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The Best Military Book

Last updated on August 12, 2019

We looked at the top 11 Military Books and dug through the reviews from 44 of the most popular review sites including Good Reads, KF4LMT, Steve Freeman, Battles and Book Reviews, New York Journal of Books, Conservative Book Club and more. The result is a ranking of the best Military Books.

Best Military Book

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Our Picks For The Top Military Books

Show Contents
Our Take
Experts Included
Pros
Cons
  The Best Overall

Mark Sullivan

Beneath a Scarlet Sky

Overall Take

Mark Sullivan’s "Beneath a Scarlet Sky" gives readers a new perspective on World War II. Set in Italy and the Alps, the book follows a young man as he helps Jewish people escape the terrifying confines of war. Though the writing can read a little dry sometimes, World War II... Read More

Experts Included
DWYM Entertainment Experts plus Good Reads, Compulsive Reader, Book Reporter, Amazon Book Review, Plugged In, Waridi’s World and 2 more. Along with user reviews from Amazon.
Pros
" Overall, this book is interesting because it gives a new perspective on war from a boy who has never been involved in it. Also, because it is from the perspective of someone who is from a foreign country, the reader..."
Cons
"The writing was also a bit lacking. Nothing wow about it. It was something I would expect to find in a Mystery/Thriller book, not a historical fiction. That’s even better than what it felt like. It was more like a..."
  The Best Value

Mitchell Zuckoff

13 Hours

Overall Take

"13 Hours" by Mitchell Zuckoff is a riveting true story of what six brave men endured during the infamous Battle of Benghazi. Filled with emotional intensity, the book showcases the sacrifices made that night for the greater good. However, the work does not touch on foreign policy and how it... Read More

Experts Included
DWYM Entertainment Experts plus Good Reads, Serious Reading, Star Tribune, The Boston Globe, Publishers Weekly, The Fedora Chronicles. Along with user reviews from Amazon.
Pros
" 13 HOURS sets the record straight on what happened during a night that has been shrouded in mystery and controversy. Written by New York Times bestselling author Mitchell Zuckoff, this riveting book takes readers into the action-packed story of heroes..."
Cons
"The book does not address the larger issues posed by Benghazi, including what Obama officials knew and when they knew it; and whether White House talking points were designed to mislead the American people about a possible role played by..."

Sean Parnell

Outlaw Platoon

Overall Take

Sean Parnell’s "Outlaw Platoon" is an honest retelling of the author’s own experience during the Afghanistan War. The prose is matter-of-fact and direct and shows the reader what it is like to engage in combat. However, at times, the writing is a bit repetitive.

Experts Included
DWYM Entertainment Experts plus Good Reads, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, Sophisticated Dorkiness, Seattle Pi. Along with user reviews from Amazon.
Pros
" Parnell's recollection and story-telling is outstanding. I felt as though I was fighting alongside those brave men, immersed in Parnell's world. Letting us inside his head is a rare thing, and I appreciated that."
Cons
"The book’s main flaw is a repetitiveness that becomes mawkish: Points about the soldiers’ personal burdens and the bond of brotherhood in combat are made so often that they become less rather than more effective."

Gregory A. Freeman

The Forgotten 500

Overall Take

"The Forgotten 500" by Gregory A. Freeman chronicles an unbelievable rescue that took place against unbeatable odds. The story reveals details that remained hidden from the public for decades. However, some of the verifiable historical facts appear to be inaccurate.

Experts Included
DWYM Entertainment Experts plus Good Reads, History Net, World War II Database, The Deliberate Reader. Along with user reviews from Amazon.
Pros
" This daring operation remained largely unknown for six decades afterward, due to government red tape, political machinations, and lack of public interest. It was stored mainly in top-secret files and the minds of the men who experienced it. Now, drawing..."
Cons
"In the latter part of the book, Freeman spent many pages on Mihailovic, whom he spoke of with favoring bias; stress was placed on his stern anti-Communist stance, his loyalty toward the Yugoslavian monarchy, and how he was abandoned by..."
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44

Expert Reviews Included

In addition to our expert reviews, we also incorporate feedback and analysis of some of the most respected sources including: Good Reads, KF4LMT, Steve Freeman, Battles and Book Reviews, New York Journal of Books.

117,692

User Opinions Analyzed

We also incorporate user reviews from the leading retailers including Amazon, Walmart.

Our experts reviewed the top 11 Military Books and also dug through the reviews from 44 of the most popular review sites including Good Reads, KF4LMT, Steve Freeman, Battles and Book Reviews, New York Journal of Books, Conservative Book Club and more. The result is a ranking of the best of the best Military Books.

DWYM is your trusted roduct review source. Our team reviews thousands of product reviews from the trusted top experts and combines them into one easy-to-understand score. Learn more.

Look for the DWYM seal for products that are the best in their category.

The Best Overall

Mark Sullivan Beneath a Scarlet Sky

Our Expert Score
8.6
8 expert reviews
User Summarized Score
9.4
25,426 user reviews
Our Take

Mark Sullivan’s "Beneath a Scarlet Sky" gives readers a new perspective on World War II. Set in Italy and the Alps, the book follows a young man as he helps Jewish people escape the terrifying confines of war. Though the writing can read a little dry sometimes, World War II buffs will appreciate the account of this bestselling historical fiction novel.

What other experts liked
Overall, this book is interesting because it gives a new perspective on war from a boy who has never been involved in it. Also, because it is from the perspective of someone who is from a foreign country, the reader...
- Compulsive Reader
May 20, 2018 | Full review
In Sullivan's hands, though, this novel takes on something much more. The work he has done co-authoring several books with James Patterson is not lost in this effort as it reads very much like a thriller. This is an important...
- Book Reporter
May 4, 2017 | Full review
Struggle, Love, Joy, Despair, and ultimately Triumph. The experiences and themes of a great lifetime are all there in less than two years of Pino’s young existence. A tale of heroism, adventure, and love that ultimately becomes a deeply emotional...
- Amazon Book Review
August 28, 2017 | Full review
The author opens the book with a summary of how he came to learn about Pino’s story. At a low point in his life, he contemplated suicide but had a change of mind. He prayed to God for a story...
- Plugged In
The focus on Italy was my main take away from the book. I enjoyed it because it was brand new information. I have never gone in depth with my research on the axis countries other than Hitler’s Germany. It was...
- Waridi's World
September 25, 2018 | Full review
The author, Mark Sullivan, did a fantastic job researching for this book. As a result, the book gives us amazing insight into the closing months of the war in Italy. We feel the atrocities as they happen. It is a...
- Eat Read Cruise
March 23, 2019 | Full review
Based on the true story of a forgotten Italian hero, BENEATH A SCARLET SKY is the triumphant, epic tale of one young man’s incredible courage and resilience during one of history’s darkest hours.
- Italia Living
April 1, 2017 | Full review
What other experts didn't like
I think one thing that Sullivan can improve on with the novel is making sure that there is enough conflict throughout to keep the reader interested. While the whole idea of war and love has plenty of conflict, there were...
- Compulsive Reader
May 20, 2018 | Full review
The writing was also a bit lacking. Nothing wow about it. It was something I would expect to find in a Mystery/Thriller book, not a historical fiction. That’s even better than what it felt like. It was more like a...
- Waridi's World
September 25, 2018 | Full review

The Best Bang For Your Buck

Mitchell Zuckoff 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened In Benghazi

Expert Summarized Score
9.0
6 expert reviews
User Summarized Score
9.6
3,858 user reviews
Our Take

"13 Hours" by Mitchell Zuckoff is a riveting true story of what six brave men endured during the infamous Battle of Benghazi. Filled with emotional intensity, the book showcases the sacrifices made that night for the greater good. However, the work does not touch on foreign policy and how it affected the battle.

What other experts liked
13 HOURS sets the record straight on what happened during a night that has been shrouded in mystery and controversy. Written by New York Times bestselling author Mitchell Zuckoff, this riveting book takes readers into the action-packed story of heroes who laid their lives on the line for one another,...
- Serious Reading
"13 Hours" is a jarring narrative at times, but well-flowing. It dwells mostly on the six security operators, who they were, how they prepared for their jobs and how they reacted in a crisis and depended on one another.
- Star Tribune
July 19, 2015 | Full review
“13 Hours’’ provides a moving reminder of the sacrifice made by these men who had voluntarily put themselves in harm’s way, and who “believed in their work and their country.”
- The Boston Globe
Journalist Zuckoff has a knack for recreating the emotional intensity of combat in his reading of his book; Zuckoff’s evocative delivery also successfully captures the ambiguity of the conflict, as the soldiers find themselves unsure of exactly who they are fighting and how to engage the enemy.
- Publishers Weekly
13 HOURS is a stunning, eye-opening, and intense book--but most importantly, it is the truth. The story of what happened to these men--and what they accomplished--is unforgettable.
- The Fedora Chronicles
What other experts didn't like
The book does not address the larger issues posed by Benghazi, including what Obama officials knew and when they knew it; and whether White House talking points were designed to mislead the American people about a possible role played by Al Qaeda. “13 Hours’’ provides little guidance about the foreign...
- The Boston Globe
Given the rapid-fire style of the interactions, casual listeners may find themselves struggling to keep up with the story.
- Publishers Weekly

Our Military Book Buying Guide

For those who are interested in learning more about wars, military books provide excitement and intrigue. Military books can cover a range of topics from strategy to technology to heroes. Military warfare is a complex and far-reaching topic, as are the books that cover it.

Non-fiction military books provide the story of real-life events that have taken place. Historical military books cover militaries and wars from long ago, such as those of ancient Greece and Rome or the Chinese Empire. Modern-day non-fiction military books cover wars that have happened more recently, such as World War I and World War II, in addition to the Iraq war and many others. The goal of most non-fiction military books is to provide the reader with a factual account of the role of the military event event the is covering. They may look at both sides involved in the war or focus on just one side. Some non-fiction books follow the life of a particular person who played a pivotal role in the actions of the military.

Fiction military books, on the other hand, cover imaginary events. Those events may be inspired by real-life wars and people, but the narrative is constructed and certain liberties are often taken in terms of what actually happened during the war itself. Fictional military books often have a central hero character who carries the weight of saving the world on their shoulders.

Many military books can be quite graphic when describing the battle. This may include detailed descriptions of injuries and deaths that take place during the fight, so keep this in mind when selecting a military book to read — especially if you are squeamish around blood.

In both non-fiction and fiction military books, the stakes are life and death, so emotion plays a key role. Readers become invested in the fate of certain characters, real or fictional, and it can be heartbreaking when they perish. While the overall plot of military books focuses on the war or the battle, the central characters are what captures the readers’ attention. It is the human element that makes military books so captivating.

DWYM Fun Fact

Recorded military history is not a new phenomenon. In fact, it goes back all the way to 1479  BCE. The first armed battle that was recorded by actual eye-witnesses was the Battle of Megiddo, which was between Thutmose III of Egypt and an alliance under the King of Kadesh. Long before that even, in 2700 BCE, was the first war in history as we know it. The Sumerians and Elamites battled it out together in a legendary war.

While not as old, the United States also has a storied military history. The start of the American military wasn’t with professional soldiers, however. It was civilians that made up local militias in the 1600s, protecting their villages from neighboring European colonies and Native Americans. It wasn’t until 1775 when the Continental Army, the predecessor to the United States Army, was founded.

The Military Book Tips and Advice

  • Before selecting a military book to read, it’s important to look at the plot of the book to pick one that resonates with your interests. Mark Sullivan’s “Beneath a Scarlet Sky” is a fictional story set during the time of World War II. It follows an Italian teenager as he helps Jews escape over the alps as part of an underground railroad. In the process, he falls in love with an older widow. “13 Hours” by Mitchell Zuckoff is a true account of what took place at the Battle of Benghazi on September 11, 2012. It follows the six American security officers as they go beyond the call of duty. Sean Parnell’s “Outlaw Platoon” is the author’s personal account of the bravery of the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division and their efforts against insurgents in the mountains of Afghanistan. “The Forgotten 500” by Gregory A. Freeman is the previously classified true story of the 500 American soldiers that were trapped behind enemy lines in Nazi-occupied Yugoslavia during World War II. The story focuses on the men’s perseverance and their incredible never-before-told rescue by Allied Forces.
  • For many readers, the author of each military books plays an important role in the purchasing decision. Certain authors have a particular style of storytelling that readers love, while others bring a unique perspective to the military events taking place in the book. “Beneath a Scarlet Sky” author Mark Sullivan is an award-winning author of over a dozen books, as well as a career investigative journalist. He also writes a bestselling series with world-renowned author James Patterson. On the other hand, Mitchell Zuckoff, author of “13 Hours,” is a professor of journalism and the author of six other non-fiction books. Sean Parnell, author of “Outlaw Platoon,” was a U.S. Army Ranger who was promoted to a commander of a 40-man elite infantry platoon. He writes about his first-hand accounts. Gregory A. Freeman, author of “The Forgotten 500,”  is an award-winning narrative non-fiction author with more than 25 years of journalism experience.
  • The awards a military book has won is an important factor when deciding which one to read. If a book has won critical acclaim or reached the top of the bestseller list, then you know many others have read and enjoyed it. Mark Sullivan’s “Beneath a Scarlet Sky” is a Goodreads Choice Award Finalist for Historical Fiction and a 2017 Goodreads Top 20 Most-Read Book. On the other hand, Sean Parnell’s “Outlaw Platoon” is a New York Times Bestseller.
  • The length of the book may affect whether or not you want to read it. Sometimes, people want a long and detailed book to delve into night after night, whereas other times you want a short and quick read you can get through on a lazy weekend. Mark Sullivan’s “Beneath a Scarlet Sky” runs over 520 pages, whereas “13 Hours” by Mitchell Zuckoff is just over 320 pages. Sean Parnell’s “Outlaw Platoon” is over 410 pages, while “The Forgotten 500” by Gregory A. Freeman is under 340 pages.
  • For many readers, the price of the military book plays a role in the purchasing decision. Mark Sullivan’s “Beneath a Scarlet Sky,” “13 Hours” by Mitchell Zuckoff and Sean Parnell’s “Outlaw Platoon” are all available for under $10 in paperback format. On the other hand, “The Forgotten 500” by Gregory A. Freeman costs just under $15 for a paperback version.