Non fiction war books provide a combination of history and emotion to offer a unique perspective on some of the most tumultuous periods of all time. These books may not be for the faint of heart, but they aren’t intended to be. They offer insight into our most troubling times, as well as our greatest triumphs.
Read on to learn 5 essential non-fiction books that chronicle difficult periods in history so that we can learn from them. The people who survived these times transcribed their thoughts so that we could learn from them and even outgrow them too.
Hiroshima by John Hersey
John Hersey wrote this book as a result of his war correspondence in the Pacific. He published Hiroshima as a series of issues that chronicled the fates of 6 survivors of the bombing of the city. The New Yorker dedicated an issue to run the work in its entirety. Since then, the book-form of Hershey’s portrayal of the consequences of victory in the Pacific remains essential reading.
Band of Brothers by Stephen E. Ambrose
Band of Brothers became a popular miniseries in 2001. However, the book remains an essential account of wartime comradery and procedure. It chronicles the actions of the parachute infantry company, the 101s Airborne Division, during their campaign in WWII. The book depends on the interviews of the real veteran survivors to chronicle their bond, as well as their mission.
The Guns of August by Barbara W. Tuchman
The Guns of August chronicles the first month of WWI. It focuses on how the conflict incited, grew, and became a contest of the great powers in the world for military dominance. Anyone curious about the strategies, events, plans, and consequences of the first incidents of the great war should check out Tuchman’s Pulitzer-Prize winning novel.
Churchill, Hitler and the Unnecessary War: How Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost the World by Patrick J. Buchanan
Churchill, Hitler and the Unnecessary War may have a mouthful of a subtitle. However, it remains a modern example of how documentation and insight can create new views of old history. Focusing on Churchill’s reputation in the West, Buchanan delves deep into the motivations behind the British Empire’s great war. This also includes how Churchill impacted those motivations.
Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA by Tim Weiner
Legacy of Ashes may not focus on one war in particular, but it instead focuses on the CIA, created out of WWII and extensively used throughout the Cold War to today. Archives, interviews, and the words of ten former Central Intelligence Agency directors bolster Weiner’s book. This may not be a balanced position on the necessity of such an organization – it’s a complete criticism. But that may prove even more interesting to read.
The Takeaway for History Buffs
Non fiction war books combine history with interviews, eyewitness accounts, and the author’s intuition. They may not be 100% true, but they remain valuable resources that offer insight into the causes of our wars and the motivation behind the most conflicted periods in human history.