Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Marine Corps Reading List

Not the first thing you think of when I say "Marine Corps" is it? You might be surprised.

Normally, you don't think of the United States Marine Corps when you think of great reading. Usually the first thing that comes to mind is strong men storming out of amphibious landing crafts storming the beaches to close with and kill the enemy. Maybe you think of their famous assault on Chapultepec in the Mexican War, or Belleau Wood, or Peleliu, Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

In any event, the image of the Marine Corps is one of martial strength, discipline, courage, and commitment. Notably absent there is the virtue of being well-read. However, that's a bit inaccurate.

Did you know the United States Marine Corps has a reading list? Yes, every Marine has assigned books to read based on their rank, and it's phenomenalAt minimum, three books per year are required to fulfill annual reading criteria for all active duty and reserve Marines, officer and enlisted.

Here's a selection of some of the books on the list:

The Killer Angels -Michael Shaara
I'm Staying With My Boys...: The Heroic Life of Sgt. John Basilone, USMC - Jim Prosser
The Red Badge of Courage - Stephen Crane
Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card
The Marines of Montford Point: America's First Black Marines - Melton McLaurin
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
The Art of War - Sun Tzu
Infantry Attacks - Erwin Rommel
Black Hearts - Jim Frederick 
On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society - Dave Grossman
The Face of Battle - John Keegan
Diplomacy - Henry Kissinger
Team of Rivals - Doris Kearns Goodwin
The Federalist Papers - Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, John Jay

Again, this is just a partial list, but look at it. There is everything from the philosophical to the historical, to the abstract, to the in your face awfulness of war. Just even looking at this partial list, how much have you read?

Since I'm always looking for a good book to read, I've decided that I'm going to work my way through the list (after I finish the Aubrey-Maturin Series, of course). Accordingly, just like the Marine Corps is always looking for a few good men, you should always be looking for a few good books.

If you are in need of a good book, the Commandant of the United States Marine Corps has a few suggestions for you.

Carry on.


  1. And it's not a static list. I "think" Commandant Al Gray started the reading list and, as you note, it's a good one. BTW, read 14 of the ones listed.

    1. 14! You have me beat by quite a bit. I've only read seven of the ones I listed...which is why it's going to be a fun project for me. I love finding great books!