Top 10 Airpower & Military Classic Reading Lists

DeM Banter:  I have been pondering a reading list for quite some time.   Several folks have asked for the top 5-10 leadership books and I always enjoy asking people…”What are you reading now?”  I threw a few books down on paper and then came across West Point’s Top 10 Military Classics.  Of course this list began a dialog where Gen David Deptula offered his list as well…and all covered by Tom Ricks….who could ask for better lists?   Should look familiar to any ASG grad (SAASS, SAMS, SAW).  Let me know your thoughts… or better yet…what’s missing?

The Top Ten Military Classics

Clausewitz, Carl von. On War. 1832. Ed. and trans. by Michael Howard and Peter Paret. Indexed ed. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1984.

Corbett, Julian Stafford. Some Principles of Maritime Strategy. Reprint, New York: AMS Press, 1976 (originally published by Conway Press Ltd., 1911; 1st Reprint by U.S. Naval Institute Press, 1972).

Delbruck, Hans. History of the Art of War Within the Framework of Political History.  Original German edition, 4 vols, 1900-1920.  Vols. 1-4 trans. by Colonel Walter J. Renfroe, Jr. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1975-82.

Douhet, Giulio. The Command of the Air. 1921. USAF Warrior Studies. Richard Kohn and Joseph P. Harahan, eds. Trans. by Dino Ferrari. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1983, paperback, (Ayer Company published an edition in 1972 which was a reprint of the 1942 edition originally translated by Dino Ferrari).

Du Picq, Ardant. Battle Studies. In Roots of Strategy, Book 2, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania:  Stackpole Books, 1987, paperback (previously published by The Military Service Publishing Co., 1946, and by the U.S. Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, as part of the “Art of War,” colloquium, undated).

Jomini, Antoine Henri. The Art of War. 1838. G.H. Mendell and W.P. Craighill. Reprint, Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1971.

Machiavelli, Niccolo.  The Art of War.  1521. Trans. by Ellis Farneworth.  Revised with an introduction by Neal Wood.  New York, NY: Da Capo Press, 1965, 1990 repr.

Mahan, Alfred Thayer. The Influence of Sea Power Upon History 1660-1783. 1890. Reprint, New York: Hill and Wang, 1957. Paperback, New York: Dover Books, 1987.

Sun Tzu. The Art of War.  4th century B.C. Trans. with an introduction by Samuel B. Griffith.  New York:  Oxford University Press, 1963 (also available in Roots of Strategy, R.H. Phillips, ed., Stackpole, 1987, paperback).

Thucydides.  The Peloponnesian War.  Revised Edition.  Trans. by Edward Crawley. New York:  Modern Library, 1982.


Hey West Point, here’s an airpower reading list from an expert

By Lt. Gen. David Deptula (USAF, ret.)

Winged Defense: The Development and Possibilities of Modern Air Power Economic and Military, William Mitchell, 1925

The Air Campaign: Planning for Combat, John Warden, 1988

The Transformation of American Air PowerBenjamin S. Lambeth, 2000

The Influence of Air Power upon History, Walter J. Boyne, 2003

Airpower Advantage: Planning the Gulf War Air Campaign, 1989-1991, Diane T. Putney, 2004

The Art of Airpower: Sun Tzu Revisited, Sanu Kainikara, 2009

Learning Large Lessons: The Evolving Roles of Ground Power and Air Power in the Post-Cold War Era, David E. Johnson, 2007

The Foundations of US Air Doctrine: The Problem of Friction in War, Barry D. Watts, 1984.

A History of Air Warfare, John Olsen, 2010

Global Air Power, John Olsen, 2011

Ideas, Concepts, Doctrine: Basic Thinking in the United States Air Force, Frank Futrell, 1989

The Icarus Syndrome, Carl Builder, 1993.

Gen Deptula notes…he would replace Douhet on the USMA History Department’s top 10 classics with “Winged Defense.”

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