i’m an insatiable reader, especially on military subjects. i agree with my fellow Marines on Seven Pillars and the Small Wars Manual (except that, from what i have been told, mules are still a viable logistics tool) and Gates Of Fire. however, there are others that should have wider attention. here’s my addendum to the required reading list, emphasizing middle eastern and central asian topics:
Bugles And A Tiger; John Masters. this should be required reading for lieutenants, in fact it ought to be subtitled, “the joy of being a lieutenant.” masters (later a well-known novelist) served in a gurkha regiment in the years just preceding WWII. in addition to exceptional writing, it contains a valuable description of fighting on the frontiers of what are now afghanistan and pakistan.
The Story Of The Malakand Field Force; Winston Churchill. another the-more-things-change-the-more-they-stay-the-same description of combat on the “northwest frontier.” dated yet timely. unequalled prose from an eyewitness and participant.
The Story Of The Arab Legion; John Bagot Glubb. A FORGOTTEN CLASSIC. few Marines i have met have ever heard of this book, much less read it. also beautifully written, it is almost an instruction manual on how to raise, train and lead Arab forces; to match their particular (and not inconsiderable) martial traits to the ways and means of modern war.
The War Of The Running Dogs; Noel Barber. one of the more popular and comprehensive accounts of the Malayan Emergency (1948-1960). the theme is how the British turned a losing counterinsurgency in malaya into a resounding victory. parallels with iraq are not exact, but the central lessons stand out: the primacy of the civil power over the military in a counterinsurgency; the need to raise, train and employ competent local forces; the importance of achieving an indigenous political solution to isolate the insurgents; the particular role of what was called “psychological warfare” then but is better called “information operations” today.
The Art Of The Rifle; Jeff Cooper. this is required reading before you go to the range. written by an acknowledged master of the art, it describes the elements of practical rifle marksmanship in simple terms and photos. cooper eschews mechanical complexity and technology in favor of simplicity and human skill, and presents the rifle as the ultimate precision-guided weapon.