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Military Equipment, Supplies & Gifts

Books about the Army

Books related to the Army and being in the Army.

US Army Survival Manual: FM 21-76
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U.S. Army Ranger Handbook SH 21-76 (April 2000)
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Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War
Journalist Mark Bowden delivers a strikingly detailed account of the 1993 nightmare operation in Mogadishu that left 18 American soldiers dead and many more wounded. This early foreign-policy disaster for the Clinton administration led to the resignation of Secretary of Defense Les Aspin and a total troop withdrawal from Somalia. Bowden does not spend much time considering the context; instead he provides a moment-by-moment chronicle of what happened in the air and on the ground. His gritty narrative tells of how Rangers and elite Delta Force troops embarked on a mission to capture a pair of high-ranking deputies to warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid only to find themselves surrounded in a hostile African city. Their high-tech MH-60 Black Hawk helicopters had been shot down and a number of other miscues left them trapped through the night. Bowden describes Mogadishu as a place of Mad Max-like anarchy--implying strongly that there was never any peace for the supposed peacekeepers to keep. He makes full use of the defense bureaucracy's extensive paper trail--which includes official reports, investigations, and even radio transcripts--to describe the combat with great accuracy, right down to the actual dialogue. He supplements this with hundreds of his own interviews, turning Black Hawk Down into a completely authentic nonfiction novel, a lively page-turner that will make readers feel like they're standing beside the embattled troops. This will quickly be realized as a modern military classic. --John J. Miller
American Soldier
As Commander in Chief of the United States Central Command from July 2000 through July 2003, Tommy Franks led the American and Coalition forces to victory in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Unsurprisingly, the portions of American Soldier covering these wars are the most interesting because they combine military maneuvers, political wrangling, and lots of action and commentary. This does not mean, however, that the rest of his autobiography is dull. General Franks's writing is clear and engaging and his insider's perspective is informative and interesting, particularly when he explains how the military moved into the 21st century by emphasizing speed, agility, and better cooperation among the various branches--a significant shift from the first Persian Gulf war just a decade earlier.

In addition to his years as a war general, his memoir also covers his childhood, his early years in the Army, his tours of Vietnam, and how he contemplated retirement before being called up as commander of Central Command, "the most diverse, strategically vital—and unstable—region of the planet." Ever the diplomat, General Franks offers insights, but little criticism of individuals. Other than expressing admiration for his own staff and for President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in particular, he is tight-lipped about any conflict within the administration that may have occurred regarding policy issues. (The one exception is counterterrorism specialist Richard Clarke. "I never received a single operational recommendation, or a single page of actionable intelligence, from Richard Clarke," he writes). He also writes that he was surprised by the absence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and that no WMDs were used against American troops. Still, the invasion of Iraq was justified in his eyes: "While we may not have found actual WMD stockpiles, what the Coalition discovered was the equivalent of a disassembled pistol, lying on a table beside neatly arranged trays of bullets." American Soldier is a compelling look at the war on terrorism from one who served on the frontlines as both a warrior and a diplomat. --Shawn Carkonen

Army Officer's Guide (Army Officer's Guide)
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U.S. Army Map Reading and Land Navigation Handbook
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Unknown Armies (2nd Edition)
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The Hunt for Bin Laden
The first wave of U.S. Army Special Forces arrived in Afghanistan in mid-October, 2001; a few months later, they had routed the Taliban and taken control of the country. In fact, writes Robin Moore, "fewer than 100 American soldiers were on the ground when Kabul fell." The Hunt for Bin Laden is both a celebration of the Special Forces, "the most fearsome fighting unit the world has ever known," and a detailed account of how just a few hundred Green Berets, working alongside the Northern Alliance, were able to overcome nearly 100,000 entrenched al-Qaida and Taliban members and take control of Afghanistan in such a short time. Though Special Forces had participated in all of the small conflicts since World War II, the war in Afghanistan was the first time they were in charge of an entire operation. For these gung-ho soldiers, it was the moment they had been waiting for.

From the beginning, the operation was a blend of cutting-edge and 19th-century weaponry. The Northern Alliance soldiers, though brave and determined, were often outfitted with only rusted rifles and worn-out boots. In one particularly fascinating scene, Moore writes of the Northern Alliance cavalry leading a charge on horseback while American fighter jets roared overhead dropping laser-guided missiles with pinpoint accuracy on Taliban forces. The author of the military classic The Green Berets, Moore knows his subject intimately and his access to the troops on the ground is impressive. This makes the book incredibly detailed, but unquestionably subjective, so those interested in a political overview or an objective look at the policy behind the operation should look elsewhere. This is strictly a heroic portrayal of a military victory and the difficult search for Osama bin Laden, and at times Moore's writing sounds like copy out of Soldier of Fortune magazine. This bombast may not appeal to all readers, but his deep knowledge of Special Forces and his inside information makes this book a must read for those interested not only in this particular conflict but in how guerilla and unconventional warfare is executed. --Shawn Carkonen

The U.S. Army Leadership Field Manual
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Delta Force : The Army's Elite Counterterrorist Unit
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Government Issue: U.S. Army European Theater of Operations Collector Guide
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The German Army In World War I: 1917-1918 (Men-at-Arms Series)
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Boots on the Ground: A Month with the 82nd Airborne in the Battle for Iraq
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Brothers In Arms : The Epic Story of the 761St Tank Battalion, WWII's Forgotten Heroes
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U.S. Army Intelligence and Interrogation Handbook : The Official Guide on Prisoner Interrogation (U.S. Army)
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The Army and Vietnam
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U.S. Army Patches: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Cloth Unit Insignia
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U.S. Special Forces: A Guide to America's Special Operations Units-The World's Most Elite Fighting Force
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Special Forces: A Guided Tour of U.S. Army Special Forces
The seventh in a series of books by Tom Clancy offering in-depth "tours" of the U.S. military, Special Forces surveys the soldiers who "are perhaps America's most professional and capable warriors." Who are they? They are the men--and only men, for women are not allowed to become SF soldiers--who are "specially selected, specially trained, specially equipped, and given special missions and support." The Army Special Forces--known to much of the public as Green Berets--are often the first troops on the scene in a crisis. They're also incredibly versatile: "If you're looking for a Sylvester Stallone or Arnold Schwarzenegger, don't expect to find them in today's Army Special Forces." That's because specialized missions--involving anything from psychological operations meant to undermine enemy morale to guerilla warfare in remote jungles--require flexibility. "Specialized missions (paradoxically) require a broad range of general capabilities and skills," which means SF soldiers, "while physically fit, tend to be more balanced (like triathletes) than specialized (like marathoners and weightlifters)."

Clancy and his coauthor, John Gresham, describe how SF soldiers are recruited, trained, and assigned. There are plenty of interesting notes about SF culture: They don't especially like being called "Green Berets," for instance, even though most units carry a copy of the John Wayne movie The Green Berets in their traveling video libraries. They are typically in their 30s, divorced and remarried, intelligent, interested in the news, and able to speak more than one language. There are also lots of details on weaponry, chronicles of training missions, and plenty of maps and pictures. The book ends with a fictionalized account of an SF mission in 2005 and 2006.

Special Forces is replete with Clancy's tough-guy prose: "The overall media presentation of the Army Special Forces has generally been one of contrived crap." And the book is essentially a celebration of a premier fighting force, rather than a critical treatment of it. But this is not necessarily a weakness. Special Forces will appeal to anybody interested in the modern military, and it may bring civilians closer than they'll ever come to these important troops. --John J. Miller

The Future of the Army Profession, Revised and Expanded Second Edition
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Gone Native : An NCO's Story
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Ranger Handbook
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U.S. Army Heraldic Crests: A Complete Illustrated History of Authorized Distinctive Unit Insignia
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The Army
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Army Basic Training: Be Smart, Be Ready
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American Civil War Union Army (History of Uniforms)
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Hitler's Army: Soldiers, Nazis, and War in the Third Reich
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The Future of the Army Profession
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The British Army in World War I: The Eastern Fronts (Men-at-Arms)
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Rifles of the U.S. Army, 1861-1906
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The SAS Self-Defense Handbook: A Complete Guide to Unarmed Combat Techniques
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U.S. Army Counterintelligence Handbook
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Ranger Handbook
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US Army Ranger 1983-2002: Sua Sponte - Of Their Own Accord (Warrior, Vol.65
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