University of North Carolina Reading List for Military History

This is the University of North Carolina's reading list for graduate students studying military history (courtesy Wayne Lee):

Reading List for the Ph.D. in Military History (2015) 

 

Students taking a Ph.D. in military history are expected to be familiar with the following works. They comprise 75 books plus a series of historiographical articles. In addition, the student will cooperate with their advisor in making an additional list of 25 books relevant to their geographical specialty, as well as additional historiographical articles. This additional list is not intended to be specific to their proposed dissertation. Samples of supplementary lists are available. This list of 75 is intended to provide a core competency in the field of military history, and is deliberately light on American history, as it assumes that most students will be working in American history, and thus it will dominate their own list. Although light on American history, it is still "western" heavy. One reason is that works on China, Japan, and South Asia have only had (to date) limited influence on military history as a subdiscipline. 

 

Those persons admitted into American or European history and who are doing Military history as their topical field are responsible for the first 25 books on this list, as well as constructing an additional list of 25 books (using this list and others available at request) related to their geographical specialty, and overlapping with their proposed dissertation research. 

The first 25 books in this list, and all the historiographical articles, should guide readings for those doing military history courses as part of their "teaching field." 

 

Note that inclusion in this list is not necessarily endorsement of the argument. The list was once alphabetical. It is no longer! 

 

Historiographical 

Dennis E. Showalter, "A Modest Plea for Drums and Trumpets." Military Affairs 39 (April 1975):71-74. 

 

Richard H. Kohn, "The Social History of the American Soldier: A Review and Prospectus for Research," American Historical Review 86 (1981): 553-567 

 

Edward M. Coffman, "The New American Military History." Military Affairs 48 (1984): 1-5. Peter Karsten, "The 'New' American Military History: A Map of the Territory, Explored and Unexplored." American Quarterly 36 (1984): 389-418.

Brian M. Linn and Russell Weigley. "The American Way of War Revisited." Journal of Military 

History 66 (2002): 501-33.

John A. Lynn, "Clio in Arms: The Role of the Military Variable in Shaping History," Journal of Military History (1991): 83-95.


Michael Howard, "The Use and Abuse of Military History," in Howard, Causes of Wars.

Peter Paret, "The History of War and the New Military History," in Paret, Understanding War: Essays on Clausewitz and the History of Military Power (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992).

John Shy, "The Cultural Approach to the History of War." Journal of Military History 57:5 (1993): 

13-26.

John A. Lynn, "The Embattled Future of Military History." Journal of Military History 61 (1997): 

777-789.

Jeremy Black, "Determinisms and Other Issues," Journal of Military History 68 (2004): 

1217-1232. 

 

Wayne E. Lee, “Mind and Matter—Cultural Analysis in American Military History: A Look at the State of the Field,” with comments by Tami Davis Biddle, Brian P. Farrell, Marc Milner, Brian Holden Reid, and Ronald H. Spector, and “A Final Word” by Lee, Journal of American History, 93 (2007): 1116-1162. 

 

Robert M. Citino, "Military Histories Old and New: A Reintroduction," American Historical Review 112 (2007): 1070-90. 

 

THE FIRST 25 

1. Bartov, Omer. Hitler's Army: Soldiers, Nazis, and War in the Third Reich. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991. 

2. Chase, Kenneth Warren. Firearms: A Global History to 1700. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003. 

3. Clausewitz, Carl von. On War. Eds. Michael Howard and Peter Paret. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986. 

4. Contamine, Philippe. War in the Middle Ages. trans. Michael Jones. Oxford: Basil Blackwell Inc., 1984. 

5. Gat, Azar. War in Human Civilization. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.
6. Gray, J. Glenn. The Warriors: Reflections on Men in Battle. New York: Harper & Row, 1970. 7. Overy, R. J. Why the Allies Won. New York: W.W. Norton, 1996.
8. Hale, J. R. War and Society in Renaissance Europe, 1450-1620. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins 

University Press, 1985.
9. Howard, Michael. War in European History. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976.
10. Huntington, Samuel P. The Soldier and the State: The Theory and Politics of Civil-Military 

Relations. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1957.
11. Keegan, John. The Face of Battle. New York: Viking, 1976.
12. Mahan, Alfred Thayer. The Influence of Sea Power upon History, 1660-1783. Boston: Little, 

Brown, 1890.
13. McNeill, William H. The Pursuit of Power: Technology, Armed Force and Society Since A.D. 

1000. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982.
14. James McPherson, For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War (New York: 

Oxford University Press, 1997).
15. Millis, Walter. Arms and Men: A Study in American Military History. New Brunswick, N.J.: 

Rutgers University Press, 1981.
16. Paret, Peter. Makers of Modern Strategy From Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age. Princeton, N.J.: 

Princeton University Press, 1986.
17. Parker, Geoffrey. The Military Revolution: Military Innovation and the Rise of the West, 

1500-1800. 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988, 1996.
18. Lee, Wayne E. Waging War: Conflict, Culture, and Innovation in World History New York: 

Oxford University Press, 2016.
19. Landers, John. The Field and the Forge: Population, Production, and Power in the Pre- 

Industrial West. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.
20. Spector, Ronald H. At War at Sea: Sailors and Naval Combat in the Twentieth Century. New 

York: Viking, 2001.
21. Sun Tzu. The Art of War. Trans. Ralph D. Sawyer. Boulder, Col.: Westview Press, 1994. 22. Thucydides. The Peloponnesian War. various complete editions, esp. the Penguin, and the Landmark. 

23. Tilly, Charles. Coercion, Capital and European States, AD 990-1990. Cambridge, Mass.: Basil Blackwell Inc., 1990. 

24. Hull, Isabel V. Absolute Destruction: Military Culture and the Practices of War in Imperial Germany. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2004. 

25. Weigley, Russell F. The American Way of War. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1973. 

The Next 50 

26. Adams, Michael C. C. Echoes of War: A Thousand Years of Military History in Popular Culture. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2002. 

27. Linn, Brian McAllister. The Echo of Battle: The Army's Way of War. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2007. 

28. Biddle, Stephen D. Military Power: Explaining Victory and Defeat in Modern Battle. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2004. 

29. Biddle, Tami Davis. Rhetoric and Reality in Air Warfare: The Evolution of British and American Ideas About Strategic Bombing, 1914-1945. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2002. 

30. Brewer, John. The Sinews of Power: War, Money and the English State, 1688-1783. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1989. 

31. Browning, Christopher R. Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland. New York: HarperPerennial, 1998. 

32. Cipolla, Carlo M. Guns, Sails and Empires: Technological Innovation and the Early Phases of European Expansion, 1400-1700. New York: Pantheon Books, 1966. 

33. Clodfelter, Mark. The Limits of Air Power: The American Bombing of North Vietnam. New York: Free Press, 1989. 

34. Kennedy, Paul. Engineers of Victory: The Problem Solvers Who Turned The Tide in the Second World War. New York: Random House, 2013. 

35. Kilcullen, David. The Accidental Guerrilla: Fighting Small Wars in the Midst of a Big One. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. 

36. Douhet, Giulio. The Command of the Air. New imprint. Washington, D.C: Air Force History and Museums Program, 1998. 

37. Lee, Wayne E. Barbarians and Brothers: Anglo-American Warfare, 1500-1865. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011. 

38. Freedman, Lawrence. Strategy: A History. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013.
39. Gaddis, John Lewis. The Cold War: A New History. New York: Penguin, 2006.
40. Gat, Azar. A History of Military Thought: From the Enlightenment to the Cold War . Oxford: 

Oxford University Press, 2002.
41. Glatthaar, Joseph. General Lee's Army: From Victory to Collapse. New York: The Free Press, 

2008.
42. Grimsley, Mark. The Hard Hand of War: Union Military Policy Toward Southern Civilians, 

1861-1865. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.
43. Grossman, Dave. On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society. 

Boston: Little, Brown, 1995.
44. Guilmartin, John Francis. Gunpowder & Galleys: Changing Technology & Mediterranean 

Warfare at Sea in the 16th Century. Rev. ed. Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 2003. 45. Hall, Bert S. Weapons and Warfare in Renaissance Europe: Gunpowder, Technology, and 

Tactics. Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997. 

46. Hanson, Victor Davis. The Western Way of War: Infantry Battle in Classical Greece. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1989. 

47. Herring, George C. America's Longest War: The United States and Vietnam, 1950-1975. 4th ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2002. 

48. Crouch, David. William Marshal: Knighthood, War and Chivalry, 1147-1219. 2nd ed. London, New York: Longman, 2002. 

49. Hynes, Samuel, The Soldiers' Tale: Bearing Witness to Modern War (New York: Penguin, 1997). (read with Yuval N. Harari, "Martial Illusions: War and Disillusionment in Twentieth-Century and Renaissance Military Memoirs," Journal of Military History 69 (2005): 43-72). 

50. Echevarria, Antulio J. II. Reconsidering the American Way of War. Washington DC: Georgetown University Press, 2014. 

51. Johnson, David E. Fast Tanks and Heavy Bombers: Innovation in the U.S. Army, 1917-1945. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1998. 

52. Kaiser, David. Politics and War: European Conflict from Philip II to Hitler. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1990. 

53. Porch, Douglas. Counterinsurgency: Exposing the Myths of the New Way of War. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013. 

54. Keeley, Lawrence H. War Before Civilization. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996. 55. Kennedy, Paul. The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers: Economic Change and Military 

Conflict From 1500 to 2000. New York: Vintage Books, 1987.
56. Kindsvatter, Peter S. American Soldiers: Ground Combat in the World Wars, Korea, and 

Vietnam. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2003.
57. Lewis, Archibald R. and Timothy J. Runyan. European Naval and Maritime History, 300- 

1500. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1985.
58. Luttwak, Edward N. The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins 

University Press, 1976.
59. Lynn, John A. Battle: A Cultural History of Combat and Culture. Boulder, Colo.: Westview 

Press, 2003.
60. Machiavelli, Niccolo. The Portable Machiavelli. Trans. Peter Bondanella and Mark Musa. 

New York: Penguin; 1979.
61. Mackesy, Piers. The War for America, 1775-1783. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 

1964.
62. Mao Tse-tung. Selected Military Writings. 5 vols. Peking: Foreign Language Press, 1963. 63. McPherson, James M. Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era. New York: Oxford 

University Press, 1988.
64. Millett, Allan Reed and Murray, Williamson. Military Effectiveness. 3 Vols. Boston: Allen & 

Unwin, 1988.
65. Mosse, George L. Fallen Soldiers: Reshaping the Memory of the World Wars. Oxford: Oxford 

University Press, 1990.
66. David Crouch, William Marshal: Knighthood, War and Chivalry, 1147-1219, 2nd ed (London, 

New York: Longman, 2002).
67. Raaflaub, Kurt and Nathan Rosenstein, eds. War and Society in the Ancient and Medieval 

Worlds: Asia, the Mediterranean, Europe, and Mesoamerica. Cambridge: Center for Hellenic Studies, Harvard University, 1999. 

68. Ralston, David B. Importing the European Army: The Introduction of European Military Techniques and Institutions into the Extra-European World, 1600-1914. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990. 

69. Rogers, Clifford, ed. The Military Revolution Debate: Readings on the Transformation of Early Modern Europe. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1995. 

70. Lendon, J. E. Soldiers & Ghosts: A History of Battle in Classical Antiquity. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005. 

71. Sherry, Michael S. The Rise of American Air Power: The Creation of Armageddon. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987. 

72. Strachan, Hew. The First World War. New York: Penguin, 2003.
73. Thornton, John K. Warfare in Atlantic Africa, 1500-1800. London: Routledge, 1999.
74. Van Creveld, Martin. Supplying War: Logistics From Wallenstein to Patton. Cambridge: 

Cambridge University Press, 1977.
75. Weinberg, Gerhard L. A World at Arms: A Global History of World War II. Cambridge: 

Cambridge University Press, 1994.