Miyamoto Musashi was the child of an era when Japan was emerging from decades of civil strife. Lured to the great Battle of Sekigahara in 1600 by the hope of becoming a samurai-without really knowing what it meant-he regains consciousness after the battle to find himself lying defeated, dazed and wounded among thousands of the dead and dying. On his way home, he commits a rash act, becomes a fugitive and brings life in his own village to a standstill-until he is captured by a weaponless Zen monk.
Mentioned in many episodes.
(From Ep. 94)
In the fall of 1944, Allied commanders planned to land airborne divisions in an attempt to capture a series of bridges behind German lines, including the “bridge too far” at Arnhem. Geoffrey Powell, himself a veteran of the Arnhem operation, drew on conversations with many other survivors of the battle to write one of the most dramatic of all accounts of the battle.
(From Ep. 90)
Thousands of soldiers die every year to defend their country. United States Army Staff Sergeant Travis Mills was sure that he would become another statistic when, during his third tour of duty in Afghanistan, he was caught in an IED blast four days before his twenty-fifth birthday. Against the odds, he lived, but at a severe cost—Travis became one of only five soldiers from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to survive a quadruple amputation.
(From Ep. 89)
In April of 1972, SEAL Lieutenant Tom Norris risked his life in an unprecedented ground rescue of two American airmen who were shot down behind enemy lines in North Vietnam, a feat for which he would be awarded the Medal of Honor–an award that represents the pinnacle of heroism and courage.
Just six months later, Norris was sent on a dangerous special reconnaissance mission that would take his team deep into enemy territory. On that mission, they engaged a vastly superior force. In the running gun battle that ensued, Lieutenant Norris was severely wounded; a bullet entered his left eye and exited the left side of his head. SEAL Petty Officer Mike Thornton, under heavy fire, fought his way back onto a North Vietnamese beach to rescue his officer. This was the first time Tom and Mike had been on a combat mission together. Mike’s act of courage and loyalty marks the only time in modern history that the Medal of Honor has been awarded in a combat action where one recipient received the Medal for saving the life of another.
(From Ep. 88)
An account of the Falklands War told by an ordinary soldier. In retelling what happened to him and his fellow paratroopers during the bloody battle for Mount Longdon, Bramley exposes the effects that the prospect of dying and the reality of killing have on a common soldier – from those who desert to those who, like himself, obey orders, face death and do their share of killing and those who become brutalized and kill and maim the enemy unnecessarily.
(From Ep. 87)
This classic of military history tells the story of the fall of St. Lô, the first major objective of the invading American armies in Normandy in June of 1944. Although St. Lô was intended to be taken within days of the landing, stubborn German resistance postponed the town’s fall until July 18.
(From Ep. 85)
The shocking account of how a unit of average middle-aged Germans became the cold-blooded murderers of tens of thousands of Jews.
(From Ep. 84)
(From Ep. 81)
The original British Army anthology on leadership, used to train generations of officers, brings together the collected wisdom of great military leaders, tacticians and historians with the authentic voices of unknown soldiers. Moving, inspiring, amusing and thought-provoking, it teaches lessons about motivation, leadership and morale that are every bit as valuable to today’s leaders and managers. Complete with a new introduction by Robin Matthews, who commanded the Light Dragoons in Iraq, on the background to Serve to Lead and its relevance to his own career and experiences from Sierra Leone to Afghanistan.
(From Ep. 80)
Miyamoto Musashi’s Go Rin no Sho or the book of five rings, is considered a classic treatise on military strategy, much like Sun Tzu’s The Art of War and Chanakya’s Arthashastra. The five “books” refer to the idea that there are different elements of battle, just as there are different physical elements in life, as described by Buddhism, Shinto, and other Eastern religions. Through the book Musashi defends his thesis: a man who conquers himself is ready to take it on on the world, should need arise.
(From Ep. 78)
Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl’s memoir has riveted generations of readers with its descriptions of life in Nazi death camps and its lessons for spiritual survival. Between 1942 and 1945 Frankl labored in four different camps, including Auschwitz, while his parents, brother, and pregnant wife perished. Based on his own experience and the experiences of others he treated later in his practice, Frankl argues that we cannot avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose. Frankl’s theory-known as logotherapy, from the Greek word logos (“meaning”)-holds that our primary drive in life is not pleasure, as Freud maintained, but the discovery and pursuit of what we personally find meaningful.
(From Ep. 76)
I’m No Hero is an autobiography of Captain Charlie Plumb’s life; it is the story of the Vietnam POW’s who faced an isolated world of degradation, loneliness, tedium, hunger and pain; most significantly, it is a story of hope, for it deals directly with how the techniques used by the POW’s just to survive are the same techniques you and I apply in daily life.
(From Ep. 75)
On the hellish battlefields of World War II Europe, Major Dick Winters led his Easy Company—the now-legendary Band of Brothers—from the confusion and chaos of the D-Day invasion to the final capture of Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest.
(From Ep. 74)
Harley Flanagan provides a fascinating memoir: a child prodigy and family friend of Andy Warhol and Allen Ginsberg, at a young age he became close to many stars of the early punk rock scene like Joe Strummer of The Clash and was taught to play bass by members of the famed black punk band Bad Brains. He started playing drums for the New York punk band the Stimulators when he was 11 years old; playing at places like Max’s Kansas City with some of the most notable names of the punk scene. He then went on to start the notorious hardcore band Cro-Mags.
Brothers Forever tells the intimate and personal story of how two Naval academy roommates—US Marine Travis Manion and US Navy SEAL Brendan Looney—defined a generation’s sacrifice after 9/11, and how their loved ones overcame heartbreak to carry on in their memory. It is a remarkable story of friendship, family, and war.
(from Ep. 71)
Here is one of the most riveting first-person accounts ever to come out of World War II. Robert Leckie enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in January 1942, shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. In Helmet for My Pillow we follow his odyssey, from basic training on Parris Island, South Carolina, all the way to the raging battles in the Pacific, where some of the war’s fiercest fighting took place. Recounting his service with the 1st Marine Division and the brutal action on Guadalcanal, New Britain, and Peleliu, Leckie spares no detail of the horrors and sacrifices of war, painting an unvarnished portrait of how real warriors are made, fight, and often die in the defense of their country.
(from Ep. 70)
Helping kids set healthy boundaries for their private parts can be a daunting and awkward task for parents, counselors and educators. Written from a kid s point of view, I Said No! makes this task a lot easier.
(from Ep. 67)
As a newly commissioned Captain of a veteran Army regiment, MacDonald’s first combat was war at its most hellish―the Battle of the Bulge. In this plain-spoken but eloquent narrative, we live each minute at MacDonald’s side, sharing in all of combat’s misery, terror, and drama. How this green commander gains his men’s loyalty in the snows of war-torn Europe is one of the great, true, unforgettable war stories of all time.
(from Ep. 63)
Through the Valley is the captivating memoir of the last U.S. Army soldier taken prisoner during the Vietnam War. A narrative of courage, hope, and survival, Through the Valley is more than just a war story. It also portrays the thrill and horror of combat, the fear and anxiety of captivity, and the stories of friendships forged and friends lost.
(from Ep. 60)
In December 1937, the Japanese army swept into the ancient city of Nanking. Within weeks, more than 300,000 Chinese civilians and soldiers were systematically raped, tortured, and murdered—a death toll exceeding that of the atomic blasts of Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined. Using extensive interviews with survivors and newly discovered documents, Iris Chang has written the definitive history of this horrifying episode.
(from Ep. 60)
Iris Chang’s best-selling book The Rape of Nanking forever changed the way we view the Second World War in Asia. It all began with a photo of a river choked with the bodies of hundreds of Chinese civilians that shook Iris to her core. Who were these people? Why had this happened and how could their story have been lost to history? She could not shake that image from her head. She could not forget what she had seen.
(from ep. 59)
This is the story of a kid from the wrong side of Scranton who made it to the Naval Academy, played linebacker for the Navy football team for four years, became a Marine officer, graduated first in his infantry officer class, led his men in two intense combat tours in the Anbar Province, received the Silver Star for gallantry, and now has emerged as one of the most interesting figures on the mixed martial arts (MMA) professional circuit.
(from Ep. 57)
As a veteran campaigner, the Byzantine emperor Maurice (582-602) compiled a unique and influential handbook intended for the field commander. In this first complete English translation, the Strategikon is an invaluable source not only for early Byzantine history but for the general history of the art of war. Describing in detail weaponry and armor, daily life on the march or in camp, clothing, food, medical care, military law, and titles of the Byzantine army of the seventh century, the Strategikon offers insights into the Byzantine military ethos.
(from Ep. 54)
“The Armed Forces Officer” is much more than a how-to guide for military officers. It is a series of candid, timeless essays on the nature of the people who occupy the ranks of the military services. “The Armed Forces Officer” highlights that our military is not just a collection of machines, processes, and regulations, but a very human endeavor whose proper understanding requires acknowledging that humans are what make our military the complex, potent, and wonderful organization that it is—a truth that can be applied to any organization, military or civilian, composed of people and all their mysterious complexities. This is a republication of the 1950 edition of “The Armed Forces Officer.”
(from Ep. 53)
During the early, uncertain days of the Korean War, World War II veteran and company lieutenant Joe Owen saw firsthand how the hastily assembled mix of some two hundred regulars and raw reservists hardened into a superb Marine rifle company known as Baker-One-Seven.
(from Ep. 51)
America’s “forgotten war” lasted just thirty-seven months, yet 54,246 Americans died in that time — nearly as many as died in ten years in Vietnam. On the fiftieth anniversary of this devastating conflict, James Brady tells the story of his life as a young marine lieutenant in Korea.
(from Ep. 50)
“For the last two years, I’ve interviewed nearly two hundred world-class performers for my podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show. The guests range from super celebs (Jamie Foxx, Arnold Schwarzenegger, etc.) and athletes (icons of powerlifting, gymnastics, surfing, etc.) to legendary Special Operations commanders and black-market biochemists. For most of my guests, it’s the first time they’ve agreed to a two-to-three-hour interview, and the show has more than 100 million downloads.
(from Ep. 48)
Sergeant Charles Windolph was the last white survivor of the Battle of the Little Big Horn when he described it nearly seventy years later. A six-year veteran of the Seventh Cavalry, Windolph fought in Benteen’s troop on that fatal Sunday and recalls in vivid detail the battle that wiped out Custer’s command. Equally vivid is the evidence marshaled by Frazier and Robert Hunt on events leading up to the battle and on the investigation that followed.
(from Ep. 45)
Wooden Leg: A Warrior Who Fought Custer is a book by Thomas Bailey Marquis about the life of a Northern Cheyenne Indian, Wooden Leg, who fought in several historic battles between United States forces and the Plains Indians, including the Battle of the Little Bighorn, where he faced the troops of George Armstrong Custer.
(from Ep. 43)
Lieutenant Coningsby Dawson joined the Canadian Army at the front in 1916, and continued in service until the end of World War I. He served in the Somme battlefield at Albert, at Thiepval, at Courcelette, and at the taking of the Regina trench.
(from Ep. 39)
Europe was in the throes of World War II, and when America joined the fighting, Ernie Pyle went along. Long before television beamed daily images of combat into our living rooms, Pyle’s on-the-spot reporting gave the American public a firsthand view of what war was like for the boys on the front. Pyle followed the soldiers into the trenches, battlefields, field hospitals, and beleaguered cities of Europe. What he witnessed he described with a clarity, sympathy, and grit that gave the public back home an immediate sense of the foot soldier’s experience.
(from Ep. 33)
The Killing Zone: My Life in the Vietnam War, by Frederick Downs Jr. (Author)
Uncovering the secrets behind the 1968 My Lai massacre in Vietnam, this is “a brutal, cautionary tale that serves as a painful reminder of the worst that can happen in war.”—Chicago Tribune.
A remarkable memoir of small-unit leadership and the coming of age of a young soldier in combat in Vietnam.’
In January 1969, one of the most promising young lieutenant colonels the US Army had ever seen touched down in Vietnam for his second tour of duty, which would turn out to be his most daring and legendary.
“Part of the success of my work, I believe, has been the result of my willingness to make of myself a human guinea pig, in order to prove on my own body the practicability and truth of the training system and methods of living I advocate.
“I was phenomenally lucky, so I will tell our story, will try to tell you something of what happened over there. There have been war books written by other men who were better writers than I—more fitted to place what they saw upon the printed page.
(from Ep. 26)
“Slaughter vividly conveys the reality of combat during World War II in his book with sweeping passages that literally place his reader on the battlefield beside him.” Belvoir Eagle
Before D-Day, regular army soldiers called the National Guardsmen of Virginia’s 116th Infantry Regiment “Home Nannies” and “Weekend Warriors” and worse. On June 6, 1944, on Omaha Beach, however, these proud Virginians who carried the legacy of the famed Stonewall Brigade showed the regular army and the world what true valor really was.
(from Ep. 24)
Elite sniper Jody Mitic loved being a soldier. His raw, candid, and engrossing memoir follows his personal journey into the Canadian military, through sniper training, and firefights in Afghanistan, culminating on the fateful night when he stepped on a landmine and lost both of his legs below the knees.
(from Ep. 23)
The Art of War is almost certainly the most famous study of strategy ever written and has had an extraordinary influence on the history of warfare. The principles Sun-tzu expounded were utilized brilliantly by such great Asian war leaders as Mao Tse-tung, Giap, and Yamamoto. First translated two hundred years ago by a French missionary, Sun-tzu’s Art of War has been credited with influencing Napoleon, the German General Staff, and even the planning for Desert Storm.
(from Ep. 22)
Award-winning journalist Barbara Demick follows the lives of six North Korean citizens over fifteen years—a chaotic period that saw the death of Kim Il-sung, the rise to power of his son Kim Jong-il, and a devastating famine that killed one-fifth of the population. Demick brings to life what it means to be living under the most repressive totalitarian regime today—an Orwellian world that is by choice not connected to the Internet, where displays of affection are punished, informants are rewarded, and an offhand remark can send a person to the gulag for life. Demick takes us deep inside the country,
(from Ep. 20)
The book is written in the context of China’s guerrilla war against Japanese occupiers; this conflict is mentioned often by Mao. In this book Mao discusses the differences between guerrilla and “orthodox” military forces, as well as how such forces can work together for a common goal. Other topics covered include propaganda and political concerns, the formation of guerrilla units, the qualities of a good guerrilla officer, discipline in a guerrilla army, and guerrilla bases.
Text: English (translation) Original Language: Chinese
(From Ep. 19)
When Chuck Tatum began Marine boot camp, he was just a smart-aleck teenager eager to serve his country. Little did he know that he would be training under a living legend of the Corps—Medal of Honor recipient John Basilone, who had almost single-handedly fought off a Japanese force of three thousand on Guadalcanal.
(From Ep. 18)
One Soldier’s War is a visceral and unflinching memoir of a young Russian soldier’s experience in the Chechen wars that brilliantly captures the fear, drudgery, chaos, and brutality of modern combat. An excerpt of the book was hailed by Tibor Fisher in the Guardian as “right up there with Catch-22 and Michael Herr’s Dispatches,” and the book won Russia’s inaugural Debut Prize, which recognizes authors who write “despite, not because of, their life circumstances.”
(From Ep. 17)
They were called Easy Company, but their mission was never easy. Immortalized as the Band of Brothers, they suffered 150% casualties while liberating Europe?an unparalleled record of bravery under fire. Winner of the Distinguished Service Cross, Dick Winters was their legendary commander. This is his story, told in his own words for the first time.
(From Ep. 16)
During the spring of 1994, in a tiny country called Rwanda, some 800,000 people were hacked to death, one by one, by their neighbors in a gruesome civil war. Several years later, journalist Jean Hatzfeld traveled to Rwanda to interview ten participants in the killings…
(From Ep. 15)
Henry V is Shakespeare’s most famous “war play”; it includes the storied English victory over the French at Agincourt. Some of it glorifies war, especially the choruses and Henry’s speeches urging his troops into battle.
(From Ep. 14)
A memoir of astonishing power, savagery, and ashen lyricism, Storm of Steel illuminates not only the horrors but also the fascination of total war, seen through the eyes of an ordinary German soldier.
(From Ep. 12)
Alistair Urquhart was among the Gordon Highlanders captured by the Japanese in Singapore during World War II. He not only survived 750 days in the jungle working as a slave on the notorious “death railway” and the bridge on the River Kwai, but he was subsequently taken prisoner on one of the Japanese “hellships” which was later torpedoed, killing nearly everyone on board—but not Urquhart.
(From Ep. 10)
“Eugene Sledge became more than a legend with his memoir, With The Old Breed. He became a chronicler, a historian, a storyteller who turns the extremes of the war in the Pacific—the terror, the camaraderie, the banal and the extraordinary—into terms we mortals can grasp.”—Tom Hanks
(From Ep. 2)
Called “everything a twentieth century war memoir could possibly be” by The New York Times, this national bestseller by Colonel David H. Hackworth presents a vivid and powerful portrait of a life of patriotism.