon him.

Sting of the Scorpion is an epic account of Britain’s Long Range Desert Group. Author Mike Moran of the book Daggers Drawn gives us a detailed view into what it was like to work during this period of time…the infancy of the group and what it would become. From it’s early beginnings until the time the split up in 1945, the LDRG was the original Special Forces group carrying out many amazing raids with their men, guns and vehicles.

by Carlo D’Este. This is truly a good book to read. D’Este writes a very burly book. It is loaded with specific information on Patton, from his days as a decathlete,  swordsman, husband and his beginnings as a military officer. When I began it, I was drawn into the portrait that D’Este painted of Patton. Upon reading about Patton’s control of the sabre, it first reminded me much of Sir Richard Francis Burton, because they were both excellent masters of this weapon. This acquired ability came from great discipline and much practice. Both sought out a fearless exploration of themselves and of the battlefields or regions of the world. Patton,  was a complex man. He was an athlete, a poet, a pioneer (the tank), and mostly a contradiction. Patton believed he was the most qualified to lead men into battle. He actually hated war, but if anyone was going to save lives and kill the enemy, it would be him. Patton studied and prepared like no other of his age. He read Shakespeare, the Bible, Kipling and studied war and history. Many disliked his arrogance and his harsh measures but Patton achieved results. Perhaps his inability to bend is what allowed him to take risks and to not compromise. Weak he was not. But Patton was also a romantic and had a soft side, away from the crowd. He loved poetry, the Bible (he could recite Scripture easily), his wife and believed he was in the same league as the men of Homer’s Iliad. A good read indeed.

Laura Hillenbrand. This book recommendation came from a Spec Op buddy. He loved it and it is one of his top 10 books to read. Hillenbrand tells an amazing story about running great Louis Zamperini. Zamperini was expected to be the first to break the 4 minute mile. But he wasn’t destined to win the gold medal at the Olympics because he would find himself adrift in a raft after his B-24 crashed into the ocean. After surviving 47 days in a shark-encircled raft he would be captured by the Japanese. Zamperini would use his skills as a thief to survive but he barely did. He was under the thumb of a brutal sadist who took pleasure in torturing and then killing POWs. Hilldebrand’s heart-wrenching book is full of harsh and descriptive narrative such as the story of a man kept naked in the Tokyo Zoo. The Japanese were allowed to, “gawk at his filthy, sore-encrusted body”. Zamperini risked his life to save others as a POW. She recounts his unbearable experience and tells his hell-ride with such humanity and compassion. After the war Zamperini wrote to his former tormentor to forgive him, but his tormentor refused, and rejected the likable fellow. Zamperini suffered from severe PTSD. His nights are clouded by severe haunting, night-mares and his days are spent drinking heavily. The book is full of memorable, colorful characters and is a good read for those who want to know how Zamperini got through all of it. The most amazing thing about Zamperini is not that he experienced incredible events, but that he had so much spirit.

The Siege of Dien Bien Phu by Bernard B. Fall. On 21 February 1967, while accompanying a company of the 1st Battalion 9th Marines on Operation Chinook II, the jeep Fall was riding in struck a  land mine, killing him along instantly. He was dictating notes into a tape recorder, which captured his last words: “We’ve reached one of our phase lines after the firefight and it smells bad—meaning it’s a little bit suspicious… Could be an amb—”. Fall left behind his wife and three daughters. Fall was an interesting soldier. He felt that American was capable of holding back the Communist push into Vietnam, yet he was critical of the US tactics and the leadership of the Vietnamese president. He was an academic and a soldier who lived on the front lines. Noam Chomsky has regarded him as the greatest voice on the Vietnam War criticism. Well, I have never highly regarded Noam Chomsky. But I will say that Fall clearly understood that the US and the French did not understand the culture and society of the Vietnamese at that time. Vietnam was never malleable since her first contact with the French in 1876, to the departure of the US in 1975, and never would be. For nine centuries, the Vietnamese fought to repel China. It would be hard for the US or France to make much headway with the little Dragon and Fall understood this.  But Dien Bien Phu is a foreshadowing of what would happen to the French ambitions and the US take over an unwieldy war against the Viet Minh.

Ia Drang—The Battle That Changed the War in Vietnam / LTG (Ret.) Harold G. Moore and Joseph L. Galloway.  Hal Moore took on the task of testing the then new Huey choppers. Some 450 men of the 1st Battalion, 7th cavalry were dropped into the Ia Drang Valley. This is their tale. Under the command of LTG (Ret) Hal Moore they are dropped in to fight the enemy and find themselves surrounded by 2000 North Vietnamese soldiers. Here is where soldiers sacrificed themselves in order that their fellow brothers would survive. The 7th cavalry repulsed the attackers again and again. The men are in need of ammo and supplies but each time it became more difficult to do, and more difficult to evacuate the wounded. The helicopters were tested here, by providing medical evacuations, direct air strikes and bringing in more supplies. Medal of Honor recipient Sergeant Freeman’s tale is told in this book as he flies all day and night to remove 30 soldiers from the battlefield. Imagine the intensity of the battle while doing this, and trying to understand what is occurring around them; hell and confusion. You will not understand what is going to happen next and so this book will keep you engaged.

by Philip Caputo. I once went through a Vietnam period, where I picked up every book I could get at the used bookstore on the Vietnam war. Fire in the Lake, Bloods, A Bright Shining Lie. I picked up Caputo’s book a s well. Caputo wrote with a troubled conscience, an emotionally wasted conscience….however I didn’t feel that his book was on par with Tim O’Brien’s “the Things the Carried.” But Caputo’s book has a place within literary memoirs. I believe it is a bit dry in comparison, but the stories are engrossing enough and we can understand his gradual transformation and disaffection from the ideals he once had as he enlisted. Read it with an open mind. It is not an anti-war book. Caputo blames himself as much as he does his leadership.

A Story of Modern War by Bowden, Scott. This is Mark Bowden’s bloodbath account of the longest sustained, nastiest firefight involving American troops since the Vietnam War. How did this happen? On Oct 3rd, 1993 the goal of over nearly a 100 elite U.S. soldiers is too abduct two top Somali warlords and return to base, but the mission goes awry. 70 soldiers are seriously injured and 18 are dead after intense fighting.  This book is for real and not a Hollywood script. A chopper crashes, support is limited and the men are taking on casualties while killing a lot of enemies. Bowden weaves together multiple stories from various heroes who were there. His accurate tale came by way of earning the trust of the men who fought there.  This is a painstakingly written book because Bowden wrote it to obtain accuracy. He captures the essence of combat, -blood, noise, explosions, brotherly compassion, anger, fear, and valor. A well researched and well written book.

by Anthony Lloyd

I am very excited to learn that Actor Tom Hardy is set to star in a movie based on the Anthony Lloyd book My War Gone by By, I Miss it So. I can’t think of any actor better suited, can you? Hardy brings a deadly seriousness and dignity to the roles he plays.

I don’t recall why I picked up this book to read but once I began to turn the pages I realized how profoundly poetic and shocking a read it would be. The story is told by Lloyd, and describes his up close and personal visit to Bosnia. There is nothing beautiful about war but Lloyd’s ability to write and his recollection of his events was mesmerizing. So visceral.

Lloyd longed for the fury of war but felt he missed it as a British military commander during Desert Storm. He believed his time in service was anticlimactic. At 26, he decided to travel into Bosnia for a peek into the brutality of war and see its terrifyingly seductive power for himself. In doing so, he meets a colorful cast of characters and he sees things that trouble his nights with nightmares.

He recalls a French Foreign Legionnaire forever confined to a wheelchair, and the awful vision of a child’s face that haunts him. He discusses society in breakdown and shows the best and worst of people during war-time. He is suicidal, a drug user, perhaps a liar, but he can write and he can write well. His book is written with a tender view on gory and painful subject matters that take place in the mountains and cities of a broken world. But it is not the world that solely needs fixing, because Lloyd needs to fix himself. In traveling to Bosnia, he just may find the redemption he is seeking. Here is an excerpt:

“…bullets are seldom as unnerving as shellfire. It was logical that as long as you stayed away from the windows you would be unlucky to get hit, though the odd ricochet pinballed between the walls in an unpleasant series of whines and thwacks. So I lit a cigarette, dumped the rucksack, and installed myself in a suitable corner and watched what happened.

The first thing I noticed was the way the fighters’s faces seemed contorted: eyes wide, jaws clenched, mouths grimacing, skins oily with sweat. Nobody was still for more han a few seconds. It was as if small dust devils of energy would ripple one group or another into action, something close to a hysteria of juddering gun barrels, feverish concentration and tensed muscle, followed by an almost post-coital backwash when a firer would slide behind the cover of a wall, head lolling slightly, sometimes uttering an unnatural peal of relieved laughter, near to a giggle, to anyone who made glittering eye contact.

Then the vibe would rip into another part of the room, and that would suddenly convulse into activity and noise. There were the occasional shouts, grunts, and hoarse directives, all but lost to the overwhelming Kalahsnikov-crackling tempo and the jingle of falling brass…”

And another:

“Over a three-week period in the autumn of 1993, the fate of Vareš opened before me like a perverted fairytale. The cast included the Muslim folk of a forest village, a murderous pilgrim rogue and his band of killers in the valley below, a serb warrior who had the skull of an imam mounted on his jeep, and the embattled forces of good, represented by a company of Swedish troops.”

He must come home and deal with his own psychological scars and substance abuse. I hope they do not screw this up!

My War Gone By is a brutal yet sensitive story which addresses both the nature of addiction and the experience of war,” Hardy tells Variety. “I was struck by Anthony’s work and words, experiences, and for me his is an important voice and an important book.”

Hardy recruited his Warrior director Gavin O’Connor to co-produce the movie. “Anthony’s memoir was love at first page – a portrait of war like I’d never read before,” O’Connor says. “An up-close-and-personal account of a heroin junkie reporting from the front lines of Bosnia – the bloodiest conflict Europe has witnessed since the Second World War – who uses the high of war to kick his drug habit. It’s a book written with both fists. It’s Anthony’s Apocalypse Now. I feel privileged and honored for the opportunity to bring the book to the movies.”

War correspondent

He went to school for journalism and then went to Bosnia with a vague plan to cover the ongoing war. He started taking pictures but almost by accident an American reporter offered to buy some that he saw. So Loyd became a war photographer supporting himself by selling photos for 50 Deutschemarks per photograph. Much later Loyd was traveling taking photos with British forces around Travnik, central Bosnia and Herzegovina about 90 km west of Sarajevo. While covering a fire fight a French correspondent who was writing for The Daily Telegraph was wounded by a claymore mine set off by the Croat HVO forces. The wounded correspondent asked Loyd to fill in until the paper could send a replacement, Loyd agreed and so started his first job as a journalist.[1] Afterwards he was put on retainer by The Times of London and regularly sent to war zones around the world.

Among the wars he reported were the conflicts in BosniaKosovoChechnyaAfghanistanSierra Leone and Iraq. Loyd was noted for the risks he took in pursuing his stories. His most recent bylines (as of 15 September 2005) have been from Baghdad, where he has been out on patrol with both the American and Iraqi forces.

.Grossman uses Garrison Keillor’s short story called ‘Hog Slaughter’ to lay the framework for the rest of his book. We can understand how the farmer in Keillor’s story is used to slaughtering animals and how he can slaughter by ritual. We can follow from this story that Grossman believes our society is culturally adverse to killing. Because of a certain kind of habituation we are exposed to, our men have a certain phobia to violence. Grossman uses academic studies, personal accounts and looks into killing in combat through a psychological lens. How do people think before, during and after killing? Why can some kill while others cannot? Grossman posits that humans do not prefer to kill and it is an innate resistance that can be overcome by military training. The stress felt on the battlefield can be overcome by using techniques developed to ‘combat’ that aversion. Grossman writes too that American society is breaking down due the pervasive violence in the media and interactive video games. He provides a lot of anecdotes and facts to make this a very good read. Some critics have stated On Killing is over-rated. Draw your own conclusion, but let’s understand that Grossman has introduced new thinking into the mix, rather than solely regurgitating facts as some do to sound intelligent. He has introduced a multi-layered idea that can be discussed amongst people for a very long time.

by Michael Hirsh. Many people are familiar with the term Special Operations, yet some of those haven’t heard the name Pararescue. A quick Google search for the curious will turn up some really inspirational information regarding their humanitarian and combat related missions. Hirsh writes about the Air Force’s pararescue operations in Afghanistan. In his book, he recounts being imbedded with the 71st Rescue Squadron, and their missions to treat and evacuate sick or wounded troops. He chronicles his journey with the PJ’s (pararescuemen) and captures their commitment to selflessness even as they are jostled about by changing orders, missions, and situations yet rise up to serve. Anyone interested in reading a book about courage, sacrifice and does it in an insightful, humorous and respectful way will enjoy this book.

Trident: The Forging and Reforging of a Navy Seal There’s always something interesting to note about SEALs within the covers of books. These are some of the best trained fighters in our nation. Reading books about them allows us to understand them a bit better; what makes them tick, what are their motivations, who do they love, what is their guiding force?

Redman’s book plays out a bit differently than some other books on SEALs, because much of what Redman goes through in his journey takes place at home; he has to recover from his wounds. Not only do we get a recounting of his amazing stories of combat but Redman’s book is also about love, and beating the odds in an occupation that claims many lives yearly within its ranks. Lieutenant Jason Redman’s book is not only about his journey to physically recover from the serious wounds he received from machine-gun fire at point blank range but how he must mentally and spiritually re-grow as a person.

Fields of Fires-This book was first published in 1978 by James Webb (a Marine Corps Officer). It follows three Marines through the jungles of Vietnam on the An Hoa Basin in ’69. It a top read if you’re interested in the Vietnam war. it is one of the finest representations of what the men of that day and age had to experience during the intense, non-stop combat they faced. On top of the enemy, they overcame racism, a shit command (at points) and the austere conditions of the unforgiving terrain and weather.

Matterhorn-Another from the Vietnam Era, following a Marine Lt. through the jungles. “Matterhorn” is an epic read about the tribulations faced by Bravo Company after they are dropped in to the jungle and have to essentially fight their way out during the war. It took the author Karl Marlantes, a highly decorated Vietnam vet, over thirty years to write.

Black Hearts-Follows a group of guys from the 101st Airborne Division, 502nd Infantry Regiment through their deployment during 2005 in the “Triangle of Death,” just south of Baghdad. They take numerous casualties and experience combat on almost a daily basis. It gives a look inside of how the failure of command and daily conditions that most cannot imagine will test the will of some of the hardest men. The book takes a turn for the worse when four guys from 1st platoon perform a disturbing act to a family in retaliation for what they have experienced.

Shadows on the Koyukuk: An Alaskan Native’s Life Along the River by Sidney Huntington, Jim Rearden

Alone in the Wilderness by Dick Proenneke, Bob Swerer Sr., Bob Swerer

Killing the Rising Sun by O’Reilly-A timely and informative retelling of the United States’ war against Japan.  It primarily tells the story from a top down perspective with several fascinating personal stories interspersed throughout the book.  While it does much justice to explaining and justifying the use of the atomic bomb the book pays short shifts the Army role in the Pacific instead focusing on Marine operations that made up a quarter of the ground war.  A good book to refresh one’s memory on general events of the Pacific war especially those often ignored like Japanese atrocities but not as scholarly as is necessary to understand what it took to defeat Japan.

Relentless Strike by Naylor  This is the definitive unit history of Joint Special Operations Command and especially its role in the war on terror.  It is a must read book for those who have a specific interest in special operations forces,   the military historian and those interested in how America wields its most effective force against terrorism.  The book alternates between bird eye overviews and man on the ground perspectives.  Many of the stories and tales have never been shared before and the book is extensively footnoted.

The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom by Slavomir Rawicz

SKILLS IMPROVEMENT & MILITARY ENTERTAINMENT

The Men, The Mission, and Me – Pete Blaber. Blaber’s book is a fun one to read. He tells the reader via his book the different missions he went on, what he learned, and what we can learn.

Fearless – Eric Blehm

FITNESS AND HEALTH

MILITARY PREPARATIONS

MINDSET

Augustine of Hippo The Confessions, The City of God, On Christian Doctrine

Niccolò Machiavelli The Prince

Historians’ Fallacies: Toward a Logic of Historical Thought. By David Hackett Fischer. In his book, Fischer discusses over one hundred different logical fallacies and goes into great detail and uses well-researched and pointed references.

He makes logical fallacies very easy to understand. I too believe, those who are willing to apply logic over bias, will actually improve their historical thinking.  Fischer’s book is good for those interested in history. Fischer respectfully points out the mistakes of the most prominent and respected historians, for example those who believe history has epochs or stages, and corrects the writers in an amusing way.

The Tao of Spycraft

 

SHOOTING

Principles of Personal Defense

To Ride, Shoot Straight, and to Speak the Truth

Art of the Rifle

Another Country

Jeff Cooper on Handguns

The Complete Book of Modern Handgunning

Predators by Cooper & King-An outstanding introductory study of the criminal mind, profiling and the concept of victimology.  While a disconcerting and at times scary read this book gives the reader a critical insight into the criminal mind.  Its insights to reduce one’s probability of falling victim to predators and recognize them is critical knowledge for every law-abiding citizen and should be in anyone’s reference library who has an interest in personal security or fighting crime.

Book of Concealed Carry by Ayoob-A must have book for every individual that carries a concealed firearm or trains others to do so.  While potentially repetitive to the professional trainer Ayoob addresses a plethora of subjects that are often not addressed in many firearms courses like. Subjects like how to draw from a variety of less used holsters, legal issues the concealed carry practitioner should be aware of before he uses a gun and why one should use the same ammunition police use are all very helpful tips for both the user and the trainer.  While one may not agree with all of Ayoob’s tips one will learn something they didn’t know from reading this book.

SURVIVAL

SAS by John Lofty Wiseman. There are a lot of ‘definitive’ guides to survive in any situation any place in the world but Wiseman’s book was one of the first. Originally published in 1986, his was the first ninja book to go to. Wiseman is the former SAS soldier and instructor and his book gives you useful knowledge to build up your survival skills no matter if you are in the mountains, desert or national park.

The Ultimate Guide to U.S. Army Survival Skills, Tactics, and Techniques

US Army Survival Manual: FM 21-76

In Search of Truth and Honor Through the Dark Side of the Badge. By my good friend Detective Jo Jo Takasato

 

OUTDOORS READING MATERIAL FOR ENTERTAINMENT & PERSONAL GROWTH

Herman Melville Moby Dick; or, The Whale

The Old Man & The Sea – Ernest Hemingway

The Sun Also Rises – Ernest Hemingway

The Lord of the Rings – J.R.R. Tolkien

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

ENTERTAINMENT

Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky The Brothers Karamazov

George Orwell Animal Farm

F Scott Fitzgerald The Great Gatsby

Joseph Conrad Heart of Darkness

Dante Alighieri The Divine Comedy

Jonathan Swift Gulliver’s Travels

Edward Gibbon The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (Part 2)

Edward Gibbon The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (Part 1)

IMPORTANT

American State Papers The Constitution of the United States of America

Articles of Confederation

Declaration of Independence

Alexis de Tocqueville Democracy in America

 

 

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About The Author

Mike credits his early military training as the one thing that kept him disciplined through the many years. He currently provides his expertise as an adviser for the DoD. Michael Kurcina subscribes to the Spotter Up way of life. “I will either find a way or I will make one”.

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