The only books in that vein I know are "The Art Of War" by Sun Tzu and Clausewitz' "Vom Kriege". I suspect german book shops don't tend to stock as many books on war as some other countries (I remember seeing the "military" section of a bookstore for the first time in London).
Anyway, I would be interested in more detailed stuff, like how to use tanks, planes and so on. Maybe analysis of historical battles would be good, too.
I guess it won't help with a startup, but for some reason I have wondered about this (maybe for strategy game development...).
They "served" the French for a while, as they might serve the US in Iraq... for a while that is. But remember that just when the French thought they'd suppressed Algerian resistance, it erupted violently and the result was a long and extremely bloody civil war.
Or just go there and follow Amazon "related" links.
Jones is of the "very broad" school of military history. It can be a little bit dry, but it certainly tries to be comprehensive: It's like Civilization in that it starts with phalanx and then moves slowly forward through the history of strategy and tactics.
You might like the works of John Keegan, another famous military historian who takes a general approach. He's got a History of Warfare that's like a lighter-weight version of Jones -- I might recommend starting with that, actually. His one-volume histories of WWI and WWII are probably decent.
Keegan is British, so it wouldn't surprise me if his histories were heavy on the Western front. If you want the actual history of WWII you need a history that's more about the Eastern Front, which is pretty much where the war in Europe was actually decided. Unfortunately, the history on that subject lags decades behind, because the surviving Germans didn't exactly want to dwell on it and the Soviets weren't exactly forthcoming. (Many of the key Soviet figures either got disappeared by Stalin or lived under the constant fear of being disappeared by Stalin.) I'm not sure what the best current general history of the Eastern Front is, but I do know that the big Western expert on the subject is David Glantz, who has spent the last twenty years digging through formerly-sealed Soviet records of enormous battles that were covered up for years. I'd probably start with:
because I don't know any better and it comes up first on Amazon.
If you want something written by a gamer try the works of James Dunnigan, founder of SPI and author of a whole pile of famous simulation board games. I read most of his Dirty Little Secrets of World War II and it was interesting. A much breezier style than the heavy-duty military historians. And he's got books that cover contemporary military stuff as well as history.
Nobody should read about war at the 10,000 foot level without also reading about what it's actually like on the ground. Obviously, the great modern literary works on the subject are Slaughterhouse Five and, even more so, Catch-22. In the realm of nonfiction, Fussell's Wartime was interesting, but it led me to Eugene Sledge's With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa, which is even better: a very good book by a guy from the front lines in the Pacific who is not shy about telling you exactly what went on. Comes with an endorsement by PG! (from the last time I mentioned it on HN.)Don't read it over lunch if you're squeamish.
(I haven't actually read some of these, but my dad is a military boardgamer and military history buff. He's got several bookshelves packed with books like these.)
The first book I checked to make sure was included in this tread was "Supplying War". There are many standard texts on conflict, but that one somehow misses many lists. I think the examination of conflicts from the point of view of logistics serves two very good purposes: it's an essential education in making sure a force is supplied and it's a good perspective of looking at a conflict as a long term temporal and spacial endeavor.
"Command in War" is also quite good, and I have not yet read "Transformation in War".
Don't let the word "Infantry" in the title fool you. It is an engrossing account on how to use armed forces to your advantage. He supposedly was working on "The Tank in Attack", but never made it that far. A good substitute is The Rommel Papers, which was published posthumously by his family.
The Unfettered Mind (Japanese: 不動智神妙録 Fudōchi Shinmyōroku) is a three-part treatise on Buddhist philosophy and martial arts written by Takuan Soho, a Japanese monk of the Rinzai sect. The title translates roughly to "The Mysterious Records of Immovable Wisdom". The treatise was written as correspondence to Yagyū Munenori, inheritor to the Yagyū Shinkage-ryū school of swordsmanship. Written for the laity, the book makes little use of Buddhist terminology, but instead focuses on describing situations followed by an interpretation. Its contents make an effort to apply Zen Buddhism to martial arts.
If you want to understand the context behind all other books on military strategy written since Clausewitz (any book written in the last hundred years), you must read Clausewitz. If you want to understand why the US Army was so dead set on failing to anticipate the next war and continued to train for symmetric war until very recently, you must read Clausewitz. If you want to understand why the new Army and Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual written by General Petraeus, Lt General Amos, and Lt Colonel Nagl is so celebrated, you must read Clausewitz.
You should also read Petraeus et al's Counterinsurgency Field Manual. The difference in tone and scope is staggering. If you want to understand military strategy going forward, you must understand Petraeus's book. I assure you, it is on the nightstand of the President and every military officer (and not because it says that on the cover, but because I'm one of them).
If you are running a startup, read the Petraeus book as though you are the insurgent. If you are at MSFT or Google, read it as though you are in the US Army.
You might also want to read Nagl's book: "How to Eat Soup with a Knife." (who knows how that period/quotation thing works...)
Anyways, he covers insurgencies fought unsuccessfully by Americans and successfully by the British, and why they succeeded and failed. Nagl doesn't come out and say the reasons are X, Y, Z. It's more here are important events A, B, C and here are important structural and cultural facts about the militaries that can help explain them.
Another book to read is "A Savage War of Peace." It describes the Algerian insurgency during French rule. While Petraeus based his strategy in Iraq on the French's strategy, it is also relevant due to the strong similarity between what happened with the French populace and what is happening with our own.
A lot of the suggestions here seem to follow the philosophical advice from generals meme, like the people who read Sun Tzu to learn how to better manage their sales team and etc.
The best book I know of in the "detailed stuff, like how to use tanks, planes and so on" area is James F. Dunigan's "How to Make War". It's a little cold-war oriented but still pretty applicable, and the first chapter is helpfully titled "How to Become an Effective Armchair General". Given that wars are usually massive economic and logistical operations, it has a lot of charts and tables to that effect, showing the number of shots per soldier killed over the centuries, tonnage of explosives per plane, etc.
Just by glancing over the charts you can see the basic history of military activity -- the Civil War being the first "modern" war in terms of slaughter, economic mobolization, and etc; then a period of regression to small wars, before WWI and so on.
As far as "how to use tanks" and so on, that is often considered tactics not strategy. There are books written on that stuff, however; how many people should be in a small platoon and how they should move, leapfrogging each other so one moves while the other keeps the enemy ducking; how two tanks can use their light machine guns to clear each other's close-in areas that they can't see or shoot at themselves; the strategy of having a tank attached to a platoon of infantry so they work together; etc.
But I don't know of one single book that collects all that. If I had to find them I would probably look at the some of the publications of the Army War College, and I would go to a gun show and find that guy who is always there with a lot of field manual publications, and ask him.
I've been waiting years for someone to ask this question :)
Wishlited this last night on amazon:
Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the Rise to Western Power by Victor Davis Hanson
Have read these and enjoyed these:
General Warfare theory:
History of Warfare by Keegan
Intelligence and War by Keegan
"Ghost Wars" by Steve Coll. For a really enjoyable experience read "The Great Game" by Hopkirk first.
The Civil War deserves it's own category. Watch the PBS dvds, actually buy them. If you're hungry for more dig into "The Civil War" by Shelby Foote is hefty but it's satisfying.
1776 is a classic.
"Blind mans bluff" is a great book about submarine warfare.
For more current stuff Robert Kagan is probably the most informed pundit on war and military strategy.
"The Last Lion" books 1 and 2 are about Churchill and they involve lots of military strategy. You should also check out "The gathering storm + the other six books Churchill wrote on WWII.
Man I could go on forever. I have "Panzer General" and "Caesar's Conquest of Gaul" on my nightstand...
PS: Once you're well versed you'll hear people referring to Clauswitz a lot. When you're sick of hearing his name and you want more than the wikipedia entry go read "On War." Art of War goes w/o saying as well...
Game theorists might define a strategy as an approach to optimal decision-making while you are surrounded by other actors whose actions interact with yours. Chess strategies are a good example.
The author of Certain to Win, Chet Richards, takes a different approach. He defines strategy as "a scheme for creating and managing plans." It is a means to generate, act upon, and discard plans. Strategy is how you "plan to plan." OODA loops are a good example of this approach.
I don't agree with the guy's politics, but his view on the melding of technology and military history is pretty interesting.
"My major conclusion? Simply that it's not enough to acquire first-class technology. You also need the right organizational structure, training, and leadership to take advantage of that technology. Today, the U.S. is the undisputed leader in high-tech hardware, but our government bureaucracy is still designed to fight mirror-image adversaries from the Industrial Age--not nimble, decentralized foes like Al Qaeda." -- Max Boot
I'm reading The 33 Strategies of War by Robert Greene now and am enjoying it, I have also previously read the 48 Laws of Power by him which is written in a similar fashion. Very extensive and uses a lot of historical examples from both military and other fields such as politics and business.
The best I've read wasn't a strategy book per se.
1776 - http://www.amazon.com/1776-David-McCullough/dp/0743226712 by David McCullough was full of useful insights on General George Washington and how he used his smarts to defeat the enemy. He wasn't a great strategist, but very pragmatic (like counting the number of shoes on the feet of his “army’ to asses their battle readiness) and willing to take risks. It book was also entertaining as Hell.
A quick read is Wikipedia's summary of Miyamoto Musashi's "Book of Five Rings" - it's about Japanese swordsmanship in the early 1600's in a variety of situations: Full-on combat, a duel, outnumbered, with high/low ground, etc. It's strategic more than tactical, and if you like Sun Tzu you might dig it.
The story of his life, "Musashi," is one of my favorite books of all time and has good strategic and philosophical discussion mixed in with some really riveting action and social commentary. Musashi had a lot of potential at a young age, but was extremely undisciplined and constantly had it out with the law, society, and people whose motivations he couldn't understand. The book chronicles him becoming the greatest swordsman in Japanese history. An incredible read, especially for anyone who was bright at young age but questioned a hell of a lot of society's rules.
Uhm, honestly, I consider that comment really inappropriate. Someone asks about books and you tell him that he must be a Nazi. Note for future reference in dealing with Germans: jokes where you call them a Nazi == not funny.