Marine Corps
Reading List

The Commandant's Reading List

In an Unclassified message ALMAR 007-05 dated 8 Feb 2005, from the Commandant of the Marine Corps describes the current makeup of the Marine Corps Professional Reading Program.

In 2003, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General M.W. Hagee, published his list of professional readings, stating that "In order to increase the depth of our professional education, we will reinvigorate the Professional Reading Program." The purpose of this ALMAR is to initiate actions that will accomplish that goal, contribute to the growth of aggressive and informed leaders, and above all ensure that our main effort as serious practitioners of the profession of arms remains excellence in Warfighting.

Gen Hagee’s objective in continuing the Professional Reading List echoes the reason 29th Commandant of the Marines Corps, Gen A.M. Gray originally published the list in 1989. General Gray identified in his initiating documents, six objectives for the Professional Reading Program in order to provide a continuum of study for all Marine leaders. These objectives remain unchanged and are reiterated as follows:

  1. To impart a sense of Marine values and traits.
  2. To increase knowledge of our profession.
  3. To improve analytical and reasoning skills.
  4. To increase capacity of using printed media as a means of learning and communication.
  5. To increase knowledge of our Nation’s institutions and the principles upon which our country and way of life were founded.
  6. To increase knowledge of the world’s governments, culture, and geography.

The background of the Marines Professional Reading Program is that Professional Military Education (PME) serves as a bridge between an understanding of the strategic landscape and the unique decision-making requirements for each combat situation. Today’s strategic environment, characterized by uncertainty and lethality, requires leaders at all levels that are mentally as well as physically agile and capable of making difficult, timely decisions in the midst of complex and stressful situations. Repetitive and varying decision-making opportunities create competent judgment, flexibility, and adaptability. Field training and exercises are just one means to improve the thought processes. However, these opportunities will always be limited. The tremendous experiences that men and women have gained over the ages concerning the nature and conduct of war can, if properly studied and understood, serve as an important force multiplier providing myriad opportunities to “experience” decision making in war.

Discussions with leaders during our recent operations in the Global War on Terrorism confirm this assertion. As General Gray stated, “Success in battle depends on many things, some of which we will not fully control. However, the state of preparedness of our Marines (Physical, Intellectual, Psychological, Operational) IS in our hands. The study of our profession through selected readings will assist each Marine’s efforts to achieve operational competence and to better understand the nature of our ‘calling’ as Leaders of Marines."

A perfect list is always subject to debate and discussions; but that spirit of discussion is what is required to achieve a shared increase in our Professional competency and foster increased cohesion of effort. The revised Professional Reading List meets the enduring objectives stated above and will greatly assist in achieving my guidance goal of excellence in Warfighting through competence and comradeship. It was developed based on the following guidance:

  1. The list does not incorporate fleeting trends.
  2. It emphasizes Warfighting.
  3. It is historically based.
  4. It uses serious literature that has an established permanence.
  5. It encompasses a broad context.
  6. and, it is achievable by all Marines.

The Reading List. The Professional Reading list is a component of the Professional Reading Program that is, in turn, an element of our Professional Education Program. It serves as a standardized guide that provides a common understanding throughout the Marine Corps and stimulates intellectual curiosity. A number of books are on the reading list of multiple ranks (e.g. Pvt/PFC/LCpl and 2nd and 1st Lt). The following is the reading list that supports the program and is formatted: Title, Author.


  • A Message to Garcia, Hubbard
  • Blackhawk Down, Bowden
  • Rifleman Dodd, Forester
  • The Defense of Duffer’s Drift, Swinton
  • The Killer Angels, Shaara
  • The Soldier's Load, Marshall
  • U.S. Constitution


  • Battle Leadership, Von Schell
  • Fields of Fire, Webb
  • Flags of Our Fathers, Bradley
  • Gates of Fire, Pressfield
  • The Bridge At Dong Ha, Miller
  • The Last Full Measure, Shaara
  • The Red Badge of Courage, Crane
  • The United States Marines: A History, Simmons
  • Tip of The Spear, Michaels
  • With The Old Breed At Pelelieu and Okinawa, Sledge


  • Attacks!, Rommel
  • Pegasus Bridge, Ambrose
  • Phase Line Green
  • The Battle For Hue 1968, Warr
  • The Arab Mind, Patai
  • The Art of War, Sun Tzu (Griffin)
  • The Forgotten Soldier, Sajer
  • The Village, West
  • This Kind of War, Fehrenbach
  • We Were Soldiers Once, Moore and Galloway


  • Breakout, Russ
  • Citizen Soldiers, Ambrose
  • Command In War, Van Creveld
  • My American Journey, Powell
  • Navajo Weapon, McClain
  • Savage Wars of Peace, Boot
  • Semper Fidelis: The History of The U.S. Marine Corps, Millet
  • Unaccustomed To Fear, Willcock


  • Band of Brothers, Ambrose
  • Bayonet Forward!, Chamberlain
  • Defeat Into Victory, Slim
  • Seven Pillars of Wisdom, Lawrence
  • Strong Men Armed, Leckie
  • The Face of Battle, Keegan
  • The Mask of Command, Keegan
  • War in the Shadows, Asprey


  • First to Fight, Krulak
  • Fortune Favors the Brave, Myers
  • No Bended Knee, Twining
  • Reminiscences of a Marine, Lejeune


  • Leading Marines: MCWP 6-11
  • Small Wars Manual
  • The Armed Forces Officer, Marshall
  • The Quiet American, Greene
  • Victory at High Tide, Heinl

Midshipmen and Officer Candidates:

  • A Message To Garcia, Hubbard
  • Beat To Quarters, Forester
  • Chesty, Hoffman
  • The United States Marines: A History, Simmons
  • Warfighting MCDP 1


  • Cleared Hot, Stoffey
  • Chancellorsville, Sears
  • Fields of Fire, Webb
  • On Infantry, English and Gudmundsson
  • Rifleman Dodd, Forester
  • The Arab Mind, Patai
  • The Easter Offensive, Turley
  • The Face of Battle, Keegan
  • This Kind of War, Fehrenbach

1stLt/ CWO-2:

  • A People Numerous and Armed, Shy
  • All For The Union, Rhodes
  • Attacks!, Rommel
  • Company Commander, Macdonald
  • Once an Eagle, Myrer
  • Reminiscences of A Marine, Lejeune
  • The Forgotten Soldier, Sajer
  • The Storm of Steel, Junger
  • The Ugly American, Lederer and Burdick
  • Utmost Savagery, Alexander


  • Command In War, Van Creveld
  • Eagle Against The Sun, Specter
  • Field Artillery and Firepower, Bailey
  • Fields of Battle, Keegan
  • From Beirut To Jerusalem, Friedman
  • Goodbye Darkness, Manchester
  • Infantry In Battle, Marshall
  • Savage Wars of Peace, Boot
  • Stonewall In The Valley, Tanner
  • Terrorism Today, Harmon
  • The Art of War, Sun Tzu (Griffith)
  • Unaccustomed To Fear, Willcock


  • A Bright Shining Lie, Sheehan
  • Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era, McPherson
  • Crucible of War, Anderson
  • European Armies, Strachan
  • For The Common Defense, Millet and Maslowski
  • Grant Takes Command, Catton
  • On War, Von Clausewitz (Howard and Paret)
  • Strategy, Hart
  • The General, Forester
  • The Glorious Cause, Middlekauff
  • The Guns of August, Tuchman
  • The History of The Peloponnesian War, Thucydides (Landmark Version by Strasser)
  • The Mask of Command, Keegan

LtCol/ CWO-5:

  • A Revolutionary People at War, Royster
  • Defeat Into Victory, Slim
  • Frontiersmen in Blue, Utley
  • Masters of War, Handel
  • One Hundred Days, Woodward
  • Patton: A Genius for War, d'Este
  • Seven Pillars of Wisdom, Lawrence
  • The Army in Viet Nam, Krepinevich
  • The Lexus and the Olive Tree, Friedman
  • The Roots of Blitzkrieg, Corum
  • Supplying War, van Creveld

Col through Gen:

  • Abraham Lincoln and the Second American Revolution, McPherson
  • All Quiet on the Western Front, Remarque
  • Carnage and Culture, Hanson
  • Crusade In Europe, Eisenhower
  • Dereliction of Duty, McMaster
  • Diplomacy, Kissinger
  • Eisenhower's Lieutenants, Weigley
  • Fleet Tactics and Coastal Combat, Hughes
  • Feeding Mars, Lynn
  • Generalship; Its Diseases and Their Cures, Fuller
  • Inventing Grand Strategy and Teaching Command, Sumida
  • Memoirs of General W. T. Sherman, Edited By McFeely
  • Military Innovation In The Interwar Period, Murray and Millet
  • Supreme Command, Cohen
  • The Campaigns of Napoleon, Chandler
  • The Conduct of War, Fuller
  • The Rape of Nanking, Chang
  • War and Peace, Tolstoy

The Commandant outlined several actions that will take place to implement the professional Reading Program, and I have skipped several of them for the purposes of this website as they apply to higher levels of command. However, he orders that all Marines are to actively read and discuss books from the reading list. There are intentional cross linkages if books among ranks to help achieve this goal, as discussion and dialog are the best means to increase means to increase common understanding.

Closing comments from the Commandant:
The emphasis of this program is on Warfighting. It is a dynamic program and recommendations and contributions that meet our objectives and my guidance are highly encouraged. I expect all Marines to continue their personal development through reading. I challenge each marine to actively spend time preparing for the next battle. Prepare yourself in body, mind, and spirit. Share what you learn by discussing your reading with fellow Marines. By reading and discussing, you participate meaningfully in our Warfighting culture.

Keep attacking,
M.W. Hagee
General, U.S. Marine Corps, Commandant of the Marine Corps

e-mail Jim
created: Dec 17, 2004
Updated 16 Mar 05