top of page
  • Writer's pictureNovel Nest

23 Best History and Warfare Books Recommended by Dan Carlin

History buff? Battle enthusiast? Dan Carlin is your go-to guy.

His podcast "Hardcore History" is a sensation, and now he's picked out 23 enthralling books about history and war that will keep you riveted.

You won't want to miss them!

Affiliate Disclaimer: This post features Amazon affiliate links, which means I may earn a small commission if you make a purchase through these links.

Dan Carlin's own work stands as a testament to his ability to transport readers across the ages. This book takes us on a riveting journey through history's most catastrophic events, from the collapse of ancient civilizations to the brink of nuclear disaster. With his characteristic storytelling prowess, Carlin brings to life the enduring impact of apocalyptic moments on human societies and our collective psyche.

Laurence Bergreen's narrative prowess shines as he resurrects the awe-inspiring voyage of Ferdinand Magellan. Readers will find themselves immersed in the perilous expedition that challenged the boundaries of human exploration. Bergreen's meticulous research and vivid prose unveil the courage, desperation, and determination that marked Magellan's journey into the unknown.

In "Storm of Steel," Ernst Jünger offers an unflinching account of the horrors of World War I. His unvarnished recollections thrust readers onto the front lines, where the brutality and camaraderie of combat intersect. Jünger's ability to convey both the harrowing nature of war and the complexities of human emotions makes this memoir an enduring exploration of the human experience in times of conflict.

Jim Dwyer's meticulous research and empathetic storytelling bring the tragic events of September 11, 2001, into sharp focus. With unflinching clarity, "102 Minutes" delves into the harrowing accounts of those who endured the unimaginable within the Twin Towers. Dwyer's prose serves as a poignant tribute to the resilience and heroism displayed during one of modern history's darkest hours.

Henrik Eberle's compilation of personal documents offers an unsettling glimpse into the psyche of one of history's most infamous figures. "The Hitler Book" immerses readers in Adolf Hitler's inner world through his letters, writings, and confidants' accounts. Eberle's work is a chilling reminder of the power of ideology and the consequences of unchecked power.

Anne Frank's diary is an enduring testament to the human spirit's resilience in the face of unimaginable adversity. Through her eloquent prose, readers witness the realities of life in hiding during the Holocaust. Frank's introspection, hopes, and fears serve as a poignant reminder of the atrocities of war and the need to never forget.

E.B. Sledge's gripping memoir transports readers into the heart of World War II's Pacific Theater. With vivid detail, Sledge recounts the harrowing battles of Peleliu and Okinawa, offering a visceral portrayal of the brutality of combat. His honest and unfiltered narrative captures both the camaraderie forged in the crucible of war and the psychological toll it exacts.

Dexter Filkins' collection of war stories casts a spotlight on the often overlooked human dimensions of conflict. Through the lens of a seasoned war correspondent, "The Forever War" invites readers to witness the indomitable spirit, resilience, and trauma that define the lives of those caught in the crossfire of history.

Will Durant's intellectual tour de force distills centuries of human civilization into a concise and illuminating exploration. In "The Lessons of History," Durant and his wife Ariel traverse the annals of time, uncovering the recurring patterns and principles that have shaped societies. Their erudition offers readers a unique lens through which to comprehend the forces guiding humanity's journey.

Sverrir Jakobsson's historical tapestry weaves together the threads of Viking warriors and the Byzantine Empire in a narrative of cultural fusion and military prowess. "The Varangians" sheds light on an often overlooked chapter in history, revealing the dynamic interactions that bridged distant civilizations through the lives of these storied warriors.

Jon E. Lewis curates an unparalleled anthology of firsthand accounts that illuminate the human experience amidst the tumult of World War II. This extensive collection presents a mosaic of perspectives, from soldiers and civilians to leaders and survivors, offering an unfiltered look at the breadth of emotions and realities that defined this global conflict.

In this Byzantine masterpiece, Emperor Maurice's "Strategikon" transcends time to offer insights into the military strategy of a bygone era. By unlocking the tactical wisdom of the past, readers gain a deeper appreciation for the intricacies of ancient warfare and the enduring nature of strategic thought.

Niall Ferguson's panoramic view of the 20th century illuminates the interconnectedness of global conflicts and societal shifts. "The War of the World" unveils the threads linking wars, revolutions, and cultural upheavals, ultimately offering a nuanced understanding of the forces that have shaped the modern world.

R. Ernest Dupuy's magnum opus serves as an indispensable guide to the evolution of warfare through the ages. From ancient battles to modern conflicts, this encyclopedic work presents a comprehensive panorama of military campaigns, strategies, and the evolution of weaponry that have shaped history.

Ryukyu Shimpo's anthology provides a poignant counterpoint to the narrative of battle, as civilian voices rise from the depths of history to recount their experiences during the Battle of Okinawa. This compilation serves as a somber reminder of the human cost of war, offering an intimate perspective on lives forever altered by conflict.

Conrad C. Crane's exploration of American airpower strategy during World War II delves into the intricate moral and tactical considerations that underpinned military decisions. By scrutinizing the impact of strategic bombing campaigns, Crane paints a complex picture of the intersection between technology, ethics, and warfare.

Winston S. Churchill's authoritative account of World War II weaves a tapestry of political, military, and human dimensions. Through Churchill's perspective, readers gain insight into the formidable challenges and strategic gambits that defined this global conflict, as well as the tenacity of the human spirit in times of crisis.

Kurt Vonnegut's signature blend of satire and profundity takes readers on a surreal journey through time and space in "Slaughterhouse-Five." This anti-war classic confronts the absurdity of conflict, illuminating the lasting scars it leaves on both individuals and societies.

Dave Grossman delves into the psyche of those tasked with the grim responsibility of taking lives in the line of duty. "On Killing" probes the psychological toll of combat, shedding light on the ethical dilemmas, coping mechanisms, and societal ramifications that emerge when ordinary individuals become instruments of violence.

Matthew A. Rozell's evocative oral history captures the voices of World War II veterans who faced the crucible of the Pacific Theater. Through these personal interviews, readers gain a visceral understanding of the sacrifices, camaraderie, and harrowing realities that defined the experiences of those who served.

In this groundbreaking work, Jared Diamond unpacks the myriad factors that have shaped the trajectory of human societies. While not exclusively focused on warfare, "Guns, Germs, and Steel" examines how geographical and environmental forces have influenced the rise and fall of civilizations, shedding light on the historical context within which conflicts have arisen.


If you enjoyed these book recommendations, check out the rest of my history book lists on my blog-

These 21 meticulously selected history and warfare books offer a multifaceted exploration of humanity's past, from the epic tales of exploration to the nuanced narratives of conflict.

Each book invites readers to journey through the annals of history, gaining insights into the triumphs, tragedies, and enduring lessons that continue to shape our world.


bottom of page