Sidebar: The Marines' Written Record
A slew of solid non-fiction books captures the struggles and accomplishments, as well as the spirit and essence, of the U.S. Marine Corps.
A book might be considered great for different reasons: the value of its content, its engaging style or prose, a riveting storyline, or perhaps a thought-provoking thesis. Some volumes might be important at the moment, for example the understandable emphasis in the current Marine Corps Reading List on the Middle East and the war on terrorism, but they prove of little interest a few years hence. Others might fall by the wayside when overtaken by a new interpretation of events that overturns conventional wisdom. In any case, greatness is in the eye of the beholder and rarely universally accorded.
Although some works in the following survey of non-fiction books about the Corps do not meet any of the tests of greatness, all illuminate what it means to be a Marine.
Several excellent comprehensive histories of the Marine Corps have been published. The oldest one that remains useful is Soldiers of the Sea (1962) by Robert D. Heinl Jr. In analyzing how the Corps struggled to survive, the author does not hesitate to cast blame on the Army and Navy, numerous generals and admirals, and more than a few political leaders. His strong partisan flavor has delighted fellow Marines for more than four decades but caused more objective readers to question some of his findings.
The three current staples in the field appeared in quick succession, each one filling a different niche, but all well researched and well documented. Edwin H. Simmons, a brigadier general and former director of the Marine Corps History and Museums Division, contributed The United States Marines (1976), still the best condensed account of the service's 232 years. Anyone looking for the essence of the Corps and what it has accomplished will find everything he needs without getting bogged down in extended discussions of institutional changes, high-level strategy, or battlefield minutiae. Journalist and historian J. Robert Moskin authored a much longer work, The U.S. Marine Corps Story (1977), focused heavily on battlefield exploits. Allan R. Millett, a history professor and retired Marine, rounded out the trilogy with Semper Fidelis (1980). This definitive tome evaluates the development of the Corps from an institutional and organizational perspective. He echoed Heinl's theme, but with a great deal more objectivity and an emphasis on Marine adaptation rather than a search for someone to blame for the challenges the Corps had to overcome.
Although many authors have contributed new books in this genre during the intervening years, none has equaled these three standards. Two slightly different variations on the theme have proved popular, however.
General Simmons and Mr. Moskin edited The Marines (1998), a heavily illustrated, large-format volume that took a topical approach to its subject. Lieutenant General Victor H. Krulak's First to Fight: An Inside View of the U.S. Marine Corps (1984) tries to explain why the nation has maintained the Corps for well over two centuries. He argues that the American people value Marines because of their reputation for thoughtful innovation, fiscal economy, readiness for war, and battlefield prowess—all of which influence the larger services to do better than they might if they had no competition from an organization that also fights in their realms of land, air, and sea.
Marine participation in some wars has received little attention. Charles R. Smith's Marines in the Revolution (1975) is the best and most thorough account of the Continental Marines. An official history published by the Marine Corps, it is reliable and objective without raising much controversy. The extensive appendices, which include journals, muster rolls, and similar material, constitute a valuable collection of primary sources. No work of similar scope exists for the Corps' contributions in the War of 1812 and the Mexican War.
By contrast, David M. Sullivan's four-volume The United States Marine Corps in the Civil War (1997, 1997, 1999, 2000) exhaustively captures that conflict, providing many reports and letters verbatim. Ralph W. Donnelly's The Confederate States Marine Corps (1989) studies the even smaller and less active force fielded by the South.
While the Navy in the late 19th century wrestled with the changes wrought by the onset of steam and steel, the Marine Corps faced an even deeper crisis of identity and purpose. Jack Shulimson's The Marine Corps' Search for a Mission, 1880-1898 (1993) assesses the increasing professionalism of Marine officers in this era and their search for a valued role with the new Navy. His work ends with a brief account of the Spanish-American War, another conflict for which there is no adequate history of Marine operations.
One of the few works on the Corps in World War I is Robert Asprey's At Belleau Wood (1965). A definitive account of that epic battle, it gives a full perspective from both sides and proper credit to the Army half of the U.S. 2d Division. It also shows why Belleau Wood gave birth to the sense of institutional pride that still inspires Marines. Alan Axelrod's more recent Miracle at Belleau Wood (2007) is a slightly less scholarly but more sprightly rendition. A thorough history of the Corps in World War I is forthcoming as a collaborative effort by General Simmons and Joseph H. Alexander, a retired Marine colonel and award-winning historian.
The Banana Wars—the frequent U.S. interventions in the Caribbean and Central America—were another building block in the rapidly evolving esprit de corps of the Marines. Regrettably, aside from relatively thin official histories, there are no works of consequence dedicated to these seminal campaigns.
World War II, on the other hand, has been the focus of a large share of all Marine history. Official historians compiled five volumes that remain valuable accounts, but the authors rarely critiqued questionable decisions and actions.
At the instigation of the Marine Corps, two academic historians studied the development of amphibious capability prior to and during the conflict. Relying almost entirely on sources made available by the Marines, Jeter A. Isely and Philip A. Crowl's The U.S. Marines and Amphibious War (1951) comes to the unsurprising conclusion that the Corps was primarily responsible for progress in this field. Their research remains valid, but their account fails to provide a full picture, since they concentrated on operations during the war rather than the critical period of trial and error beforehand.
A handful of Marine campaigns is well covered by scholars. Robert J. Cressman's A Magnificent Fight (1992) and Gregory J. W. Urwin's Facing Fearful Odds (1997) provide solid versions of the almost-mythical defense of Wake Island.
The ordeal and triumph at Guadalcanal has received a major share of attention. Samuel B. Griffith, a Marine Raider and veteran of the campaign, created one of the best early works, The Battle for Guadalcanal (1963), but Richard Frank's hefty volume, Guadalcanal (1990), more than lives up to its billing as the definitive version. Frank artfully weaves together Japanese and American sources to give a well-rounded account of the naval and air battles as well as the fighting on the ground.
Colonel Alexander's Storm Landings (1997) provides a focused look at several critical amphibious assaults during the war—those that hit heavily defended beachheads in the course of the campaign in the Central Pacific. His analysis of American leadership, tactics, equipment, and doctrine, coupled with the evolution of Japanese countermeasures, supplies a valuable update to Isely and Crowl. Earlier, Alexander wrote Utmost Savagery (1995), the best study of the fight for Tarawa Atoll's Betio Island. Although the battle was the subject of numerous previous volumes, his work remains the most thoroughly researched and objectively analyzed and will likely never be surpassed.
One of the best recent books to appear on the Corps in World War II is the re-evaluation of Iwo Jima by Robert S. Burrell, The Ghosts of Iwo Jima (2006). In the aftermath of the battle, naval leaders sought to justify its high cost by citing the island's value as an emergency landing strip for B-29 bombers, an assertion accepted ever since by historians. Burrell, a Marine officer and historian, traces the evolution of planning for the campaign, the sudden appearance of a new rationale after the fighting was over, and the statistical subterfuge that has masked an operational mistake for more than 60 years. The author's questioning of long-accepted "truths" demonstrates that there is still considerable room for fresh research and analysis in the much-written-about Pacific conflict. Most campaigns, in fact, still lack any scholarly treatment beyond the official accounts.
Robert Sherrod, a combat journalist who followed the Marines through several battles, wrote the History of Marine Corps Aviation in World War II (1952). Based on thorough research, the detailed narrative of events is unaccompanied by much analysis of decisions, actions, and consequences. Gerald Astor's Semper Fi in the Sky (2005) brings a more stirring narrative and more personal viewpoint to Marine aviation in World War II.
The official history of the Marines in the Korean War consists of five volumes that match or exceed the quality of their World War II counterparts, but likewise suffer from the same limitations. Also like World War II, the actions of the Marines in Korea, particularly in the first year, have been the subject of numerous popular histories. One that stands out is Heinl's Victory at High Tide (1968), an account of the landing at Inchon and the capture of Seoul. His enthusiasm for the Corps notwithstanding, the author nevertheless gives due credit to Army General Douglas MacArthur's bold vision and unwavering determination, as well as the Navy's wealth of amphibious expertise.
Andrew Geer's The New Breed (1952) is a broader look at the Corp's exceptional performance early in the war, from the 1st Marine Brigade in the Pusan Perimeter through the fighting withdrawal from the Chosin Reservoir and the initial seesaw campaigning that followed. Lee Ballenger's The Outpost War (2000) and The Final Crucible (2001) tell the tale of the often-ignored final two years of the war, making excellent use of personal recollections from those who fought.
For Vietnam, official Marine historians produced nine volumes covering the operational aspects of the war. A better flavor of what the war was like for the men who fought it comes from a handful of books. Francis J. "Bing" West Jr.'s Small Unit Action in Vietnam (1997) is a sample of the early Marine experience, giving a grunt-level account of several battles. Another of his works, The Village (1985), focuses on the experience of one Combined Action Program squad. One of the senior officers involved in that experiment, William R. Corson, wrote The Betrayal (1968), a blistering critique of the American and South Vietnamese failure to defend and support the population in the countryside. Valley of Decision, one of the best books on the long siege at Khe Sanh, was written by Ray W. Stubbe, a chaplain who served in the battle, and historian John Prados. The authors manage to merge a high-level view of decision-making at the White House with personal accounts of what it was like under seemingly never-ending North Vietnamese fire. John G. Miller's The Bridge at Dong Ha (1989) is the tale of Captain John W. Ripley's exploits as an adviser with the Vietnamese Marines, culminating in his single-handed heroic destruction of a span over the Cua Viet River, thus stopping the communists' armored thrust into South Vietnam during Easter 1972.
More recent conflicts, such as the Gulf War, have received attention, but few books focused on the Corps stand out from the crowd. Several volumes of official history thoroughly cover the liberation of Kuwait in 1991. Nicholas E. Reynold's Basrah, Baghdad, and Beyond (2005) covers the takedown of the Saddam Hussein regime in 2003 from his vantage point as a field historian deployed in the theater. In a rare work from a Marine aviator, Jay A. Stout unflinchingly portrays events through the lens of those who fought in the skies over Iraq in Hammer From Above (2005). His skillfully woven first-person stories paint a compelling tale of bravery and chance.
For those who want to know more about a particular combat arm in the Corps, there are a few options. Peter B. Mersky's U.S. Marine Corps Aviation: 1912 to the Present (1983) summarizes its subject and provides a number of heroic highlights. Kenneth W. Estes' Marines Under Armor (2000) is a thorough study of the Corps' use of tanks throughout the last century. He analyzes the ever-present tension between the need to remain light to facilitate amphibious operations and the requirement, once ashore, to have enough armor and firepower to defeat enemy units usually boasting strong fortifications or their own tanks or both. Victor J. Croizat's Across the Reef (1989) serves as a companion work focused on the amphibious tracked vehicle and the part it has played in the history of the Corps.
Unit histories abound, but few are more than skeleton accounts. The most thorough and best written is Ronald J. Brown's A Few Good Men (2001). It covers the 5th Marines from their epic battle at Belleau Wood through the Gulf War.
The Corps suffers from a lack of good biographies of most of its leading figures. Merrill L. Bartlett's Lejeune (1991) is the only full military biography of a commandant. It summarizes Major General John A. Lejeune's key achievement in developing the Corps' capability to conduct amphibious operations at a time when the service was preoccupied with ongoing colonial infantry missions in the Caribbean. Were it not for Lejeune's foresight and ability to impose his will on the institution and to garner the support of Congress, the Marine Corps would never have gained the prominence it would achieve from World War II onward. Millett and Jack Shulimson's Commandants of the Marine Corps (1991) provides chapter-length accounts of all the commandants up through General Robert H. Barrow. In similar fashion, John C. Chapin's Uncommon Men (1992) covers those who have filled the role of sergeant major of the Marine Corps.
Hans Schmidt's Maverick Marine (1987) recounts the life of Brigadier General Smedley D. Butler, one of the Marine Corps' quintessential colonial warriors and, in many respects, the antithesis of Lejeune. Brash, opinionated, outspoken, and prone to lead with heartfelt overenthusiasm, Butler had a knack for creating favorable publicity for the Corps that helped Lejeune achieve his goals, even though they conflicted with Butler's. The author, however, focuses on larger political issues more than military events, preventing this biography from fully capturing Butler's impact on the Corps.
Bartlett joined with Dirk A. Ballendorf to write Pete Ellis (1997), an investigation of the mythic figure known for his authorship in 1920 of a seminal evaluation of the requirement for amphibious operations, as well as for his mysterious death just three years later during an intelligence-gathering mission to the Japanese-controlled islands of the western Pacific. Their thorough research cements his reputation as a far-sighted operational thinker and debunks most of the wild tales surrounding his untimely demise because of alcoholism.
Perhaps the best entry in this genre is Millett's study of General Gerald C. Thomas, In Many a Strife (1993). Thomas had proved his courage as an enlisted Marine and junior officer on the battlefields of France in World War I. But he would make his reputation and affect the Corps most as an intelligent and perceptive staff officer who played a major role in shepherding the Corps from a small organization fighting colonial conflicts in the 1920s and 1930s to the large service that helped determine the outcome of World War II and the Korea War. My biography of Major General Merritt A. 'Red Mike' Edson, Once a Legend (1994), supplements the Thomas book, since the two officers were contemporaries, friends, and cohorts in the effort to enhance the effectiveness of the Corps.
Other biographies capture two of the legends of the Corps. Chesty (2001), which I also wrote, details the exploits of Lieutenant General Lewis B. Puller, who fought in the Banana Wars, the Pacific, and Korea. While his emphasis on leading from the front and looking out for the welfare of his Marines was neither revolutionary in the Corps nor unique in history, he cultivated that image as no other Leatherneck ever had and became synonymous with it, to the point that he set the tone for Marine officers and noncommissioned officers and has been revered ever since as the very icon of the institution.
Bruce Gamble's Black Sheep One (2000) chronicles the life of Colonel Gregory "Pappy" Boyington, the flamboyant World War II ace who was equally noted for his daring bravery in aerial combat and his drunken exploits on the ground. He was hardly an ideal role model, but his irreverence for authority brought him lasting notoriety and helped create the image (justified or not) of Marine fighter pilots.
Biography tends to focus on major personalities, but it can be equally useful in looking at those who did not rise to the highest ranks. One of the few accounts of an enlisted Marine is Al Hemingway's Ira Hayes, Pima Marine (1988), the story of a Marine paratrooper who achieved unwanted fame as one of the flag-raisers in Joe Rosenthal's immortal photo taken on Iwo Jima. Perry Smith's A Hero Among Heroes (1998) describes the life of Lieutenant Colonel Aquilla James Dyess, who bore the unique distinction of earning both the Carnegie Medal for civilian heroism and the Medal of Honor.
A handful of other biographies exist for Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone, Lieutenant General Holland M. "Howlin' Mad" Smith, General Oliver P. Smith, General Roy S. Geiger, Brigadier General William C. Harllee, and Colonel John W. Thomason, but they all fall short in important areas.
The dearth of good biographies is made up, in part, by a number of excellent memoirs and other first-person accounts of service in the Corps. One of the first autobiographies by a Marine to appear in print was John A. Lejeune's The Reminiscences of a Marine (1930). True to his style of leadership while in the Corps, he describes his career in a straightforward manner without embellishment or apology. Written at almost the same time but not published until 2001, His Time in Hell is the compelling narrative of Corporal Warren R. Jackson's service in World War I.
An even more searing memoir of that terrible conflict is Elton E. Mackin's Suddenly We Didn't Want to Die (1993), likewise published decades afterward, but matter-of-factly recounting events, both mundane and earth-shattering, as if they had just happened.
World War II produced several Marine classics, with the best one still being Eugene B. Sledge's With the Old Breed at Peleliu and Okinawa (1981). The young mortarman captured the unmitigated horror and ordinary heroism of two of the toughest Marine campaigns of the war, as well as the comradeship that carried men through those crucibles.
Guadalcanal spawned a number of good volumes. Correspondents Richard Tregaskis and John Hersey recounted their experience with the Marines there in Guadalcanal Diary (1943) and Into the Valley (1943). While Tregaskis spent much of his time with more-senior officers and often looks at events from their point of view, Hersey followed a single company into a confused and ultimately unsuccessful fight and thus yields a more intimate portrait of a slice of this epic campaign. Decades after the war, Merrill B. Twining, who served as operations officer of the 1st Marine Division, produced No Bended Knee (1996), an insider's view of command decisions in that turning point of the war.
Another World War II classic came out of bloody Peleliu. Company commander George P. Hunt described his unit's small but critical part in that battle in Coral Comes High (1946), emphasizing the determination and heroism of his men in securing a critical terrain feature in the opening days of the operation. Robert Leckie's Helmet for My Pillow (1957) chronicles his service as a young enlisted man at Guadalcanal, Cape Gloucester, and Peleliu. It is the tale of the average private, neither saint nor sinner, but forged nonetheless by the trials of combat.
Alvin M. Josephy Jr., a Marine combat correspondent with the 3d Marine Division, penned The Long and the Short and the Tall (1946) to describe what his outfit went through at Guam and Iwo Jima. While not as revealing as Sledge or Leckie, Josephy nonetheless captures some aspects of what it was like for young Marines in the fight across the Pacific.
Robert Sherrod, who accompanied Marines into battle as a civilian correspondent, recounts the battles of Saipan and Iwo Jima in On To Westward (1945). Moving easily from the high command to the foxhole, he captures some of the sentiments of those who fought at all levels.
The autobiographies of two of the Corps' senior leaders in World War II focused naturally on that global conflict. General Holland Smith came out with Coral and Brass (1949). True to his cantankerous nature and readiness to fight for the honor of the Corps on the slightest pretext, his account bitterly attacks many senior officers in the Navy and the Army, while paying high tribute to the men who served under him. General Alexander A. Vandegrift's Once a Marine (1964) is the polar opposite and reflects the southern gentleman who led the Marines onto Guadalcanal and rose to commandant midway through the war. Both books provide a one-sided but useful look at the upper echelons of the Corps during this period.
The Korean War has produced its own notable memoirs. Martin Rust, an NCO, came out with The Last Parallel (1957) just a few years after the war. At times he tries too hard to be on the cutting literary edge, but he otherwise captures the static but deadly cat-and-mouse warfare with the communists in the last year of that conflict. His drawings accompanying the text are highly effective in explaining things that would not come across as well in words.
A trio of more recent books are compelling accounts of junior officers learning to lead men under fire. Joseph R. Owen's Colder Than Hell (1996) deals with the epic breakout from the Chosin Reservoir, John Nolan's The Run-Up to the Punch Bowl (2006) recalls the fighting in 1951, and James Brady's The Coldest War (1990) covers from 1951 into the following year.
Two memoirs span the enlisted-officer divide. Gerald P. Averill's Mustang (1987) recounts the author's service from private to lieutenant colonel, starting in World War II with a parachute unit in the Solomons and winding through Iwo Jima and the Korean War. Wesley L. Fox's Marine Rifleman (2002) covers his career from recruit at Parris Island to first sergeant, then from lieutenant to colonel. From the Korean War through Vietnam his story marches with precision across a huge swath of Marine history and Leatherneck experience. He describes stateside tours and vicious combat in the same matter-of-fact tone, disdaining the overblown prose that mars too many memoirs.
Battle Ready (2004), part biography and part memoir, unveils the career of General Tony Zinni and is coauthored by Tom Clancy. From his two tours in Vietnam through the heart-rending intervention in Somalia and on to the frequent small battles to contain Saddam's Iraq, Zinni applied his common-sense approach to leadership and decision-making to assignments that often deviated far from the norms of conventional conflict.
Several personal narratives stemming from the global war on terrorism have appeared in print. One of the best is Nathaniel Fick's One Bullet Away (2005), which chronicles the challenges facing a junior officer and his men in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The ongoing conflict and the continuing resurgence of public interest in military history will no doubt spawn many more good books about the Corps in the coming years. There remains much to learn about both the institution and the men and women who have proudly borne the title Marine.
For complete publishing information about the books reviewed in this article go to The Marines' Written Record.
Colonel Hoffman is chief of the contemporary studies branch at the U.S. Army Center of Military History and the author of Once a Legend: "Red Mike" Edson of the Marine Raiders (Novato, CA: Presidio Press, 1994, 2002) and Chesty: The Story of Lieutenant General Lewis B. Puller, USMC (New York: Random House, 2001, 2002).
The Marines' Written Record
Compiled by Colonel Jon T. Hoffman, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve (Retired)
Robert D. Heinl Jr., Soldiers of the Sea (Annapolis, MD: United States Naval Institute, 1962).
Edwin H. Simmons, The United States Marines (New York: Viking, 1976; Annapolis, MD: U.S. Naval Institute Press, 2003).
J. Robert Moskin, The U.S. Marine Corps Story (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1977; Old Saybrook, CT: Konecky & Konecky, 2004).
Allan R. Millett, Semper Fidelis (New York: Macmillan, 1980; revised and expanded ed., New York: The Free Press, 1991).
Edwin H. Simmons and J. Robert Moskin, editors, The Marines (Quantico, VA: The Marine Corps Heritage Foundation, 1998).
Victor H. Krulak, First to Fight: An Inside View of the U.S. Marine Corps (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1984).
Charles R. Smith, Marines in the Revolution (Washington, DC: U.S. Marine Corps, 1975; Honolulu, HI: University Press of the Pacific, 2005).
David M. Sullivan, The United States Marine Corps in the Civil War, 4 vols. (Shippensburg, PA: White Mane Publishing, 1997, 1997, 1999, 2000).
Ralph W. Donnelly, The Confederate States Marine Corps (Shippensburg, PA: White Mane Publishing, 1989).
Jack Shulimson, The Marine Corps' Search For a Mission, 1880-1898 (Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 1993).
Robert Asprey, At Belleau Wood (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1965; Denton, TX: University of North Texas Press, 1996).
Alan Axelrod, Miracle at Belleau Wood (Guilford, CT: The Lyons Press, 2007)
Jeter A. Isely and Philip A. Crowl, The U.S. Marines and Amphibious War (Princeton, NJ: University Press, 1951; Quantico, VA: Marine Corps Association Bookstore, 1998).
Robert J. Cressman, A Magnificent Fight (Washington, DC: Marine Corps Historical Center, 1992; Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1995).
Gregory J. Urwin, Facing Fearful Odds (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1997, 2002).
Samuel B. Griffith, The Battle for Guadalcanal (Philadelphia, PA: J. B. Lippencott, 1963; Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2000).
Richard Frank, Guadalcanal (New York: Random House, 1990; New York: Penguin, 1992).
Joseph H. Alexander, Storm Landings (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1997).
Joseph H. Alexander, Utmost Savagery (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1995; New York: Ivy Books, 1995).
Robert S. Burrell, The Ghosts of Iwo Jima (College Station, TX: Texas A & M University Press, 2006).
Robert Sherrod, History of Marine Corps Aviation in World War II (Washington, DC: Combat Forces Press, 1952; San Rafael, CA: Presidio Press, 1980).
Gerald Astor, Semper Fi in the Sky (San Rafael, CA: Presidio Press, 2005).
Robert D. Heinl Jr., Victory at High Tide (Philadelphia, PA: J. B. Lippencott, 1968; Charleston, SC: The Nautical & Aviation Publishing Company of America, 2002).
Andrew Geer, The New Breed (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1952; Nashville, TN: Battery Press, 1989).
Lee Ballenger, The Outpost War (Dulles, VA: Brassey's, 2000; Washington, DC: Potomac Books, 2005).
Lee Ballenger, The Final Crucible (Dulles, VA: Brassey's, 2001; Washington, DC: Potomac Books, 2006).
Francis J. West Jr., Small Unit Action in Vietnam (Washington, DC: Marine Corps History and Museums Division, 1977; New York: Arno Press, 1981).
Francis J. West Jr., The Village (Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1985; New York: Pocket Books, 2003).
William R. Corson, The Betrayal (New York: W. W. Norton & Son, 1968)
Ray W. Stubbe and John Prados, Valley of Decision (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1991; Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2004).
John G. Miller, The Bridge at Dong Ha (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1989; New York; Dell Publishing, 1990).
Nicholas E. Reynold, Basrah, Baghdad, and Beyond (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2005).
Jay A. Stout, Hammer From Above (New York: Presidio Press, 2005).
Peter B. Mersky, U.S. Marine Corps Aviation: 1912 to the Present (Annapolis, MD: The Nautical and Aviation Publishing Company of America, 1983, 1998).
Kenneth W. Estes, Marines Under Armor (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2000).
Victor J. Croizat, Across the Reef (New York: Blandford Press, 1989; Quantico, VA: Marine Corps Association, 1992).
Ronald J. Brown, A Few Good Men (Novato, CA: Presidio Press, 2001).
Merrill L. Bartlett, Lejeune (Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1991; Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1996).
Millett and Jack Shulimson, Commandants of the Marine Corps (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2004).
John C. Chapin, Uncommon Men (Shippensburg, PA: White Mane Publishing, 1992, 1998).
Hans Schmidt, Maverick Marine (Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 1987, 1998).
Dirk A. Ballendorf and Merrill L. Bartlett, Pete Ellis (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1997).
Allan R. Millett, In Many a Strife (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1993).
Jon T. Hoffman, Once a Legend (Novato, CA: Presidio Press, 1994, 2002).
Jon T. Hoffman, Chesty (New York: Random House, 2001, 2002).
Bruce Gamble, Black Sheep One (Novato, CA: Presidio Press, 2000, 2003).
Al Hemingway, Ira Hayes, Pima Marine (University Press of America, 1988).
Perry Smith, A Hero Among Heroes (Quantico, VA: Marine Corps Association, 1998).
John A. Lejeune, The Reminiscences of a Marine (Philadelphia: Dorrance & Co., 1930; Quantico, VA: Marine Corps Association, 1979).
Warren R. Jackson, His Time in Hell (Novato, CA: Presidio Press, 2001).
Elton E. Mackin, Suddenly We Didn't Want to Die (Novato, CA: Presidio Press, 1993, 1996).
Eugene B. Sledge, With the Old Breed at Peleliu and Okinawa (Novato, CA: Presidio Press, 1981, 2007).
Richard Tregaskis, Guadalcanal Diary (New York: Random House, 1943; New York: Modern Library, 2000).
John Hersey, Into the Valley (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1943; Lincoln, NE: Bison Books, 2002).
Merrill B.Twining, No Bended Knee (Novato, CA: Presidio Press, 1996, 2004).
George P. Hunt, Coral Comes High (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1946; Nashville, TN: Battery Press, 1995).
Robert Leckie, Helmet for My Pillow (New York: Random House, 1957; New York: Bantam Books, 1968).
Alvin M. Josephy Jr., The Long and the Short and the Tall (Alfred A. Knopf, 1946; Short Hills, NJ: Burford Books, 2000).
Robert Sherrod, On To Westward (New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1945; Mount Pleasant, SC: The Nautical & Aviation Publishing Company of America, 1990).
Holland Smith, Coral and Brass (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1949; Nashville, TN: Battery Press, 2004).
Alexander A. Vandegrift, Once a Marine (New York: W. W. Norton, 1964; New York: Ballantine Books, 1966).
Martin Russ, The Last Parallel (New York: Rinehart & Company, 1957; New York: Fromm International, 1999).
Joseph R. Owen, Colder Than Hell (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1996; New York: Ballantine Books, 1997).
John Nolan, The Run-Up to the Punch Bowl (Philadelphia: Xlibris, 2006)
James Brady, The Coldest War (New York: Orion Books, 1990; New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 2000).
Gerald P. Averill, Mustang (Novato, CA: Presidio Press, 1987; New York: Pocket Books, 1988).
Wesley L. Fox, Marine Rifleman (Washington, DC: Brassey's, 2002).
General Tony Zinni, Battle Ready (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 2004; New York: Berkley Trade, 2005).
Nathaniel Fick, One Bullet Away (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2005; Boston: Mariner Books, 2006).
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