Militaria: 6 books on warfare

battle from Napoleonic wars

As every collector knows, half the fun of collecting is in the learning. All collectors want to know the story behind a specific artefact, but to also find out the history relevant to their collection.

This is especially true about militaria collectors, who are often real buffs in a wide range of topics that touch upon warfare, military operations, armour, and so on. They have on their disposal excellent resources to satisfy their curiosity. There are many books about every imaginable aspect of this field of human activities.

Warfare is an especially popular topic. Volumes and volumes have been written about every single major combat ever fought, as well as about small, obscure skirmishes. Here is a brief overview of six books that are widely considered as major works on military strategy and operations:

The Art of War by Sun Tzu (600 or 500 BC) is considered to be one of the most important texts on warfare and strategy ever written. It is also full of neat aphorisms, such as “know your enemies and know yourself”; “all warfare is based on deception.”; and “the supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting”.

History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides (about 400 BC) covers the war between Sparta and Athens. As an Athenian general, Thucydides was probably not quite impartial, but his rich and detailed account of the drama that took place so long ago is still a popular read.

ancient Greece battle

A Book of Five Rings: The Classic Guide to Strategy by Miyamoto Musashi (around 1645) is considered by many as a valuable source of psychological insight for anyone who relies on strategy and tactics for outwitting the competition (including modern-day businessmen). Musashi was a samurai, a member of the Japanese warrior caste.

On War by Carl von Clausewitz (written between 1816 and 1830; published posthumously in 1832) contains that quote about war being “just a continuation of politics by other means.” Clausewitz was a Prussian general who suffered a lot of humiliation at the hands of Napoleon’s army before the latter’s ultimate defeat. As one historian said, On War is more a book about how to understand war, rather than a book about how to make war. And it remains the most important theoretical book on war to date.

The Silent War: South African Recce operations 1969 – 1994 by Peter Stiff (1999) tells the story of South Africa’s special forces. It has also been described as the most important and frank history of South Africa during the apartheid years.

Strategy: A History by Lawrence Freedman (2013) captures the vast history of strategic thinking, from the strategies practiced in primate groups and ancient Greece to the military innovations of the 19th century and contemporary corporate strategy. Lawrence Freedman is one of the world’s leading authorities on war and international politics.

For these and other titles on warfare and military history, browse the bidorbuy books section of militaria, as well as the bidorbuy books category.

military strategy