- By Thomas E. RicksThomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Everyone is always telling junior officers what to read, so in the February issue of Army magazine I was pleased to see their own list of favorites, compiled by "Company Command," with also-rans also identified.
1. Once an Eagle, by Anton Myrer
2. We Were Soldiers Once . . . and Young, by Harold Moore and Joseph Galloway
3. Platoon Leader, by James Mcdonough
4. Taking the Guidon: Exceptional Leadership at the Company Level, by Nate Allen and Tony Burgess
5. Black Hearts, by Jim Frederick
6. Small Unit Leadership, by Dandridge Malone
7. On Killing, by Dave Grossman
8. Band of Brothers, by Stephen Ambrose
9. Made to Stick, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
10. Infantry Attacks, by Erwin Rommel
Also-rans include The Good Soldiers, by David Finkel (no. 15 with a bullet). At no. 25 I was impressed to see East of Chosin, by Roy Appleman. I actually thought that The Defense of Jisr al-Doreaa, by Michael Burgone and Albert Marckwardt, would be higher than no. 37, as would be the book on which it is based, The Defence of Duffer’s Drift, by E.D. Swinton, which came in at no. 20.
I’ve heard one aging Army Ranger lambaste Once an Eagle as a cheap, melodramatic novel. Say what you will, I don’t think one can understand today’s Army without having read it. Which is why I dedicated my novel A Soldier’s Duty (which is not on anyone’s list) in part "to Sam and Courtney."