The list author says: "There is no real rhyme or reason to this list. It's just a compedium of the best books I've read each year. I choose the "winner" based on how many people I recommend it to (i.e. "You REALLY need to read this right now!")."
"Book of the Year -- 2013 (Winner) On the surface, Watership Down is just a book. But dig deeper and you’ll find a thinly-veiled memoir about combat in World War 2, an homage to the ancient Aeneid, and a cheeky anthropological study of rabbit culture and mythology. It’s definitely not for children: the book is unabashedly brutal, with a realistic ending that brought tears to this reader’s eyes."
"Book of the Year -- 2013 (Runner Up) Fredericksburg’s place in the Civil War timeline – between McClellan’s resignation and the Emancipation Proclamation – leaves it as the battle that marks when the war fundamentally changed. Rable discusses the context of the battle without skimping over the actual details of the fighting. One of the best biographies of a single battle I have ever read."
"Book of the Year -- 2012 Rajiv Chandrasekaran examines why our 2009-2012 surge into Afghanistan ultimately failed. Spoiler alert: the various branches of the US government / military were more concerned about turf wars and bureaucracy than ultimate victory. The Marine Corps comes in for some heavy criticism, although most of it is warranted. Definitely the best after-action I've read."
"Book of the Year -- 2011 C.J. Chivers has done an excellent series of articles for the NY Times on arms and ammunition in modern conflicts. This book is basically a biography of the AK-47, as well as a history on the development of the modern automatic weapon. I'd recommend watching the movie "Lords of War" first, since it sets up many of the myths on the AK that Chivers deconstructs."
"Book of the Year -- 2010 (Winner) "Dogs of War" is basically a manual disguised as a novel on how to conduct a mercenary-backed coup against an unstable Third World regime. There's a reason why the protagonist spends almost the whole book shuttling between banks and businesses, opening multiple 'front companies' to purchase his illegal arms and ammunition. I took VERY copious notes."
"Book of the Year -- 2010 (Runner Up) Like a lot of Michener books, Caravans is basically a series of travel vignettes strung together with a shred of a plot. Michener regularly visited Afghanistan in the years after World War II (the book was written in 1963). An excellent primer about what Afghanistan is as a country, I highly recommend it to anyone planning to deploy or "visit" there."
"Book of the Year -- 2010 (Runner Up) Retribution, a history of the last year of the Pacific War, is a sequel to Hastings' 2004 book Armageddon on the end of the war in Europe. Hastings' thesis - that the most savage killing occurred in the final months - is borne out as he attempts to examine the Pacific War from as many angles as possible, including the often-neglected Chinese and Russian views."
"Book of the Year -- 2009 David Kilcullen – America’s leading counterinsurgency expert –sums up Al Qaeda’s strategy in the War on Terror: let’s you and him fight. Neither of America’s two biggest foes, the Iraqi Sunnis/Shia or the Taliban, attacked the US on 9/11. Yet by basing themselves in Iraq and Afghanistan, Al Qaeda was able to draw us into fights with proxy groups."
"Book of the Year -- 2008 (Winner) Though he’s not a professional analyst, soldier, or historian, Brecher has an informal and hilarious lecturing style as he covers some of the world’s worst conflicts. Not exactly research-quality, but a great starting point. Think of it as a hitchhiker’s guide to war. For the thrifty, all his columns can be read online at: http://exiledonline.com/cat/war-nerd/"
"Book of the Year -- 2008 (Runner Up) This book is definitely a must-read for anyone in the military, because it’s all about the nature of command. What makes a leader good or bad, how can you tell the difference, and what should you do if you find yourself under such a leader. It really helped me understand the thought process of my commanding officer (A De Vriess, naturally)."
"Book of the Year -- 2007 (Runner Up) This is a proxy for the entire History of the Universe/Modern World series. It took Gonick two decades to do the whole thing, which goes from the Big Bang to the Iraq War. Gonick goes out of his way to cover non-western cultures, and the book is slightly revisionist. Though the last book feels a bit rushed, I only wish he could have done more."
"Book of the Year -- 2006 (Winner) "Shattered Sword" is more than just one of the best books about the Battle of Midway. It is an almost surgical dissection of a military catastrophe on all levels, from the admirals in charge to the lowliest seamen. If you know the source material, the lessons of "Shattered Sword" can be applied to almost any other military operation, land or sea."
"Book of the Year -- 2004 (Runner Up) Even though this book didn't win for 2004, it's caused me no end of trouble. First, when I was at Bush-Cheney '04 I used to regularly read some of the more graphically violent passages out loud to stunned coworkers. Then of course two years later I joined the Marine Corps, based largely on this book..."
"Book of the Year -- 2003 I originally read this book for a Middle East class in college, but re-read it before I deployed to Iraq. A great look at both the social dynamics of rural Iraq as well as the status of women in the old Arab world. It isn't quite as useful for Afghanistan unless you have absolutely no frame of reference for understanding rural life in the Middle East."