There are so many military books out there that we must limit our reviews to modern weapons and recent warfare.   Detailed reviews and prices are available from major on-line booksellers, like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.   The Marine Corps Gazette publishes its book reviews on-line, and so does Airpower Journal.   Keep in mind that many reviewers are idiots or deceptive salesmen, including some for military periodicals.  Some reviewers are friends of the authors, or enemies.  These brief reviews are only by Carlton Meyer.

The New American Militarism (2005)

     The subtitle "How Americans are Seduced by War" provides a clearer description of this excellent book authored by a retired US Army officer.  Although the book is written in a dry, academic format, it provides a historical overview of the post-Vietnam transformation of the US military and its citizenry.  The Vietnam disaster had left Americans fearful of any military interventions.  Careful manipulation has caused the pendulum to swing to the other extreme, where military force is now the preferred option to every foreign problem.  

     Unfortunately, the author does not address the fact that America's imperial adventures is funded mostly by borrowing from abroad.  No one disputes that this will soon lead to an economic catastrophe.  Even Alan Greenspan has called the mounting debt "irresponsible and unsustainable."  This is an important book that addresses issues generally ignored.  For example, he devotes an entire chapter to the pro-war "Christian" movement.  However, he blames this militarism mostly on warped ideology.  I would argue that profiteering by the military-industrial-congressional complex is also to blame.  There is also institutional support within the armed services who see opportunities for greater funding and career enhancement.  

The Sling and the Stone (2004)

     I was disappointed with this book about "21st Century Warfare."  It goes into great detail about recent insurgencies, which he likes to call "4th Generation Warfare."  I reject the notion that mankind has moved into a new era of radically different warfare that involves just hunting terrorists and dealing with insurgencies.  The USA has become an colonial empire, and its armed forces are not good at dealing with the resultant problems.  They are the same problems and threats that confronted empires as far back as the Romans.  They too had continual problems with rebellions and terrorists, e.g. assassins, in their occupied lands.  

     Basic warfare needs to evolve to reflect new technologies, but nations will still fight wars.  The problems in Iraq are not warfare, but those of colonial police.  This book does address important problems in the US military, such as misplaced priorities on weapons procurement and a dysfunctional career system.  However, most of it covers recent history in an attempt to portray future "warfare" as chasing down devious malcontents.  This book is not about future warfare; I didn't like it.

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man (2004)

     This is a must read book which provides first hand insight into how world banking organizations are used by the US government to control most nations. The author details how this stealthy form of conquest and colonization has lessened the need to use military force. "Development banks" like the World Bank are funded mostly by the United States. They hire expensive consultants, or "economic hit men" as they call themselves, to bribe and corrupt government officials of target nations to borrow huge sums of money for massive construction projects which are overpriced.

     The money is paid directly from the bank to western corporations and the poor nation is expected to repay the loan with interest. This leaves these poor nations saddled with a heavy debt burden whose leaders must be bribed or threatened to make interest payments and pressured to raise taxes or cut socials services for their citizens to pay the bankers.  In cases where this fails, the "jackals" are brought in (e.g. CIA or US Special Forces) to fix elections, incite riots, organize coups, or assassinate stubborn leaders.  In rare cases in which these first two steps fail, the US military is sent in for a traditional conquest.

     The author had a long career as a private "consultant" and notes this new form of warfare was first used to secure Iran in 1951 in order to avoid a military confrontation with the Soviet Union. He became wealthy yet disillusioned by this process as he saw it immoral and noted it generates worldwide hatred of the United States. He notes Venezuela is a current target, having been spared a few years as resources were needed to conquer Iraq.  This is an unusual book which discusses issues not taught in American universities or reported in corporate press.

Foot Soldier (1994)

     This an accurate and honest account of American infantrymen in World War II Europe.  This book is not about Generals, strategy, or major battles, but a daily account of an American foot soldier with the 84th Infantry division. He describes the excitement and gore of combat, with tales of constant hunger, cold, and exhaustion.  He debunks myths with accounts of US infantrymen destroying "invincible" German Tiger and Panther tanks, and complains of daily strafing attacks by the German Air Force while everyone back home reads lies of total American air superiority.

     This book was not written to glorify war.  It includes numerous accounts of American soldiers shooting prisoners, looting homes and dead bodies, and robbing civilians of food at gunpoint.  He expresses disgust for officers seeking undeserved medals, and the poor performance of the British Army.  On the other hand, he proudly describes the success of his division and the courage of American soldiers.  It is refreshing to read an honest account about war, and not the propaganda trash authored by best selling storytellers like Stephen Ambrose.

Fleet Tactics and Coastal Combat (2000) 

     This is an excellent book which covers the evolution of naval tactics.  The author shows courage to point out the US Navy's primary shortfall, a lack of small coastal combatants.  He provides an overview of the threat of land based anti-ship systems whose long-range pose a grave threat to modern navies.  Unfortunately, he doesn't discuss submarine, amphibious, or even carrier air tactics.  His discussion is limited to surface combatants engaging small coastal craft and land based missile systems.  The major problem of aircraft capable of launching dozens of missiles from long range is not even addressed.  Nevertheless, this is a unique book which is insightful, well-written, and a must read by all Navy officers and senior officers of all services.

The Wastrels of Defense (2004) 

Wastrels of Defense: How Congress Sabotages U.S. Security     Winslow Wheeler has written an important book detailing the growing corruption within the US Congress which degrades the effectiveness of the US Military.  This has always been a problem, yet has now reached a point in which the concern of most all Congressmen is only how much of the Pentagon budget can be secured for their state or district. This often involves redirecting money from training, ammunition, and spare parts accounts to pay for additional expensive aircraft or dubious construction projects.

     As a result, Congress has mostly abandoned its oversight role because asking tough questions irritates senior military and civilian officials, who may retaliate budget-wise.  In addition, defense contractors have political influence themselves, and are allowed to bribe any Congressmen through campaign contributions.  This book is not about warfare or military affairs.  This is an outstanding inside look of how politics is destroying the USA written by a defense budget expert with decades of experience on congressional staffs.

The Sorrows of Empire (2004)

     The subtitle, "militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic" is an accurate description of this book.  It provides an insider overview of the somewhat secret recent history of the United States after the end of the Cold War.  Author Chalmers Johnson  is a former naval officer and former CIA consultant whose conclusions most Americans will find shocking and disturbing.  This is a must read for anyone who wants to understand the burdens of empire the United States has embraced.

      Chalmers goes too far in portraying the US military and its government as a total instruments of evil.  For example, US economic aid has helped many nations, even if the intent of such aid is self-serving.   The USA has pressured governments to improve civil rights and promoted democracy.  Nevertheless, the American Empire will soon collapse as it is mostly funded by foreign borrowing.

Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War (2002)

     John Boyd is one of the most interesting characters in US military history.  This biography covers Boyd's life as he becomes the top fighter pilot in the US military, then the top critic of it's methods of warfighting.  He helped break the Air Force fixation with bigger and faster aircraft by showing that maneuverability was more important, which meant smaller fighters with bigger wings for tight turns; resulting in the F-16.  However, Boyd's brash personality limited his career to Colonel, yet after retirement he remained in the Pentagon to fight the increasing corruption in the procurement process.  This book provides an inside perspective into internal Pentagon struggles of the 1980s as "reformers" led by Boyd frequently exposed flawed weapons performance and cost overruns.  Sadly, Boyd and his reformers are all gone, while corruption in the Pentagon has become so bad that the armed forces seem unable to field new weaponry.

One More Bridge to Cross (1999) 

     This is a short, interesting book which takes aim at a basic problem in the US military.  The school solution to every problem is to drop bombs.  This book points out that bombing is expensive, sometimes unethical, and often counterproductive.  This was recently verified by US military actions  against Iraqi insurgents.  

     This book is short and doesn't go into much detail.  It focuses on ideology, even to the point of condemning abortion several times, while amusing historians by claiming the US military has never been committed to an unjust cause.  Overall, it is an average book worthy of reading.


Body of Secrets (2002)

    This is James Bamford's second book about the secretive National Security Agency (NSA); the largest intelligence agency in the world.  It's a long yet excellent recent history of this eavesdropping agency.  Bamford reveals several interesting historical facts, clearing any doubt that Israel knowingly attacked the USS Liberty in 1967, and that Israel's invasion of Arab nations that same year was unprovoked.  He goes into great detail into less interesting topics, so I skimmed through those parts.  He also reveals the NSA has struggled to adopt new technology and is far less effective than in the past due to the impossibility of monitoring all the world's e-mail and cell phone traffic.  This book has won wide acclaim, even by the NSA as Bamford was granted exclusive access since he also glamorizes many heroes of the NSA.  Overall, it's a long read, but worth it.

Transformation Under Fire (2003)

    This is US Army Colonel Douglas Macgregor's follow-up book for ideas he first presented in his 1997 book "Breaking the Phalanx". (see review below) His basic argument is that the Army's basic combat formation, the 20,000 man division, is too large to rapidly deploy and function properly on a fast paced battlefield.  He suggests that 6000 man "groups" are the solution.  I agree, although I have written that 6000-man divisions are a better idea. This time he offers thoughts on jointness and blasts Army Generals for refusing to change.  In particular, Macgregor wants to Army to flatten its old triangular structure by slicing out the field army and division headquarter layers to improve communications and free manpower for combat units.

     However, it is now obvious that the US Army cannot reform itself.  Although Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has stressed the need to transform the US military, he has had no impact on the Army, other than forcing them to abandon some of their prized Cold War bases in Germany and Korea.  Macgregor has shown great moral courage in writing this book and is certain to be punished by Army Generals for revealing the truth.

The Last Empire (2001)

      This book is a recent collection of essays by America's most controversial author, Gore Vidal.  He is considered so outrageous that he is rarely allowed on television as he exposes America's empire by providing information not allowed in American history books or corporate television.  As a result, he is called an extreme leftist, even though Gore served in Army during World War II, calls the IRS a criminal organization, mocks the Democratic party, and wants immigration curtailed.

      Many essays relate to games within the literary field, and life among the rich and famous, but most expose recent historical fallacies in America.  Gore represents the silent majority of Americans who do not want to sacrifice to rule the world.  He is sure to upset most readers with his insight, especially Americans whose knowledge of the world is limited to corporate media and public education.  I skimmed several of these essays, but those I read are witty, interesting, and enlightening.

Sun Tzu - The Art of War (1963)

      This is one of the most famous warfare books; the Eastern equivalent of "Clausewitz", except much older, based on essays from 2000 years ago.  It is interesting yet difficult to read.  The author doesn't paraphrase much to avoid battles among academics about the real translation.  As a result, it is disorganized and repetitive.  It does provide great insight in the Asian way of war and is the basis for many of the Chinese tactics used in Vietnam which baffled most American officers.  

      He warns of bloody urban fighting, which remains true today.  There are few drawings so its difficult to imagine many of the weapons and tactics. Although it's difficult to finish, it's a short book with many great quotes and worthwhile reading.  

Vietnam Primer (1967)

     This classic is now on-line thanks to Mike Sparks:  Vietnam Primer There is no cover picture, so I used co-author David Hackworth's book "About Face", which became a bestseller in the 1990s.  Vietnam Primer is a short interesting handbook with specific tactics used by the Vietnamese and interesting true battlefield stories.




The Path to Victory (2002)

    This is an important book which addresses the broken personnel management system known to everyone in the US military.  US Army Major Donald Vandergriff provides historical background to explain how this system evolved and how it cripples the US Army.  The promotion process in all the armed services is so bad that pulling names out of a hat from promotion is better than the current system.  Vandergriff also addresses the key issue of unit cohesion, explaining how the Army treats soldiers like "GIs", or spare parts that can be simply plugged into a unit.  Vandergriff proposes several ambitious reforms, like slashing the officer corps which has grown to a 1: 5 ratio of officer : enlisted, and ending the ridiculous "up or out career" system.

     Unfortunately, the current system has nurtured cultural corruption within the Armed Services where lying and selfish behavior among officers is accepted.  Those who have thrived in this environment are now Generals and see no problems with a system that has selected them as cream of the crop.  After decades of high stress resulting from degrading leadership which requires total obedience to one's rater, most General officers suffer from a form of mental illness and are unable to take serious actions even when they understand the gravity of the problem.  The only hope are civilian leaders, but they are mostly concerned about dividing up the Pentagon budget each year and few are veterans which understand these issues.  Despite some interest in Vandergriff's book, the US military will have to foul up another major conflict before the nation takes notice. 

Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace (2002)

     Gore Vidal is the most famous American banned from television.  A World War II veteran from a prominent family, he is the greatest critic of the "junta" he says rules the USA.  This short book is interesting, but mostly a collection of essays about the growing power of the Federal Government.  He is often called a "liberal", even though he writes that Timothy McVeigh had valid reasons for bombing, and the 1993 Waco massacre represents life in a police state.  Vidal also writes about the "American Empire" and its endless wars overseas.  This is not a great "book", but some interesting thoughts from a brilliant man scorned by the corporate media.

Mounted Combat in Vietnam (1978)

Cover: Mounted Combat in Vietnam      I read this outstanding book many years ago.  As the US Army shifts to counter-insurgency operations, all US military officers need to read this book.  I didn't list it before because its out-of-print and only found in a few government libraries.  However, some brilliant people in the Army are gradually putting the Army's historical "lessons learned " books on-line.  While reading this book, you will find the Army must relearn many of the lessons from Vietnam; like gun shields are needed for machine guns and anti-personnel tank rounds are vital.  You can read this book on-line:  Mounted Combat in Vietnam.  The homepage link there gives you access to other books.

Breaking the Phalanx (1997)

       I finally got around to reading this well known book.  This is the only serious post-Cold war book which proposes a major reorganization of the US Army.  Douglas Macgregor want to break up the Army's ten divisions into 26 independent brigades, which he calls groups, based on the current structure of the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment.  This is a detailed and bold proposal which rocked the Army's boat for a while.  The biggest obstacle is the tradition of each divisions, so I'd call the groups "divisions" since they would be far more powerful than Army divisions of World War II.   However, army Generals may hate the idea of 26 active duty divisions because it sounds like a huge force, which is true.

      Macgregor struggles to find modern day scenarios to justify 26 combat groups on active duty, and angered Army Generals for not dreaming up fantasies for a larger active duty army.  He was vague on how these heavy forces could be logistically supported for major blitzkrieg tactics, and fails to mention the need for 1000 heavy lift helicopters.  He does recognize that most of the Army needs ships to rapidly deploy, but can't resist bashing the value of Navy and Marine Corps.  The books drifts toward politics and demanding more Army funding, and argues for a huge Imperial American army overseas, possibly just to gain support of the "Generals".  Nevertheless, Colonel Macgregor is a highly intelligent and open minded soldier who demonstrated great bravery by publishing this book.  He has continued pushing for change at the National Defense University and may help the Bush administration's "Transformation" team  overcome resistance in the US military.

Virtuous War (2001)

      The subtitle to this book "Mapping the Military-Industrial-Media-Entertainment Network" seemed interesting.  During America's biannual wars, CNN and Fox News cover wars like a running drama between good guys and bad guys.  They never address the complexities which cause war, like PBS Frontline does, but act like an extension of the Pentagon's public relations team.  I thought this book would shed some light on this cozy relationship.  

     Unfortunately, the author knows almost nothing about the US military or warfare, and didn't bother to read many books about the subject.  This is the story of a guy who went to "Oxford" for four years and learned about philosophy, then got a lucrative grant to study the military and spent it traveling the world to fill pages in this book.  There are a few interesting items, but the book is mostly his ramblings about philosophy and personal travels.

Black Hawk Down (1999)

      This is one of the best military books to appear in recent years.  Black Hawk Down covers the disastrous US military raid in Somalia in 1993.  Mark Bowden is an excellent writer who manages to explain this complex and nasty battle from the perspective of all involved.  Once again, a well-trained and overconfident US military force is surprised by illiterate, yet experienced Third World warriors.  This force of Rangers and Delta Force "operators" fought bravely and managed to extract themselves from a grave situation in which 19 GIs and hundreds of Somalis died. The battle is a classic example of how heavy armor is needed for urban warfare.  The problem of egos among "elite" units like the Delta Force is also revealed.

Combat Service Support (2000)

     You've all read that amateurs study tactics while experts study logistics.  This is generally true, with most senior military officers and armchair warfare experts knowing little about Combat Service Support.  This book was touted to include the lessons of the 1990-91 Desert Shield/Storm operations, but included very little.  It is mostly a dry US Army textbook, with SOP orders and procedures.  It does include many interesting planning charts, which include insights, like plan for only 75% of trucks and helicopters to be operational.  If you know nothing about logistics and are desperate to learn something, try this book, otherwise wait until I find something better.

Blind Man's Bluff (1999)

      This is an excellent Cold war expose about the activities of the US Navy's secretive attack submarines.  This Navy "community" still struggles with a peacetime role of deploying overseas to maintain a "presence" while attempting to operate undetected.  As a result, it has developed a sport of lurking offshore, even violating national borders to gather intelligence.  This has caused numerous embarrassments, but often yields valuable intelligence.  The biggest success was the tapping of Soviet undersea communications cables.  The book has a slow start as it covers the post-World War II era, but becomes very interesting as it progresses to modern day.

Special Forces (2001)

    Another of Tom Clancy's excellent series about the US Military. (see review far below)  If you know nothing about the US Army Special Forces (e.g. Green Berets) this book is very educational.  They are not commandos, but instructors and advisors.  Clancy ignores Army Rangers and Navy Seals, which are part of the Joint Special Operations Command.  There is a lot of information about current events, along with standard Clancy ass kissing interviews.  Training bodyguards to protect pro-western dictators is a frequent mission, which along with excessive deployments hurts retention of expensively trained Special Forces soldiers.   However, all soldiers are caught up in the US military's continual funding scam in which excessive deployments are used to help justify budget increases.

Air-Mech-Strike: 3-Dimensional Phalanx (2001)

     This is one of those rare books which challenge conventional military wisdom.  A team of former Army officers offer a bold plan to transform the U.S. Army with airmobile medium armored brigades based on M113A3s and smaller vehicles like the German Wiesel.  Heliborne operations were a popular topic until the post-Vietnam era when the Army focused only on defeating the massive Soviet army from home bases in Germany.  The book also discusses the urgent need for small vehicles to carry gear for infantry squads, and many other important topics which rarely make print.

      However, the book tends to focus only on the very rapid deployment of these helicopter forces worldwide, rather than their tactical use in conjunction with heavier forces.   The book should have stressed the need for a serious increase in helicopter lift, like 1000 CH-53Fs to easily lift M113s and light tanks, instead of buying over 1000 Comanche recon helicopters.  The book barely mentions the need for rapidly deployed soldiers to draw supplies directly from ships with helicopters.  Despite these oversights, the book does a magnificent job in discussing new lighter combat technologies.

The Brethren (2001)

      What does a John Grisham book about three ex-judges in Federal prison have to do about future warfare?  In a complex plot, the director of the CIA decides to back an unknown Congressman to run for President with the platform of doubling defense spending.  The CIA chief lines up millions of dollars in campaign donations and support from the corporate media.  Suddenly, this "unknown" becomes the Presidential front runner, even though polls show Americans do not support more military spending.  The CIA director then begins covert effort to hype the terrorist threat to scare voters.  The campaign is placed in jeopardy when the imprisoned judges find out the future President likes "boys", and try to cut a deal.  This book is fiction and exaggerates, but its fun reading which makes you think.

Rogue Warrior (1992)  Real Team (1999)

      I read "Rogue Warrior" several years ago and found it interesting.  It deals with Richard Marcinko's first hand experience in the US Navy SEALs, considered one of America's elite organizations.  He provides insight on the difficulty of making changes in the U.S. Navy's conservative bureaucracy.   Like many warriors, he has a love/hate relationship for the U.S. military.  He seems to have little regard for laws or human values, the pure mercenary mentality which disturbs professional military men.  If the U.S. President wanted someone killed, he was happy to do the job, and waste anyone who got in the way.  This is why President Reagan and his Ollie North gang formed a separate "Special Operations Command" in the 1980s; so they could  conduct secret and often illegal operations without interference from Admirals and Generals.

     Marcinko and his ghost writers have churned out a dozen "commando" books in recent years, and a couple business "leadership" books.  I've only read "Real Team", because I thought it would reveal some real world operations, but I ended skimming most of it.  Its just a series of personal stories about his friends in the Navy, with his business leadership advice.  Some of his military ideas apply to the real world, most are absurd.  He seems to think that "business" involves lining up fat government contracts for "security" and acting tough.  I  hoped that "brash" Marcinko would write about some of the secret operations he participated in during the Cold war, but he's probably concerned about his Navy retirement checks. 

Private Warriors (2000)

       This is one of the best recent books about the U.S. military-industrial complex.  The demise of the Soviet Union has sent "Cold Warriors" scrambling to invent new threats and new ways to profit from the American taxpayers.  The greatest threat to American national security is the corruption found in Washington DC as war profiteers push the USA to become involved in every dispute around the world.  Arrogant Generals like Henry Shelton believe that it is "our" duty to serve as the world's policemen, and permit rackets which allow most Generals to become multi-millionaires.  As a result, the USA now spends as much today on what is laughingly called "national defense" as it did during the Cold war.   You can only find out what's really going on from books like "Private Warriors" not from corporate newspapers, TV news or magazines.

Bravo Two Zero (1994)

     One of the best books to come out of the 1991 Gulf War.  This is an honest personal account of a British SAS commando mission deep into Iraq to find SCUDs.  It shows how simple plans can go wrong even in this "digital age".  The old problems of food, water, ammo, communications and weather remain major problems on the battlefield.  This book provides great insight into the complexities and hardships modern soldiers still face.


This War Really Matters (1999)

     Veteran military correspondent George C. Wilson paints a realistic picture of how U.S. defense budgets are constructed and approved.  Mr. Wilson is one of America's top military experts who understands that military budgets are formulated to make money for insiders, not to defend the United States.  This is an easy to read book which sheds light on what military problems the USA faces and why spending more money will only make matters worse.


Fortress America (1999)

     William Greider, one of the most brilliant men in America, takes a shot at explaining the huge military-industrial complex.  This is a short book consisting of small stories aimed at the common man.  He spotlights the coming train wreck as huge communist-style bureaucracies fight for survival in an era of peace.  Meanwhile, our military has retained a huge active duty force structure while planning to replace all their modern weapons with far more expensive items.  This is an outstanding book for novices, but somewhat shallow for defense insiders.


Hazardous Duty (1997)

     David Hackworth is a retired Army Colonel who has become America's best war reporter.  Hack has been to all of America's post-Cold war military adventures and shares his first-hand account about what really went down.  He is critical of using American fighting men as political pawns and exposes spineless senior officers more interested in personal promotion than mission accomplishment.  Hack continues writing an outstanding weekly column "Defending America" which is too upsetting for most newspapers, but can be read at Hack's website,

Incident at Sakhalin: The True Mission of KAL 007 (1996)

Incident at Sakhalin:      French aircraft investigator Michel Brun adds another book casting doubt on the 1983 shoot down of Korean Air Flight 007.  Brun lives in Japan and traveled to coastal areas in Northern Japan to collect aircraft wreckage found shortly after the Reagan administration announced that the evil Soviets had shot down an off-course airliner killing 260 people.  No part of KAL 007 nor any bodies were ever recovered after it crashed in shallow waters, despite extensive searches.  Brun speculates that KAL 007 crashed hundreds of miles to the south, probably shot down by Japanese F-15s shortly after Soviet fighters shot down at least 10 American reconnaissance aircraft flying over Soviet airspace.

     This theory sounds bizarre until Brun carefully lays out the evidence, including wreckage of an EF-111.  Keep in mind that the new Reagan administration was eager to challenge the Soviets.   American war games off the Soviet Pacific coast became serious as large scale electronic warfare exercises allowed American reconnaissance aircraft to penetrate Soviet airspace to test air defense networks.  The USA often used the heavy commercial air traffic along the Soviet coast to hide from radar.

     Local Soviet commanders ignored these incursions, which only encouraged the Americans to take larger risks.  Eventually, the Soviets became angry and dispatched two airborne radar aircraft and several new MIG-31 long-range interceptors to the region.  They surprised several unarmed American aircraft, mostly RC-135s and EF-111s and shot them down.  KAL 007 was involved in this game and intentionally flew off-course.  Once the shooting began, KAL 007 dropped down to sea level, turned out all lights, then flew out to sea toward Japan and "disappeared" off the Japanese coast.  Since the Japanese military had scrambled dozens of fighters during the air battle, it seems that a large low-level aircraft flying without lights, transponders, or radio contact could be mistaken for a Soviet bomber, so they shot it down.

      The U.S. government has admitted that over 150 U.S. military personnel were shot down over the Soviet Union during the Cold War.  The international cover-up seems rational.  The Reagan people didn't want anyone to know what happened and the Soviets feared retaliation.  Shortly after this incident, the U.S. military halted provocative military exercises and the Soviets got international loans.

Gassed in the Gulf (2000)

     This is one of the most interesting military books to appear in recent years.  Former CIA imagery analyst Patrick Eddington resigned his cushy job at the CIA and wrote this book rather than participate in a cover up affecting the health of thousands of Gulf war vets.  Apparently, GIs were exposed to low levels of nerve gas as a result of attacks against Iraqi chemical munitions during the Persian Gulf war.   The Iraqis also used chemical mines, chemical SCUDs, and sprayed U.S. troops from afar, including once from a MIG. 

      The Iraqis had used low-level exposure tactics against Iran during their 1980-1988 year war based on research by the Soviets.  They purchased necessary equipment from the USA and used U.S. 155mm white phosphorus projectiles, since its easy to replace the phosphorus with any chemical.   Saddam Hussein had received over $2 billion dollars in credits to purchase American goods with the help of the CIA/BCCI bank in Atlanta.  These were "loans" for "grain", but the Iraqis were allowed to buy anything to help them stalemate powerful Iran.  This explains the rush to destroy Iraqi ammo dumps after the war without prior inspection because too many troops were talking about U.S. Army markings on Iraqi crates.  The U.S. Marine Corps even added several Iraqi Huey helicopters to its inventory.

     Since low-level exposure causes no immediate health problems, the extent of this disaster did not become known until months after the war ended.  At that time, the U.S. military was basking in the limelight after crushing the small nation of Iraq, President Bush was running for reelection, and Swartzkopf and Powell were considering political office.   As a result, there were continual and angry denials that anything happened despite mountains of evidence.  The first edition of this book in 1997 received some press coverage, but  few people wanted to battle the Pentagon.  I sent a review to several military magazines, and they refused to acknowledge the existence of the book.  Patrick Eddington demonstrated great courage to publish this book, read it.

Angels Don't Play This HAARP (1995)

     This may be one of the most important future warfare books available to the public.  There is no doubt that the U.S. Government is spending millions of dollars in Alaska for the ultra-secret High-frequency Active Auroral Research Project (HAARP), but what is it?   Basically, very powerful electric currents flow high above the Earth's surface, and HAARP is an attempt to manipulate this power into a weapon by heating certain parts with huge microwaves.

      One of the most brilliant scientist who ever lived, Nikola Tesla, invented Alternating Current (AC) and developed theories on how this power could be focused on a specific part of earth, the ultimate "death ray".   The importance of HAARP has been compared to the Manhattan Project which developed nuclear weapons.  As a result, there is almost no public information available.  Jeane Manning and Dr. Nick Begich have collected some interesting facts and ideas about HAARP, but nothing solid.  They are mostly concerned that curious scientists are willing to risk the health of our planet to toy with powerful forces.  If you are interested in secret scientific weapons, or just electricity, this is a great book, however, there is not a lot of solid information for those interested in weaponry.

Tom Clancy's non-fiction series (1990s)


     Tom Clancy does a magnificent job of organizing and explaining the U.S. military in his non-fiction guidebooks:  Submarine, Armored Cav, Fighter Wing, Marine, Airborne, Special Forces, and Carrier.  However, Clancy usually follows the public relations line of the Pentagon, so these books lack insight into serious problems in the U.S. military.  Nevertheless, these six books are the best way for to learn about the U.S. military; his other books are mostly heroic fairy tales. 

The Minuteman: Restoring an Army of the People (1999)

     Former Senator Gary Hart makes a noble attempt to analyze the post-Cold War U.S. military in The Minuteman.  He argues that we must demobilize our military to fund research, development and procurement.  Billions of dollars are wasted each year to maintain and train units for unlikely conflicts.  More importantly, most units would need to wait several months before they could be transported to conflicts.  Hart explains that our military would become much stronger by relying more on reserve troops to save money on manpower and operations.

      His conclusions are correct, but will anger many readers who have been duped by heavy propaganda that American forces are "stretched to the limit".  In fact, most all missions are exercises invented by Admirals and Generals to keep units overworked.   The book provides excellent historical background, but it's a small book lacking in specific recommendations, except for noting some of mine.   Another book which provides excellent background in the active-reserve force mix, is On Strategy II, by Col. Harry Summers.

Digital Soldiers (1996)

     James F. Dunnigan, one of America's true military experts, wrote an excellent book about the U.S. military.  He provides a broad overview of the historical development of military technology which serves as outstanding primer.  He doesn't write much about future weapons and tactics, but then no one does, except G2mil.  

        He boldly addresses the fact that militaries exist to make money for insiders.  Wars increase profits, but often expose the years of misspent funds.  "Digital Soldiers" is about all aspects of our military, not just the Army.  Anyone who considers themselves a military expert will learn a great deal from this book.

Killing Hope: U.S. Interventions since WW II (2000)

    A great book for those of us indoctrinated by the U.S. government to think Americans only do good work abroad.  After the end of World War II, the USA became the Imperial enforcer for major western corporations, often crushing democratic movements.  Michael Blum wrote this well researched  and cynical book about American goals.  During the Cold war, the Pentagon cited "communism" as an excuse for intervention, now it struggles to excuse frequent U.S. military actions to establish "a new world order" as former President George H. Bush called it; he stole the phase from Adolf Hitler.   

     Most American military personnel are demoralized because they joined to defend America and find themselves serving as corporate mercenaries.  There are no real foreign threats to American national security.   All American military deployments are simply a racket to justify massive peacetime military spending.   As one officer put it: "we deploy to hotspots to find harm to get in the way of".

On War (1832)  

Carl Clausewitz wrote a good book for his time, but its a dull book for those interested in modern and future warfare.  This review may be a shock since most people are too insecure to demean a book which has become a "classic".

     This famous book is available on-line: On War.


Historical Publications

The US Army also has several valuable books online; click Army Historical Books.

Professional Reading Lists

Official U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and JCS lists

Soldiers for the Truth