Strategic Studies Core Readings


Read not to contradict, and confute; nor to believe and take for granted; nor to find talk and discourse; but to weigh and consider. Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts; others to be read but not curiously; and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention...

Francis Bacon,"Of Studies"


The following is a list of books, or more precisely, the categories of books,  that Strategic Studies students at SAIS should cover some time during their two years in the program.  If you can, read a couple from each category.   The list is designed to be flexible, and is subject to perpetual change.   Suggestions to the compiler are always welcome!

Classics & overviews Systems analysis & variants American military history Civil-military relations
War before 1939 World War II -- overviews World War II -- special studies War after 1945
Tactics Institutional studies Technology Intelligence
Logistics Nuclear issues Arms control & disarmament Literature
Biographies Memoirs Contemporary strategic issues Scholarly journals
More links!

Classics & overviews

Carl von Clausewitz, On War, Michael Howard and Peter Paret eds. and trans.
Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War.  
Geoffrey Blainey, The Causes of War, 3d edition  
Peter Paret, ed., The Makers of Modern Strategy  
Michael Howard, War in European History
_____, The Causes of Wars  
Paul M. Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of British Naval Mastery
William H. McNeill, The Pursuit of Power

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Systems analysis and variants

Alain Enthoven and K. Wayne Smith, How Much is Enough?  
Charles Hitch and Roland N. McKean, The Economics of Defense in the Nuclear Age
Samuel A. Tucker, ed., A Modern Design for Defense Decision Thomas Schelling, Strategy of Conflict
E. S. Quade and W. I. Boucher, eds., Systems Analysis and Policy Planning: Applications in Defense  

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American military history Walter Millis, Arms and Men
Allan Millett and Peter Maslowski, For the Common Defense
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Civil-military relations Samuel P. Huntington, The Soldier and the State
Samuel Finer, The Man on Horseback
Charles de Gaulle, The Edge of the Sword
Morris Janowitz, The Professional Soldier
Paul Hammond, Organizing for Defense
Samuel P. Huntington, The Common Defense: Strategic Programs in National Politics
Richard Kohn, The United States Military under the Constitution of the United States 1789-1989
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War before 1939

David Chandler, The Campaigns of Napoleon

Philippe Contamine, War in the Middle Ages

Hans Delbrueck, History of the Art of War in the Framework of Political History (4 vols., ancient times through French Revolution)

Christopher Duffy, The Military Experience of the Age of Reason (18th century)

J. F. C. Fuller, A Military History of the Western World (3 vols., through 1944)

Alistair Horne, The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916

Michael Howard, The Franco-Prussian War

Josephus, The Jewish War (Roman)

Lee Kennett, The First Air War, 1914-1918

Frank A. Kierman and John K. Fairbanks, eds., Chinese Ways in Warfare (pre-modern)

V. G. Kiernan, From Conquest to Collapse: European Empire from 1815 to 1960

Piers Mackesy, The War for America (1776-1783)

Garrett Mattingly, The Armada

James McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom (Civil War)

Robert Middlekauf, The Glorious Cause (American War of Independence)

Donald Morris, The Washing of the Spears (Zulu, 19th century)

George Orwell, Homage to Catalonia (Spanish Civil War)

Thomas Pakenham, The Boer War

Geoffrey Parker, The Military Revolution 1500-1800; The Dutch Revolt (16th-17th centuries)

Francis Parkman, Montcalm and Wolfe (Seven Years War in N. America)

Polybius, The Histories of Polybius (Punic Wars)

Gunther Rothenburg, The Art of War in the Age of Napoleon

Charles Royster, Destructive War (Civil War)
C. P. Stacey, Quebec 1759

Tacitus, The Annals; The History (Roman)

Hugh Thomas, The Spanish Civil War

David Trask, The War with Spain in 1898

Timothy Travers, The Killing Ground (WWI)

Russell Weigley, The Age of Battles (17th-18th century

Derek Wood and Derek Dempster, The Narrow of Margin (Battle of Britain)

Llewellyn Woodward, Great Britain and the War of 1914-1918

David H. Zook, The Conduct of the Chaco War

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World War II:  overviews

British, American, French, and German official histories of World War II
Peter Calvocoressi, Guy Wint, and John Pritchard, Total War
John Keegan, The Second World War
 Ronald Spector, Eagle Against the Sun

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World War II: specialized studies

John Gooch, Decisive Campaigns of the Second World War, a special issue of the Journal of Strategic Studies 13:1 (March 1990)
Richard Overy, The Air War 1939-1945
Louis Allen,  Burma

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Post-1945 war

Larry Berman, Planning a Tragedy (Vietnam)

________, Lyndon Johnson's War (Vietnam)

Clay Blair, The Forgotten War (Korea)

David Chanoff and Doan Van Toai, Portrait of the Enemy (Vietnam)

Mark Clodfelter, The Limits of Air Power (Vietnam)

Anthony Cordesman and Abraham Wagner, Lessons of Modern Wars (3 vols., 1973-1989)

Bernard Fall, Hell in a Very Small Place (Dienbienphu 1954)

Max Hastings and Simon Jenkins, The Battle for the Falklands

Stuart Herrington, Silence was a Weapon (Vietnam)

Dilip Hiro, The Longest War: The Iran-Iraq Military Conflict

Alistair Horne, A Savage War of Peace (Algeria, 1954-1962)

Keith Kyle, Suez (1956)

Zeev Schiff and Ehud Ya'ari, Israel's Lebanon War (1982)

________, Intifadah

Richard Sisson, War and Secession: Pakistan, India, and the Creation of Bangladesh

Olivier Todd, Cruel April: The Fall of Saigon

US News and World Report, Triumph without Victory (Gulf War, 1991)

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Tactics John Keegan, The Face of Battle (New York: Viking, 1976); Richard Holmes, Acts of War: The Behavior of Men in Battle (New York: Free Press, 1985); E. D. Swinton, The Defence of Duffer's Drift (1907; rpt. Wayne, NJ: Avery Publishing, 1986); Infantry Journal Incorporated, Infantry in Battle (Washington, DC: Infantry Journal, Inc. 1939); Wayne Hughes, Fleet Tactics: Theory and Practice (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1986); J. E. Johnson, The Story of Air Fighting (New York: Arrow, 1985).
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Institutional studies

Yigal Allon, The Making of Israel's Army

Correlli Barnett, Engage the Enemy More Closely (Royal Navy, WWII)

Omer Bartov, Hitler's Army

Gordon Craig, The Politics of the Prussian Army, 1640-1945

Christopher Donnelly, The Red Banner (USSR contemporary)

John Erickson, The Soviet High Command (pre-WWII)

William Fuller, Strategy and Power in Russia, 1600-1914

Paul Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of British Naval Mastery

Edward Luttwak and Dan Horowitz, The Israeli Army

Douglas Porch, The French Foreign Legion

G. J. Marcus, The Age of Nelson (Royal Navy, 1793-1815)

Arthur J. Marder, The Anatomy of British Sea Power (turn of the century)

________, From Dreadnought to Scapa Flow (5 vols., Royal Navy 1905 through WWI)

Philip Mason, A Matter of Honor (Indian Army, survey)

John McPhee, La Place de la Concorde Suisse (Swiss Army, in English)

Allan R. Millett and Williamson Murray, Military Effectiveness (3 vols., various countries 1914-1945)

David Ralston, Importing the European Army (19th century)

Gerhard Ritter, The Sword and the Scepter: The Problem of Militarism in Germany (19th century to WWI)

Herbert Rosinski, The German Army (17th century to early WWII)

Stephen Roskill, Naval Policy between the Wars (2 vols.)

John Terraine, The Right of the Line (Royal Air Force, WWII)

Jehuda Wallach, The Dogma of the Battle of Annihilation (Germany, 1866-1945)

Graham Webster, The Roman Imperial Army

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James P. Baxter, Scientists Against Time (US, WWII)

Brassey's, New Battlefield Weapons Systems and Technology; Land Warfare; Sea Power: Naval Vessels, Weapons Systems, and Technology; Air Power: Aircraft, Weapons Systems and Technology (these and other series of monographs on aspects of military technology)

Shelford Bidwell, Gunners at War (history of Royal Artillery)

Bernard Brodie, Sea Power in the Machine Age (naval 19th century)

Vannevar Bush, Modern Arms and Free Men (US, WWII and after)

Christopher Duffy, Fire and Stone (18th century siege warfare)

David Frieden, ed., Principles of Naval Weapons Systems (current)

Norman Friedman, variety of books on history of naval vessels

J. F. C. Fuller, Armament and History (dated history, through WWII)

D. E. Gordon, Electronic Warfare

John Lynn, ed., Tools of War (1445-1871)

Elting E. Morison, Men, Machines and Modern Times (essays, US 19th and 20th century)

National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Quest for Performance: The Evolution of Modern Aircraft

Robert O'Connell, Of Arms and Men (general)

Richard M. Ogorkiewicz, Technology of Tanks (2 vols.)

Alfred Price, Instruments of Darkness (electronic warfare)

Robert H. Scales, Firepower in Limited War (artillery post-WWII)

Richard Simpkin, Race to the Swift (future warfare, written in early 1980s)

Merrit Roe Smith, ed., Military Enterprise and Technological Change

A. J. Smithers, Rude Mechanicals; A New Excalibur (tanks in the 1930's and 1940's)

Lincoln R. Thiesmayer and John E. Burchard, Combat Scientists (US WWII)

Martin van Creveld, Technology and War (general)

Kenneth P. Werrell, The Evolution of the Cruise Missile


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Intelligence  R. V. Jones, The Wizard War (New York: Coward, McCann, McGeoghegan, 1978) [British version, Most Secret War] or Abram Shulsky, Silent Warfare (McLean, VA: Brassey's, 1991) or Walter Laqueur, A World of Secrets (New York: Basic Books, 1985).
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Logistics Martin Van Creveld, Supplying War (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977); Julian Thompson, Lifeblood of War: Logistics in Armed Conflict (London: Brassey's, 1991). back to top
Nuclear strategy Lawrence Freedman, The Evolution of Nuclear Strategy, 2d edition (New York: St. Martin's, 1989) or MacGeorge Bundy, Danger and Survival: Choices About the Bomb in the First Fifty Years (New York: Vintage, 1988); Bernard Brodie, Strategy in the Missile Age (Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 1959).
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Arms control, disarmament, and peacekeeping  Hedley Bull, The Control of the Arms Race, 2d ed. (New York: Praeger, 1965); "Arms Control: Thirty Years On," Daedalus 120:1 (Winter 1991); Bruce D. Berkowitz, Calculated Risks: A Century of Arms Control, Why it has Failed, and how it can be Made to Work (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1987); United Nations, The Blue Helmets: A Review of United Nations Peacekeeping (New York: UN, latest edition)..
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Edward Porter Alexander, Fighting for the Confederacy (Civil War)

Elmer Bendiner, Fall of the Fortresses (WWII bomber crew)

Seweryn Bialer, ed., Stalin and his Generals

Omar Bradley and Clay Blair, A General's Life

Arthur Bryant, ed., The Turn of the Tide; Triumph in the West (Alanbrooke, WWII)

Julius Caesar, The Gallic War

Guy Chapman, A Passionate Prodigality (British WWI)

Winston S. Churchill, The Second World War (any volume); The World Crisis (any volume).

N. J. Crisp, Brazen Chariots (British tanker, WWII)

Milovan Djilas, Wartime (Tito's aide, WWII)

Van Tien Dung, Our Great Spring Victory (Vietnamese commander)

Adolf Galland, The First and the Last (German airman, WWII)

Charles de Gaulle, War Memoirs

Ulysses S. Grant, Memoirs

J. Glenn Gray, The Warriors: Reflections on Men in Battle (officer, WWII)

Peter Grigorenko, Memoirs (Soviet general, WWII)

David Hackworth, About Face (Vietnam)

Franz Halder, The Halder Diaries (German general WWII)

Maurice Hankey, The Supreme Command, 1914-1918 (British cabinet secretary)

Roger Hilsman, American Guerrilla (WWII)

Max v. Hoffmann, The War of Lost Opportunities (German general, WWI)

Ernst Jünger, Storm of Steel (WWI)

George C. Kenney, General Kenney Reports (US WWII airman)

T. E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom  (WWI)

Charles B. MacDonald, Company Commander (US WWII)

Fitzroy MacLean, Escape to Adventure (British, WWII, Balkans)

Erwin Rommel, Infantry Attacks (German, WWI)

Antoine de Saint Exupery, Flight to Arras (French pilot, WWII)

Guy Sajer, The Forgotten Soldier (German soldier, WWII)

Ariel Sharon, Warrior (Israeli general)

Saad el Shazly, The Crossing of the Suez (Egyptian general, 1973)

William T. Sherman, Memoirs (Civil War)

John Slessor, The Central Blue (British, RAF, WWI to WWII)

William Slim, Defeat Into Victory (British commander, Burma, WWII); Unofficial History 1914-1945)

Holland M. Smith, Coral Brass (Marine general, WWII)

E. L. Spears Prelude to Victory (British liaison to French, 1917)

Johannes Steinhoff, Meserschmidts Over Sicily (German pilot, WWII)

Joseph Stilwell, The Stilwell Papers (US, WWII)

Truong Nhu Tang, A Viet Cong Memoir

Julian Thompson, No Picnic: 3 Commando Brigade in the South Atlantic, 1982

Nick Vaux, Take that Hill: Royal Marines in the Falklands War

Sandy Woodward, One Hundred Days (British commander, Falklands)

Laurens van der Post, The Seed and the Sower (British POW, SEAsia, WWII)

Ezer Weizman, On the Wings of Eagles (former head of Israeli Air Force) 
Georgi Zhukhov, Memoirs (Soviet, WWII)

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Honore de Balzac, The Chouans (Napoleonic)

Henri Barbusse, Under Fire (WWI)

Mikhail Bulgakov, The White Guard (Russian Civil War)

James Gould Cozzens, Guard of Honor (WWII)

Stephen Crane, The Red Badge of Courage (Civil War)

J. G. Farrell, The Siege of Krishnapur (Indian Mutiny)

C. S. Forester, The Ship (WWII); Rifleman Dodd, various Hornblower novels (Napoleonic)

George McDonald Fraser, The General Danced at Dawn (British, post-WWII)

Paul Fussell, The Great War and Modern Memory (WWI)

Robert Graves, Belisarius (Byzantine, 7th century)

Jaroslav Hasek, The Good Soldier Svejk (Austria Hungary, WWI)

Willi Heinrich, The Iron Cross (WWII)

Homer, The Iliad

Paul Horgan, A Distant Trumpet (US West, post-Civil War)

James Kennaway, Tunes of Glory (post-WWII)

Thomas Kenneally, Confederates (Civil War)

James Jones, From Here to Eternity (pre-WWII)

Jean Larteguy, The Centurions (1st Indochina War, Algeria)

Väinö Linna, The Unknown Soldier (Finland, Winter War)

Norman Mailer, The Naked and the Dead (WWII)

John Masters, Bugles and a Tiger; The Road Past Mandalay (pre-WWII, WWII)

James Michener, The Bridges at Toko-Ri (Korea)

Nicholas Monsarrat, The Cruel Sea (WWII)

Oxford Book of War Poetry

Theodore Plievier, Stalingrad (WWII)

Vasili Grossman, Life and Fate (WWII)

Erich Maria Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front (WWI)

Michael Shaara, Killer Angels (Civil War)

Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace (Napoleonic); Sevastopol Sketches, The Cossacks, The Raid (19th century)

Mario Vargas Llosa, The War of the End of the World (19th century)

Romance of the Three Kingdoms (Chinese)

Alfred de Vigny, The Military Necessity (19th century)

Evelyn Waugh, Sword of Honor (3 vols., WWII)

James Webb, Fields of Fire (Vietnam)

Edward Wilson, Patriotic Gore (study of Civil War literature)

Herman Wouk, The Caine Mutiny (WWII)

Frederick Manning, The Middle Parts of Fortune (WWI)

Emile Zola, The Debacle (Franco Prussian War)

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Hiroyuki Agawa, The Reluctant Admiral: Yamamoto and the Imperial Navy (WWII)

Correlli Barnett, The Sword Bearers (WWI)

Michael Carver, The War Lords (Allies, WWII)

Winston S. Churchill, Marlborough: His Life and Times (6 vols., or abridgement, 17th/18th century)

Douglas Southall Freeman, R. E. Lee (Civil War)

________, Lee's Lieutenants (Civil War)

J. F. C. Fuller, The Generalship of Ulysses S. Grant, Grant and Lee (Civil War)

Peter Green, Alexander of Macedon, 356-323 B.C.

Elizabeth Longford, Wellington (2 vols.)

John Lukacs, The Duel (Churchill and Hitler)

Elting C. Morison, Turmoil and Tradition (Henry Stimson, through WWII)

Peter Padfield, Dönitz (WWII)

Forrest C. Pogue, George C. Marshall (4 vols., WWII)

Norman Polmar and Thomas Allen, Rickover (US, 20th century)

Stephen W. Sears, George B. McClellan (Civil War)

Neil Sheehan, A Bright Shining Lie (John Vaughan, Vietnam)

Donald Smythe, Pershing: General of the Armies (WWI)

Alice Rains Trulock, In the Hands of Providence: Joshua L. Chamberlain and the American Civil War


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Contemporary strategic issues Read either three back issues of International Institute for Strategic Studies,
Strategic Survey (London: Brassey's); or skim two years' of back issues of two of the following: International Security; International Defense Review; Military Review; Parameters; RUSI Journal; Proceedings of the United States
Naval Institute
; Airpower Journal or skim three books on contemporary issues. 
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Important  scholarly journals Journal of Military History
Journal of Modern History
International Security
Journal of Strategic Studies
Security Studies
Intelligence and National Security
World Politics
(occasional articles)
Political Science Quarterly
  (occasional articles)
Militärgeschichtliches Mitteilungen
War and Society
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Links to bibliographic sites 
(most bibliographies not annotated)
Armed Forces Staff College Library 
US Army War College Library
Naval War College Library
National Defense University Library
Naval Postgraduate School Library

Air University Library
Marine Corps Research Center 
H-Net reviews;  H-War is the military section of H-Net and very useful
US Army Military History Institute
US Army Combat Studies Institute
Duke University top 100 books in military history
Military history syllabi, from the Society for Military History
Soon's Historical Fiction Site -- odd but comprehensive
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Copyright © 2000  Eliot A. Cohen