Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Books for Junior Officers

H/T to Blackfive for pointing this new list out.

Company Command has done a survey of Army officers about what they read and then published the top fifty.  They call it Read2Lead.  I've always thought that when a leader isn't doing his job, he ought to be learning how to do it better.  I was blessed to have a Command Sergeant Major in Germany who believed that an NCO should read through all of the same reading lists as the officers he serves under.  He would assign reading at each NCO development session, and expected us to be able to discuss the contents of each of them, the lessons to be learned, and how they applied to us as Intelligence professionals.

Here's the list from Read2Lead, with ones I've read in bold and my notes:

(Links to Amazon if you want to get your own copy will also drop a few shekels in Uncle's gun fund.)
  1. Once an Eagle - Read it, reread it, made my son read it.  My daughter will also read it, and so will Boo when he gets old enough.  It's a morality play about the selfless warrior played against the self-interested careerist, but you have to have ideals to strive for, and this one provides them with sprinkles on top.  The lessons in this one apply to anyone, military or not.
  2. We Were Soldiers Once…and Young - Excellent telling of the story of one of the first big fights in Vietnam. Also gave me background information when I learned who Rick Rescorla was.
  3. Platoon Leader: A Memoir of Command in Combat
  4. Taking the Guidon: Exceptional Leadership at the Company Level
  5. Black Hearts: One Platoon’s Descent into Madness in Iraq’s Triangle
  6. Small Unit Leadership: A Commonsense Approach
  7. On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society - I've read some excerpts from this, and I need to read the whole thing.
  8. Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest - Another one that I've read and reread.  Also gave to my sons to read, and will give to the daughter when she's old enough.
  9. Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die
  10. Infantry Attacks - Read all of it in English and then reread parts of it in German.  There is a difference in content.
  11. A Message to Garcia
  12. NIV Study Bible
  13. The Prince
  14. On Combat: The Psychology and Physiology of Deadly Conflict in War and in Peace - I've read some excerpts from this, and I need to read the whole thing.
  15. The Good Soldiers
  16. Gates of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae
  17. About Face: The Odyssey of an American Warrior - Read it initially as a young PFC.  Reread it every couple of years since.  If half of what Hackworth says about his career is true, he was as hard as chicken lips.
  18. The Leadership Lessons of Jesus: A Timeless Model for Today’s Leaders
  19. Principle-Centered Leadership
  20. The Defence of Duffer’s Drift
  21. The Heights of Courage: A Tank Leader’s War on the Golan
  22. How to Win Friends and Influence People - Believe it or not, I've read this one.  One of my former employers thought I needed "people skills".
  23. Team Yankee - Great novel.  A little dated now, but the leadership shown by the main character still shines.
  24. The Forgotten Soldier
  25. East of Chosin: Entrapment and Breakout In Korea, 1950
  26. Leadership and Training for the Fight: A Few Thoughts on Leadership and Training from a Former Special Operations Soldier
  27. The Places In Between
  28. Steel My Soldiers’ Hearts: The Hopeless to Hardcore Transformation of 4th Battalion, 39th Infantry, United States Army, Vietnam - Another great one by Hackworth.  He expands on something from his first book and discusses how he took a broken down battalion and turned them into fighters.
  29. Street Without Joy - I used to think this was kind of dated, but considering how Iraq and Afghanistan are going, I know now that I was wrong.
  30. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap … and Others Don’t
  31. The Village
  32. First Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently
  33. Passion of Command: The Moral Imperative of Leadership
  34. Company Commander: The Classic Infantry Memoir of World War II
  35. Leadership: The Warrior’s Art
  36. Company Command: The Bottom Line
  37. Beyond Band of Brothers: The War Memoirs of Major Dick Winters
  38. The Defense of Jisr al-Doreaa
  39. Infantry in Battle
  40. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People
  41. Shackleton’s Way: Leadership Lessons from the Great Antarctic Explorer
  42. Words for Warriors: A Professional Soldier’s Notebook
  43. The Arab Mind
  44. Cigars, Whiskey and Winning: Leadership Lessonsfrom General Ulysses S. Grant
  45. It’s Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy
  46. Muddy Boots Leadership: Real Life Stories and Personal Examples of Good, Bad, and Unexpected Results
  47. The Soldier and the State: The Theory and Politics of Civil-Military Relations
  48. This Kind of War: The Classic Korean War History
  49. The 360 Degree Leader: Developing Your Influence from Anywhere in the Organization
  50. The Mission, the Men, and Me: Lessons from a Former Delta Force Commander
The list is interesting because it's the books that our young leaders, who will be our battalion and brigade leaders in the next war, are reading for their own professional enrichment.

I think I need to read more.  I haven't read too many books on the list that have been published since I got out.  How about the rest of y'all?


TOTWTYTR said...

"This Kind of War" is a great history of the Korean War. I recommend it to everyone, military or not.

Anonymous said...

Two more:

Starship Troopers (Don't judge it by the movie, the book is on the West Point reading list)

Ender's Game - really a lesson on how NOT to train officers but a good read none the less

Free-range Oyster said...

@Anon 11:51: I agree that the conduct of the teachers/brass in Ender's Game is best used as a negative example, but Ender's own leadership and innovation thinking are IMNSHO a valuable example to follow for *any* leader.

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