Best War Books: Learn Through Stories of Terrible Tragedy
War is not something that I or anyone should take lightly. The dangers, causes, and effects of every war that has ever happened on this planet are real, and each war has had its specific impact on every single person even if they haven’t realized it.
When the word “war” first comes into my mind, you almost immediately flinch away from the negative thoughts that it brings. Death, destruction, and doom are all easily associated with tales of humanity at its very worst.
War does, in fact, cause all of those terrible things. But there are many essential things about experiencing war as well, and those things can be rediscovered through the best books on war.
War has had huge influences on the world around us; stories of war have been written, told, and shared for as long as humanity has existed. Without these war tales making their way down to people like me, the world would not exist as it does today.
Every book about war has its own unique story, even if the stories are set within the same war. Each perspective, each culture, each country, and each person had their own story to tell, and I am but a student ready to learn the lessons embedded in each story.
There is a lot that the best war books can teach us:
- The psychological effects of war and how those effects carry on long past each battlefield.
- The idea that moral codes are not strictly written on a human scale but often differ between countries and cultures.
- Ideas of what is worth fighting for and what is worth losing to secure those victories.
These are far from the only things that the best books on war have shown me. To begin your education led from the battlefield, try the following books recommended by the best professionals and entrepreneurs in the world.
Best Negotiation Books
Churchill, A Life by Martin Gilbert is the most impactful book I've read this year. I generally enjoy reading biographies, as they're a great way to understand history in a more personal viewpoint, while also getting a glimpse of how influential figures overcame adversities and pursued their ambitions.
Churchill's life stood out to me for a couple reasons. When you think about the personal decisions made before, during, and after World War II, it's really amazing to realize how much one person's vision and leadership influenced the outcome of world affairs during the 1900s. During his long public career of 50+ years, it is admirable to see how he navigated politics and overcame setbacks to reach the pinnacle of his career as a war time prime minister.
Overall, it was very humbling to learn about Churchill's work ethic. As a political leader as well as an author, he is a true example of a public servant who envisioned a better (and more peaceful) world order and worked hard throughout his career to carry out that vision while also securing his legacy in history.
The best way to understand how the world resolves its conflicts and its tensions is by looking at how a conflict that has been studied thoroughly, like World War I, unfolded and resolved. Business is like this too. If anyone were to ever get to the heart of Coke vs. Pepsi, they would see a parade of mistakes in the same way World War I looks in retrospect—so many ways you could have done better.
When I look back at my career path, it is the one of an entrepreneur. I have built various businesses, from accounting and financial advisory firms to tech and security businesses. I have also spent most of my adult life in China, a country that is quite hostile to foreigners and very unfair. I have accepted to suffer the hardships of building my business without any investment from anybody, and stick very firmly to my values. I would recommend young people to read about adventure, hardships, and moral choices. Of course, it would be important to also read about the drivers of our humanity, hence the motley list below:
- The Second World War by Winston Churchill. "In War: Resolution, In Defeat: Defiance, In Victory: Magnanimity, In Peace: Goodwill".
When a look back at my career path, it is the one of an entrepreneur. I have built various businesses, from accounting and financial advisory firms to tech and security businesses. I have also spent most of my adult life in China, a country that is quite hostile to foreigners and very unfair. I have accepted to suffer the hardships of building my business without any investment from anybody, and stick very firmly to my values. I would recommend young people to read about adventure, hardships, and moral choices. Of course, it would be important to also read about the drivers of our humanity, hence the motley list below:
- We were soldiers once, and young … because entrepreneurship is infantry combat.
A Higher Call: An Incredible True Story of Combat and Chivalry in the War-Torn Skies of World War II
This book has wonderful qualities that I am certain will be picked up by other reviewers. But I would like to add the following. This is the most profound examination of how nationality is enforced on a group of people, with the internal colonization process and the stamping out of idiosyncratic traits. As someone suspicious of government and state control, I was wondering how France did so well in spite of having a big government. This book gave me the answer: it took a long time for the government and the "nation" to penetrate the depth of deep France, "la France profonde". It was not until recently that French was spoken by the majority of the citizens. Schools taught French but it was just like Greek or Latin: people forgot it right after they finished their (short) school life. For a long time France's villages were unreachable.
A great book, a great investigation.
Fact or fiction, the president knows that reading keeps the mind sharp. He also delved into these non-fiction reads:
- Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Evan Osnos
- Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman
- Moral Man And Immoral Society, Reinhold Niebuhr
- A Kind And Just Parent, William Ayers
- The Post-American World, Fareed Zakaria
- Lessons in Disaster, Gordon Goldstein
- Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Yuval Noah Harari
- The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin
- Andy Grove: The Life and Times of an American, Richard S Tedlow
- Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity, Katherine Boo
This book started my obsession with WWI, illustrating how drastically the world went from interrelated monarchies and cavalry charges to chemical warfare between modern nation states. If you want to see what disruption looks like, there's no greater period in human history.
There’s one book that I’ve given that it was just Christmas, that I’ve given away a lot of copies. This is a book about Winston Churchill by Boris Johnson. A very talented guy.
It’s vacation time so I got brave enough to start a sizeable trilogy by Ken Follett, The Century (Fall of Giants, Winter of the World, Edge of Eternity). The only expectation I had was to enjoy a good story, take my mind off into a different space. And it delivers, it’s a nice blend of history and fiction, an absorbing story throughout 20th century.
My favorite book is The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes. It's a book that covers a vast range of topics over a fifty year period. It talks about the scientific advances that led to the bomb, the personalities that made those advances, and at the same time covers the political choices and escalation of violence over the course of the first half of the 20th Century that paint the use of the atomic bomb on Japan as an almost inevitable conclusion of that escalation. The prose is as incredible as the story. It's really a treat to rea