An Army at Dawn- The War in North Africa, 1942–1943

Rick Atkinson (2002)

“Atkinson examines the under-appreciated North Africa campaign, which taught an inexperienced U.S. Army lessons it needed to triumph and become the foundation for American global hegemony. This book’s themes are essential to understanding the European campaign.”

 The Last Convertible

 Anton Myrer (1978)

“Myrer left Harvard in 1942 to join the Marines, fighting on Guam and in the Marianas. His novel Once an Eagle is much beloved by the army; the less treacly Convertible follows five Harvard men and their Packard Super Eight, providing insights into all the theaters of the war and the men and the women who fought it.”

 Company Commander

 Charles B. MacDonald (1947)

“World War II was a company commander’s war. Tis work remains the best American memoir of that conflict from that point of view. MacDonald was 21 and a captain when given command of a rife company in September 1944 He earned a Silver Star for a successful delaying action during the Battle of the Bulge and later became Deputy Chief Historian of the U.S. Army.”

 Military Innovation in the Interwar Period

 Williamson Murray and Allan r. Millett (1996)

“As the Second World War began, the American military was far behind its foes, whose advances in fighter and bomber aircraft, armor, and artillery had left America’s forces underarmed; tactical and operational innovations similarly caught Uncle Sam’s forces of guard. Noted historians Murray and Millett explain why American forces were so unprepared—and how today’s and tomorrow’s generals can ensure that this regrettable situation never recurs.”

Brideshead Revisited

 Evelyn Waugh (1945)

“My favorite novel. Waugh served during World War II in the Royal Marines and then in the Royal Horse Guards; his Sword of Honour trilogy is a sardonic look at the travails of the British military. But Brideshead is his masterpiece. The story of a British manor house used as a barracks as the Allies were preparing for the invasion of Normandy, this volume details how a generation that would save the world lost its innocence.”


John Nagl, a retired U.S. Army officer, served as a tank platoon leader in Operation Desert Storm and as a tank battalion task force operations officer in Operation Iraqi Freedom. A graduate of the U.S. Military Academy and a Rhodes Scholar, he had his doctoral dissertation published under the title Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife. He helped general David Petraeus write The U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual. Nagl’s latest book, Knife Fights: A Memoir of Modern War in Theory and Practice (Penguin) includes suggested readings on many of America’s wars.

Originally published in the April 2015 issue of World War II. To subscribe, click here.