If You Like War Stories

If You Like… is a feature highlighting blogger recommendations for books, authors, TV shows, movies, and music based on the things you already know and love. This week’s post features recommendations for war stories. If you can’t get enough of those history channel reruns, bookish battle scenes, and war anthems, I hope you will share your favorites in the comments.

If you like war stories


Recommended by Kari @ A Good Addiction:

  • Bull Rider by Suzanne Morgan Williams: Technically not an actual war story, but the main character’s old brother comes back from Iraq paralyzed. 
  • War Letters Edited by Andrew Carroll and Voices of War Edited by Tom Wiener: Both of these are compilations of letters from soldiers throughout wars in American history, even back to the Civil War. Both include pictures too (though the latter more so), and cover everything from love for the soldiers’ families to front line horrors.
  • 365 Days by Ronald Glasser, MD: Written by a doctor who served in an Army hospital in Japan in 1968-69, this book gives you such an unflinching look at the cost of war and the horrors soldiers endured, and the heartbreak of trying to treat the soldiers.

Recommended by Jamie @ The Perpetual Page-Turner:

  • The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien: This is one of my all time favorite books. I was supposed to read it in high school for a paper and I managed to write it without reading the book because I thought I would hate it. Then it showed up for a project in college so I decided to read it…and I LOVED it. The paper I wrote about it was actually one of my favorite papers I ever had to write. I found it to be MUCH more than a war story and I plan on rereading this again soon!
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusack: One of the most powerful books I’ve ever read. Centered around the Holocaust and narrated by Death (cool right?), we get a glimpse of the war and the horrid treatment of the Jews as a young German girl and her family experience it. You’ll cry your eyes out but it is sooo soo worth it.
  • Night by Elie Wiesel: This memoir written by a Holocaust survivor may break your heart. It’s one of those books that really gets to you….you read about the Holocaust from a distance in textbooks and you feel like it is horrible and you know it is wrong, but this book haunts you and really put faces to all that you learned in your textbook.

Recommended by Jessica @ I Read to Relax:

  • Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card: A science fiction war story, set in Earth’s future. The children of our world must prepare to fight aliens.
  • Sunrise Over Fallujah by Walter Dean Myers: Set in the Middle East, this is a much more humanizing look at war. A companion book to the earlier, Fallen Angels, which is set during the Vietnam War.
  • The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne: A phenomenally well done glimpse into the concentration camps of World War II.

Recommended by Gina @ The Bucket List:

  • The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien: A fantastic tale of being in the war and then coping when back home again.
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusack: Go behind-the-scenes in the Holocaust with a girl who can’t read but likes to steal books anyway.

Recommended by Me:

  • The Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins: Amazing books that explore the impact of war on children and families. Collins never sugarcoats the harsh realities of war.
  • The Things a Brother Knows by Dana Reinhardt: A brother returns home from war as a hometown hero, but can he ever recover from the trauma of his experiences in the Middle East?
  • Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys: A look at a lesser-known side of WWII. A Lithuanian teen girl and her family are taken to a work camp in Siberia where extreme conditions threaten their ability to survive. However, even in the worst settings, moments of humanity and kindness shine through.
  • Number the Stars by Lois Lowry: A Newberry winning classic from one of my all-time favorite authors about the treatment of Jews in Denmark during WWII.
  • The Summer Before Boys by Nora Raleigh Baskin: While this book takes place on the home front, it shows the impact of a mother at war on her daughter.
  • The Devil’s Arithmetic by Jane Yolen: One of my childhood favorites. A boring Passover Seder becomes much more interesting, and horrifying, when Hannah is transported back in time to the Holocaust and learns about her family’s past.
  • The Sword of Truth Series by Terry Goodkind: This long running fantasy series is loaded with war strategy and battle scenes (not always for the faint of heart). There are some fairly gruesome depictions of the cost of war, as well as interesting philosophical commentary on war. Whether you agree or disagree with the series’ message, you’ll definitely find it thought-provoking.


Recommended by Kari @ A Good Addiction:

  • We Were Soldiers: This movie is actually based on a book, which I’ve read part of and is seriously great. This one is set in Vietnam, and definitely does a great job capturing everything that went on there. And I will always remember the napalm scene, including the guy who gets hit right with it.
  • Full Metal Jacket: Also a Vietnam setting, from the marine side of things, including boot camp.

Recommended by Gina @ The Bucket List:

  • Saving Private Ryan: Directed by Spielberg, starring Tom Hanks, Vin Diesel, and Matt Damon, what more could you want? A wonderfully sculpted war story about a group of army men on a journey to bring one man home after his other brothers die in combat.
  • The Patriot: Mel Gibson is a war hero, haunted by his past when his sons take part in the war. He is thrown into action when a British soldier murders his son.
  • Gone with the Wind: A crazy girl and a war going on, just mix in Clark Gable and you’re set for a classic that will rock your world.

Recommended by Me:

  • Life is Beautiful: A father tries to turn his time in a concentration camp into a game in order to protect his son from the reality of their incarceration.
  • Jakob the Liar: Set in a Jewish ghetto during the Holocaust, a man pretends to have a secret radio in order to provide “news” to the community.
  • Good Morning, Vietnam: Features Robin Williams as a humorous DJ during the Vietnam War.
  • The Boy in the Striped Pajamas: The son of a concentration camp officer befriends a Jewish boy on the other side of the fence with dangerous consequences.
  • The Reader: A woman is brought to trial for Nazi war crimes.
  • Schindler’s List: A German businessman saves over a thousand Jews from death during the Holocaust. A look at humanitarianism during WWII with beautiful cinematography. “Whoever saves one life saves the world entire.”

TV Shows

Recommended by Me:

  • American Dreams: This show is set in the 60s and features current events of the time period. The politics of the Vietnam War are prevalent, and the war gets up close and personal when one of the main characters goes overseas.
  • The Wonder Years: Another show set in the 60s in which the Vietnam War serves as an important part of the show’s ongoing storyline.
  • M*A*S*H: A classic show about an army hospital in the Korean War.
  • The Unit: A fast-paced show about members of an American special ops group and their families.


Recommended by Gina @ The Bucket List:

What are your favorite war-related books, movies, tv shows, or music? Please share your own recommendations in the comments!

If you would like to get involved in future weeks of “If You Like…” please contact me for more information. You can check out past weeks of If You Like posts here.


10 Responses to "If You Like War Stories"

  • So I’m OLD compared to you guys, but must see war film is APOLCALPYSE NOW. Scene of helicopters bombing with napalm to Wagner’s Flight of the Valkyries is CLASSIC as is Robert Duvall’s famous line: “I love the smell of napalm in the morning…”

    1 sarah darer littman said this (June 28, 2011 at 2:05 PM)

    • Thank you! Want to make sure I stick your recs from Twitter on here, too, so they don’t get lost:

      Band of Brothers: TV series and book
      Blackhawk Down: Movie and book
      Jarhead: Only read book, but there is also a movie

      2 Melanie said this (June 28, 2011 at 2:22 PM)

  • So. I’ve seen The Things They Carried on these lists MULTIPLE times. I think I was Googling “best war book to read” many moons ago and it popped up on many lists. I’ve been trying to get it from the library forEVER but they never seem to have it. I need to go ahead and purchase it. I listened a bit to the audiobook and that seemed like something I could get into, even tho I don’t normally listen to audiobooks.

    Also! The Boy in the Striped Pajamas! I’ve been wanting to read that one, too! I compared that cover to The Things A Brother Knows. I believe the brother in that novel has come back from war, too.

    I agree with SDL, love the movie Black Hawk Down! And although I have only seen the first two episodes, major high fives to Band of Brothers. It made me weepy, and Hubs swears up and down its the best miniseries in the history of miniseries.

    I swear if you call me out on Twitter about not reading The Things They Carried yet so help me I will reach through this computer…

    3 thatcovergirl said this (June 28, 2011 at 3:59 PM)

    • I can’t call you out. I haven’t read it either. I think I’ve read excerpts from it for school, but never the entire thing. I did, however, read The Red Badge of Courage several times. I kind of hate that book, though.

      4 Melanie said this (June 28, 2011 at 5:14 PM)

  • A few additions that I didn’t see mentioned: Articles of War by Arvin, Soldier X by Wulffson, Fallen Angels by Myers, Fly Girl by Smith, The Forever War (nonfiction) by Filkins, War Is:…Soldiers, Survivors & Storytellers Talk About War (nonfiction)

    Great stuff! I LOVE war books…..

    5 Annette said this (June 28, 2011 at 4:04 PM)

    • Thanks for adding in some more recs!

      6 Melanie said this (June 28, 2011 at 5:13 PM)

  • Some of my favorite war books are those written by Tom Clancy. I also love the Band of Brothers book as much as I love the HBO movie series. It is one of the best HBO series ever made and in my opinion, second only to HBO’s The Pacific, also a movie series about the war in the Pacific during World War II.

    7 Jeff Rivera said this (June 29, 2011 at 5:19 AM)

    • Thanks for the recs!

      8 Melanie said this (June 29, 2011 at 8:02 PM)

  • I totally forgot to put down some other books I’ve really loved!!
    Leviathan and Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld
    The Looking Glass Wars trilogy by Frank Beddor

    9 Jessica M said this (June 29, 2011 at 6:53 PM)

    • Thanks for adding more 🙂

      10 Melanie said this (June 29, 2011 at 8:03 PM)