Though war has been around for a long time, the way it is waged has changed and evolved with changes in human society. It’s important for war tactics to change with the environment, technology, cultural changes, the composition of the other side’s forces, and the political landscape. Otherwise, the consequences could be very bad. Many different tactics have been used around the world and in history, but some basic ideas are the same no matter where you live or how long you’ve been alive. In this list, you’ll find eight of the best books on military strategy. They range from ancient texts like The Art of War to more recent books like Zero-Sum Victory.
By Christopher D. Kolenda
Almost all of the United States’ major military interventions since 9/11 have turned out to be shaky and ultimately failed. Despite a series of tactical victories and a lot of power in the world, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were too hard for the world’s most powerful military. Were there two regimes in the developing world that the United States could not defeat?
A former US Army colonel and an author blame the US government for its obsession with zero-sum victory. Kolenda uses examples from history and her own experience to talk about three issues that have arisen because of the United States’ zero-sum mentality.
The Art of War
By Sun Tzu
This book may be the most well-known and used source for military strategy in history. Sun Tzu, a Chinese general, wrote this advice 2,500 years ago. It has helped all kinds of forces in their quest for victory. In the Chinese Civil War, Mao Zedong used the Art of War to help him win. Colin Powell, a former secretary of state, thought its lessons were important for every American soldier to know. Even sports teams have used Tzu’s ideas. This is a good place to start for anyone who wants to learn more about war.
The German Army Guerrilla Warfare
By Charles Melson
There is a lot of good information in this text about how small-scale military strategy worked in Germany from Napoleonic times to the Third Reich. It compiles translated historical analyses such as Kleinkrieg and the Bandenbekampfung, in which the Germans reflected on what succeeded and what went poorly in various campaigns. Charles Melson, who used to be the chief historian for the U.S. Marines, adds insightful comments about these German tactics. Giving a look at this often overlooked part of German military history in an easy-to-read way, the guerrilla warfare of the Germans turns out to be more complicated than people think.
Vikings at War
By Kim Hjardar and Vegard Vike
Can anyone live up to the bad name the Vikings have? After sailing became common in Scandinavia, the Vikings took over almost all of Europe and the rest of the world, from Asia to Africa. This book also talks about the offensive and defensive strategies, tactics, and traditions of Viking warfare. It also talks about weapons technology and how the Vikings had an impact on society. Over 380 stunning color illustrations are shown next to the analysis.
By Norman Franks
The use of aerial force in World War I was a big deal for the future of global war. During the evolution of airplanes, a new type of soldier was born: fighter pilots, who needed courage, intelligence, and the right training to be good at their jobs. As this book talks about how airplane technology quickly changed during World War I, it also talks about how commanders and frontline airmen used strategy and planning.
JFK and de Gaulle
By Sean J. McLaughlin
In the Vietnam War, the United States did not achieve its goals, but it also was a complete disaster. In other words, what strategic decisions led to this blunder, and how could the losses have been kept to a minimum? This book talks about how French President Charles de Gaulle tried to work with the Kennedy administration, and how the U.S. ignored his advice, which led to the deaths of more than 58,000 American soldiers.
By Adrian Stewart
During World War II, Japan used a desperate and terrifying tactic called “suicide attacks.” What makes the military want to ask for this kind of a sacrifice, and do the rewards ever outweigh the costs? This book tells the story of the Kamikaze Corps, from its start in the Battle of Leyte Gulf to the invasion of the Philippines in 1945 and the Battle of Okinawa, which seemed to go on forever. People in the Western military didn’t expect to see such extreme tactics. Author Adrian Stewart talks about how these strategies hurt the Allied forces.
Siege Warfare During the Crusades
By Michael S. Fulton
Muslims and the Franks, a group of people from Germany, had a lot of famous fights over the Holy Land. However, historians often don’t pay attention to how important sieges were during the Crusades. During siege warfare in the Holy Land, this book looks at every aspect of it, from strategy to tactics to how each army is made up. This book comes with a lot of illustrations, making it a unique and important look at a little-known part of military history.
On Grand Strategy
By John Lewis Gaddis
It’s a book that Yale Professor Gaddis wrote about strategy. It’s called On Grand Strategy. Gaddis takes parts of historical texts and people to give advice on how to run a business. Throughout history, from Thucydides to Lincoln, people have shown how the best strategists keep their eye on the goal while also navigating around obstacles.
The more you go up, the less common sense you have. “Common sense in this sense is like oxygen: the higher you go, the thinner it gets.” Strategies that work across all time and space are all about adapting means to achieve goals and having the patience to do so over time to reach those goals.