Military Non-fiction


Defense Professional
Verified Defense Pro
A few of my favorite nonfiction titles are:

(In order by author)
Bevin Alexander - How Wars are Won
Mark Bowden - Black Hawk Down
Tom Clancy - Shadow Warriors
Tom Clancy - Special Forces
Robin Moore - The Hunt for bin Laden
Linda Robinson - Masters of Chaos

I would have to say, without a doubt, Masters of Chaos is my favorite, though (and my most recent read).


New Member
good non fiction

hi ,
heres a few titles i thought were cool

Storm of Steel - Ernst Jünger
Panzer commander - Von Luck
The Last Valley - Martin Windrow
Armageddon - max hastings
Street without Joy or Death in a Very Small Place - Bernard Fall


New Member
Well i buy a lot of military books, the best ones this year so far :

The Baby Killers (about the German air raids on Britain in WW1 - highly recommended)
Janes Surface Skimmers (though this is the 1974 one i got cheap :p: )
Sopwith Camel vs Fokker Dr I (Osprey Duel series, good series in fact)
Moving Bases : Royal Navy maintenance carriers and MONABS
Attack of the Drones : a history of unmanned aerial combat


New Member
The Last Valley
its about the French defeat in Indochina and focuses on the Battle of Bien Dien Phu. Absolutely cracking stuff. Pretty harrowing stuff to, you really feel for the french soldiers, they thought they would win right up to the very end, the Generals on the other hand had written them off almost from the start.

Along with "Street without Joy" by Bernard Fall (later killed on Patrol with US soldiers in Vietnam) its probably one of the best books to come out of the Vietnam conflict.

The one thing that strikes you is the parallels between French and American tactics and strategy. The two wars were fought 10 years apart and with different equipment, but if you look at it, both armies used a doctrine of firepower coupled with lighting thrusts. It is a good example of the limits of the Doctrine of Firepower in insurgency warfare.

"Storm of Steel" written by a German prussian officer about his experience of the first world war. Talk about a stiff upper lip. Incredible read.

"The Jungle is neutral" The best book to come out of world war 2, also the best book on Guerrilla warfare your ever going to read.
Freddie Chapman, a totally unflappable war hero.


Super Moderator
Staff member
Verified Defense Pro
Some of my favorites are,

"Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailor", it is about a small force of American escort carriers, destroyers and destroyer escorts that ended up fighting off a much, much larger Japanese force, very good book.

"Dare Call it Treason", it is about the French army mutinies of 1917, pretty good book, it has some flaws but overall I enjoyed it.

I'll add to it later as I rummage through my book collection.


Banned Member
A good book is 'Eighth Army', by Robin Neillands. It is a detailed chronicle, on the World War 2 contribution, of the Eighth Army. I have ordered some books published by Modern Library. They are: The Last 100 Days, The Rising Sun, and Hitler's U Boat wars. All are based on aspects of the Second World War, and had been out of print, for some time, even though they are much acclaimed volumes, and have been so, in the past. 'The Gurkhas' by Edward Smith, is another great work of military literature. I have purchased a book recently, called 'Soldier', published by the publishing major, 'Dorling Kindersley'. I recommend it, because the visual content is very striking, and the book is informative, too. I anticipate their 'to be published' volume, 'battles at sea', or a name to that effect, to be published I believe, in the former half of August. I want to purchase a book on Operation Barbarossa, a volume which is much acclaimed. I had a book written by Antony Beevor, called Stalingrad, which I have donated to a library. The latter half of the book, extols the virtues of Marshal Zhukov, as a military commander. It is as interesting as the 'Eighth Army'.


New Member
The entire commander series by Tom Clancy is excellent & worth reading :

Battle Ready
Every Man A Tiger
Into The Storm
Shadow Warriors

But this book is just awesome. I dont think you'll find a more entertaining or informative account on US Special Forces, conventional troops & air support in Afghanistan :

Not A Good Day To Die, by Sean Naylor

It covers the campaign of Shakikot region, including the infamous battle atop Takur Ghar.

This book is a must read.


New Member
I want to purchase a book on Operation Barbarossa, a volume which is much acclaimed. I had a book written by Antony Beevor, called Stalingrad, which I have donated to a library. The latter half of the book, extols the virtues of Marshal Zhukov, as a military commander. It is as interesting as the 'Eighth Army'.
Dear A.Mookerjee
As your name suggests, may I go as forward as to take a guess that you are based in India, or have roots there. If so, why dont you try "Barbarossa" by Allan Clark - Natraj Publishers, Dehradun. As for Field Marshal G Zukhov, nothing beats the original "Zukhov", again also available by Natraj publishers. I have come across a rather rare copy of the original Soviet Publication which was is two parts on one of my holidays to "Jodhpur" in India in one of the dusty bylanes. Unfortunately only the first vol was available.:)


New Member
Panzer Leader by Gen Heinz Guderian, a good account of the extraordinary out of the box thinking, if you spare the blowing of his own trumpet is quite a good read. It also brings to light the curious aspect of a Signals qualified officer in the Panzer Korps influencing inter-tank and Intra-tank comn that we today take for granted when we talk about Mechanised Warfare.
But being old fashioned, I quaintly am attached to "On War" by Clautzwitz.


Super Moderator
Verified Defense Pro
Few I own:

History of Warfare (John Keegan)
How to loose a battle
The 7th Decade (based on US Nuclear policy and global proliferation)
Crossed Swords (on Pakistan Army)
Utility of Force

There are other books I own which are not directly related to military but do contain good info in terms of battles.


Super Moderator
Staff member
Just came back from a 5 day long holiday and managed to read the 2 books. I provide my ratings of these books on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest and a review on these books:

(1) Bravo Two Zero by Andy McNab

Bravo Two Zero was the call sign of an eight-man SAS patrol during the first Gulf War sent to destroy Scud launchers. While in Iraq, the team was discovered and they had to attempt to escape. Only one member, Chris Ryan was able to successfully escape. To do so he had to walk over 300 km in a period of 8 days to reach Syria. Chris Ryan, Mike Coburn and Andy McNab were captured and tortured, while the other members died in Iraq.

Quite a good read and I rate it 3 out of 5.

(2) Eight Lives Down by Major Chris Hunter

Major Chris Hunter is an Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) operator and the book mainly details his EOD operator tour in Iraq. While there he was promoted (to Maj) and became an intelligence analyst dealing with EOD threats. The book provides details of how the UK forces deal with IEDs (including the interrogation of bomb makers).

It is well written, captivating and gives us a good idea of the IED threats from a EOD point of view. I rate it 4 out of 5.

I like this book and the author's sense of humour, that is why, when compared with Bravo Two Zero, I give it a higher rating. I recognise that it is different strokes for different folks, so some readers will prefer Andy McNab's style.
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Super Moderator
Staff member
I provide my ratings of 2 more serious books on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest and some comments on these 2 books:

(1) Six Days Of War: June 1967 & the Making Of the Modern Middle East by Michael Oren

Michael Oren is a Jew but tries to put together a comprehensive and reasonably impartial history of the June 1967 Middle East War, or "Six-Day War". This book is heavy reading but is very well written.

I rate it 5 out of 5. There is already an excellent review of this book (with detailed outline notes) by Greg Goebel on the web, so I shall not duplicate it here.

(2) Defending the Lion City: The Armed Forces of Singapore by Tim Huxley and published in 2000

Last month, I finally found time to finish this book, which offers a detailed look at the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) from its origins to the year 2000. It brings up issues that are almost never discussed -- including sensitive questions of war plans with Singapore's neighbors. It details how Singapore drew on Israeli and other foreign experts to mold a technologically sophisticated and large military that is capable of striking far from the island state (see the 2007 Straits Times story on the "Mexicans" - for the role of the Israeli military advisors). It is a study of what an intelligent, determined people can do to forge an effective military in unfavorable circumstances, especially given Singapore's absence of natural resources and lack of strategic depth.

Tim Huxley chronicles the evolution of Singapore's strategy. In the early years, Singapore used the analogy of a 'poisonous shrimp' (small but indigestible by predators) to define its military strategy. The idea was that any aggressor would find that the costs of attempting to invade and occupy Singapore outweighed any conceivable benefits. By the 1990s, the emphasis it grew from a 'poisonous shrimp' to enabling the SAF to achieve a 'swift and decisive victory' over aggressors, though in official statements Singapore has never referred to the SAF's offensive strategy. This was because the 'poisonous shrimp' strategy was deficient in that it merely offered Singapore a choice of 'suicide or surrender'.

According to Tim Huxley, "the key to understanding Singapore's strategy, is that the SAF's clear capability to inflict severe damage on Malaysia (by implication creating serious political and economic repercussions for Singapore) is not intended to be used. The capability is a deterrent - a sort of regional 'doomsday machine' intended to manipulate Singapore's regional threat environment by forcing neigbouring states to treat the city state with a degree of respect and caution which might otherwise be absent."

This book has been cited unfairly by Malaysian tabloids to propose the notion that the SAF is planning to lay waste to Malaysia's Army and infrastructure in the event of war (as a justification for greater arms purchase and to encourage extreme expressions of nationalism for political purpose). This proposition by Malaysian tabloids is not a fair reflection of what is written.

Tim Huxley's research skills is first rate, given Singapore government's discretion on security matters.

According to Tim Huxley (at pages 75 & 126), Singapore established, in 1984, a Special Operations Force (SOF) (a elite counter-terrorist force) whose existence remained secret until it was publicized in 1997. In his analysis, SAF's use of operational analysis (OA) (a quantitative management technique to generate detailed plans for military responses to a wide variety of security contingencies), enabled the SOF to successfully storm a hijacked Singapore airline aircraft in 1991, killing 4 hijackers and rescuing all the passengers unharmed.

Also according to Tim Huxley (at page 131), "in 1975, the SAF purchased 63 Centurion MBTs from India and a second batch from Israel in 1993-94 bringing the total to at least 80... [and] are known as Tempests... Apparently for fear of provoking controversy with Singapore's neigbours, Mindef has never admitted that the SAF operates MBTs."

Tim Huxley’s study is the most complete review of the SAF's capabilities to date and draws heavily from government sources and press reports, providing the reader with a relatively balanced view of matters. This book also details how Singapore, through the Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA), developed a strong domestic acquisition capability, beginning with hardware sales and technology transfer arrangements made in cooperation with Israel, UK, Australia, and the US.

Many Singaporeans will tell you that this book is a must read and is listed a book of interest by the Defense Acquisition History Project. I on the other hand will rate it 4 out of 5.
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Super Moderator
Staff member
1. Singapore takes defence seriously because of its unique circumstances. Tim Huxley (Defending the Lion City: The Armed Forces of Singapore) accurately describes Singapore's lack of strategic depth and its unfavorable circumstances viz. a viz. its much bigger neighbours.

(i) In fact, the Malaysian government attempts to intervene in Singapore's sovereign affairs. According to Tim Huxley (at page 45), a state visit by the Israeli President in Nov 1986 "triggered anti-Singapore demonstrations in Malaysia and political controversy lasting several months."

(ii) He also details without prejudice the difficult diplomatic relationship between Singapore and Malaysia. A number of Malaysians have advocated the unilateral cutting off of Singapore's water supply (in violation of international law), when a dispute between Singapore and Malaysia does not go their way.

(iii) IMO bias in reporting tends to hide a real agenda. I suspect the real agenda is to deflect possible criticism of Malaysia's purchases, which in part may be driven by corruption. Commentators have stated that Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF) weapon purchases are made after consultations between the finance minister and the prime minister. Although the opinions of the military are voiced, they are frequently overridden.
External observers like Tim Huxley (2000) and Dana Dillion (1997) have noted that:

"From 1985 to 1993, Malaysia and Singapore spent roughly the same amount of money... Yet in all respects, Singapore's military is far more capable than Malaysia's armed forces... The MAF, on the other hand, still has shortfalls in operational efficiency, readiness, and sustainability."

Further, "to replace one aircraft, the A-4, RMAF has purchased: the MiG-29, the F/A-18, and the Hawk-200. Further exacerbating the problem is the low number of each aircraft purchased, which makes buying spare parts and services relatively more expensive and retention of an adequate number of qualified crews considerably more difficult."

Finally, we must remember the role of the MAF: "their mission is not only to defend the country but also to protect the special status of the ethnic Malay majority from infringement by the minority non-Malay citizens."
(iv) IMHO, the bias in reporting is used as a justification for greater arms purchase by the MAF. This has the unfortunate effect of encouraging extreme expressions of nationalism for Malaysia's ruling coalition's political purposes.

2. Despite my 4 out of 5 rating, I disagree with 2 points made by Tim Huxley:

(i) In relation to his discussion on the Singapore army, he discusses various initiatives the Army 2000 (a planning blueprint adopted in 1988), he only mentions the battalion proficiency test (BTEC) in passing. IMHO, it is this focus on testing of SAF's capabilities that has led to Singapore's investment in technology. Testing also has a positive effect on the will to fight (as the solider must believe he can win). He lacks a insider's view of the average Singaporeans' depth of commitment to total defence. My criticism of the author on this point is not entirely fair as he is not an insider.

(ii) He believes that Singapore may intervene in Malaysia if there is again another incident of wide spread communal violence in Malaysia leading to a water cut off. I believe the Singapore government and/or its citizens do not have the political will or a desire to intervene in communal matters in Malaysia. IMHO, Singapore will only react to acts of war, such as, a cut-off in the water supply (from Johor) or bombs going off in Singapore.
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New Member
I have read Defending the Lion City and honestly, although the book does indicate that Singapore does not intend to inflict damage to Malaysia, the fact remains that Singapore is able to.

I am not Malaysian but i do not think it is unfair for the Malaysian tabloids to paint a worrisome picture as it is factually correct to say that Singapore does have the clear capability to inflict severe damage to Malaysia.

As an aside, why would anyone not be worried if they knew their country may be potentially threatened by stronger powers?


Super Moderator
Staff member
I am not Malaysian but i do not think it is unfair for the Malaysian tabloids to paint a worrisome picture as it is factually correct to say that Singapore does have the clear capability to inflict severe damage to Malaysia.

As an aside, why would anyone not be worried if they knew their country may be potentially threatened by stronger powers?
Although, I have a different point of view from you, I am grateful for your response. That way, at least I know you have read and can have a discussion on why I feel the tabloids are unfair.

1. I feel that Tim Huxley's book Defending the Lion City: The Armed Forces of Singapore has been cited unfairly by Malaysian tabloids to propose the notion that the SAF is planning to lay waste to Malaysia's Army and infrastructure in the event of war, as their response is based on putting words in his mouth that he did not say.

2. I enclose a sample quote of a tabloid article in relation to Tim Huxley's book. It is true that at page 58, he did contemplate a scenario for war with Malaysia. However, the text quoted below in italics are not Tim Huxley's words but a dramatization:

"It's 4 am..." (starting from)
"By noon, Johoreans find themselves under Singapore military rule" (ending with).​

Defending the Lion city
Tabloid Malay Mail report on Tim Huxley's book following Malaysian ministers' rejection of author's tipping easy victory for Singapore in a war.
Jan 14, 2003

Since the 1980s, Huxley wrote, the military balance moved decisively in the favour of Singapore, making an offensive strategy - the so-called pre-emptive strike - a realistic option for the island republic. By the 1990s, Singapore's Armed Forces (SAF) quantative and qualitative strength over the Malaysia Armed Forces (MAF) became well-entrenched. In 2000, the potential mobilised strength of the SAF stood at 350,000 personnel. By comparison, the MAF totalled only about 145,000 personnel, although 105,000 of these were regulars.

Singapore's army formations, most importantly, the three combined arms divisions - each with integral armour and artillery, and a rapid deployment division - are coherent and highly offensively-oriented, in contrast to their Malaysian equivalents, which during the 1990s remained dispersed thinly throughout the peninsular and were only beginning to develop combined arms capabilities.

Huxley (in "Defending the Lion City") said the SAF's crucial strength lies in its armoured force and air force. The Singapore Army operates some 120 upgraded Centurion main battle tanks and some 350 AMX-13SMI light tanks. It's air force has more combat aircraft than Malaysia and Indonesia combined. Together with tanker and airborne early warning aircraft, the Singaporean combat aircraft could wreck havoc in a conflict.

Huxley stated that the SAF with it highly educated soldiers, high-techology equipment and synergistic relations among the three services yielded important military advantages over Malaysia or any other potential adversaries. He said the economic recession in Malaysia in 1986-1987 and 1997-1998 was an obstacle for its armed forces modernisation and re-equipment.

He said the plans to build major bases in Johor, one each in Gemas and Mersing, would probably strengthen the defences in the south. What if war broke out between Malaysia and Singapore: Bombs away!

[Following scenario is quoted from Pg 58, A Scenario of War with Malaysia.]

IT'S 4am.

The early morning calm is suddenly shattered by the deafening screams of low-flying jets.

Seconds later, Kuantan air base is rocked by multiple explosions, followed by "secondaries" as Malaysia's air assets in aircraft shelters and revetments are obliterated.

Klaxons blaring, pilots are scrambled to whichever aircraft that are still air-worthy, but it's useless. The runways had been cratered. In the ensuing confusion, reports start streaming in. It seems that this is not an isolated case. Butterworth checks in and reports that its entire complement of F/A-18D Hornets are now smoking, twisted hulks out on the tarmac. And the entire Third Division which has overall command over Johor and Malacca had also been annihilated. The National Power Grid had not been spared, plunging the entire country in darkness, adding to the chaos and confusion. Reports also indicated that the Ministry of Defence building in Jalan Padang Tembak, Kuala Lumpur, had been hit by at least six GBU-31 1,000-pound JDAMs (Joint Direct Attack Munitions).

Even the KLCC had been struck with such ferocity that only the Maxis Tower was left standing. On Bukit Nanas, only a blackened stump is left of what used to be the Kuala Lumpur Tower.

Down in Johor and Malacca, the situation is much worse. A torrent of armoured vehicles, including tanks, are hogging all the roads linking Johor Baru to Muar and Kota Tinggi, disgorging armed soldiers who took over all the towns. Senai airport, captured in a pre-dawn attack was being used by the helicopters and planes taking part in the on-going offensive.

On the North-South Expressway, main battle tanks and armoured fighting vehicles together with towed artillery with fighter jets and attack helicopters providing close support were going north, destination unknown.

Reports of troops landing from helicopters were coming in from all over Johor, from Mersing to Muar. By noon, Johoreans find themselves under Singapore military rule.

If you think the scenario described above are wild imaginings of The Malay Mail writers, think again.

The scenario, in less graphic form, was written by a British scholar, Tim Huxley, in his book Defending the Lion City: The Armed Forces of Singapore.

It was published in 2000 as part of a series which examine the military capabilities of Asian countries by Australian publishing company Allen & Urwin. Huxley's book, which is available at local bookstores, offers a fascinating look at a little-known but effective military organisation.

Among others, it brought up issues that were almost never discussed - including sensitive questions of war plans with Singapore's neighbours. Drawing on Israeli and other foreign experts and using only their country's limited resources, the Singaporeans have moulded a technologically sophisticated and large military that is capable of striking far from the island State.

Given the country's absence of natural resources and lack of strategic depth, said Huxley, it's a remarkable achievement. He said while the Singapore military has not yet been tested in real combat, few observers doubt its professional ability.

In the second chapter of his book, Huxley points out that Malaysia was the most likely adversary to Singapore, with Indonesia second. He gave a detailed picture of how the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) capabilities were tailored to meet such adversaries. Huxley wrote: "While it is clear that the SAF is sufficiently flexible in terms of its organisation, equipment and doctrines to be useful in wide national security contingencies, its capabilities have been refined with specific contingencies in mind - above all, the possibility of war with or in Malaysia."

Singapore defence planners have also planned a war with or in Indonesia.

Huxley said such plans have been played in SAF staff college exercises since the 1960s. He said that from the Singapore viewpoint, a war with Malaysia could be triggered due to communal conflict in Malaysia which resulted in the disruption of water supply from Johor.

Singapore, according to Huxley, have not dropped plans for a pre-emptive strike. Huxley further states: "To make intervention possible, the SAF would need to disable the Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF) with a brutal and fearless pre-emptive offensive or at least retain such capability as to execute such an attack after absorbing an initial (Malaysian) onslaught. "Probably in conjunction with electronic attacks on the MAF's communication and sensors (such as radars), the SAF would first attempt to establish air superiority by devastating the Malaysian air force - in the first few hours of any conflict - before mounting further air strikes against other military targets.

"Singapore's army would then seize the initiative on the ground with commandos - infiltrated by air and sea - and helimobile Guards unit securing the Malaysian side of the Causeway in Johor Baru and the Second Link bridge in Gelang Patah.

"Combined armed forces, most importantly, armoured battle groups equipped with tanks and other armoured fighting vehicles, would then cross into Johor and rapidly advance into the Peninsula." They would be supported by Guards battalions and transport helicopters, strike aircraft and attack helicopters.

The Singaporean Navy will also play a vital role by landing troops on Johor's coast while keeping the sea-lanes around the island from any blockage by the Malaysian navy.
3. The above quotation and its selective application by Malaysian tabloids is not a fair reflection of what is written. This leads to Malaysian blogs that attack the analysis in the book without reading it (because of the bias in reporting).
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Super Moderator
Staff member
Since "Defending the Lion City: The Armed Forces of Singapore" was written by Tim Huxley in 2000, informed observers and Singaporeans have since made some valid criticisms of the limitation of the SAF. I have included their comments here as a counterpoint on the above book review and its related comments.

Save for some minor factual errors (made by informed observers), I too agree with some aspects of the weakness observed. I set out 2 examples, below:
1. Tim Huxley in "Singapore And The Revolution In Military Affairs: An Outsider’s Perspective" is critical of the SAF's focus on technology without a sufficiently addressing the SAF's current organisational and doctrinal weaknesses. This includes:
[a] the need for even greater doctrinal and organisational innovations than Mindef's current incremental approach (such as a larger and more empowered NCO corps); and
other systems related matters detailed therein.

2. Sean P. Walsh in "The Roar of the Lion City Ethnicity, Gender, and Culture in the Singapore Armed Forces" is critical of the SAF as follows:
[a] the classification of officers as between scholars and farmers (i.e. non-scholars);
the early mandatory retirement age (leading to the promotion of scholars generals into key positions too early);
[c] the focus on safety in training such that realism and creativity are sacrificed; and
[d] the need to end the quota system that limits certain segments of its population’s involvement in sensitive areas such as intelligence and signal units.
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