The best books on War, recommended by Cécile Fabre

If killing is wrong, how can going to war be justified? Is it always wrong to kill civilians? If a Nazi soldier were billeted in your home, should you respond when he greets you? Philosopher Cécile Fabre chooses Five Books that help explore the profound ethical dilemmas of war.

The best books on War, recommended by Michael Howard

Fear is a great examiner of one’s character, argues the World War II veteran and eminent historian of war, Sir Michael Howard. He recommends the best books on war, two on strategy and three on what it’s actually like for soldiers and commanding officers.

The best books on The Psychology of War, recommended by Rose McDermott

Traditionally, the study of international relations has been about institutions, not individuals and the psychology that motivates them. But that is changing. Rose McDermott, professor of international relations at Brown University, introduces the work of Robert Jarvis and others pioneering the field of ‘political psychology.’

The best books on Veterans, recommended by Phil Klay

While many of us in the West commemorate the contribution of war veterans and the soldiers who lost their lives on our behalf, there’s also a tendency to see war as something distant and unconnected with our daily lives. Here Phil Klay, veteran of the US Marine Corps and award-winning novelist, recommends books that help bridge that gap—and capture the complicated relationship between soldiers and the societies on whose behalf they fight.

The best books on War, recommended by Mary Kaldor

The Director of the Centre for the Study of Global Governance at the London School of Economics says there is fine line between being a hero and being a murderer – that’s why the Geneva convention matters

The Best War Writing, recommended by Kate McLoughlin

War writing extends to all sorts of genres, including blogs and Twitter. Oxford University’s Professor Kate McLoughlin, author of Authoring War: The Literary Representation of War from the Iliad to Iraq recommends some of her favourite books of war writing.

The best books on The Cold War, recommended by Archie Brown

American military and economic superiority cannot explain why the Cold War came to an end in the late 1980s and early 1990s. According to the historian Archie Brown, you need to accept the primacy of politics and human agency both in the USSR and the West. He chooses five books to understand the Cold War and offers some broader reflections on the qualities of good political leadership—then and now.

The best books on Auschwitz, recommended by Mary Fulbrook

Why were so few of the Nazis involved in running Auschwitz brought to justice? Why did some Germans during the Holocaust risk death to hide Jewish people from Nazi persecution, while others were passive bystanders? Historian Mary Fulbrook—author of Reckonings, which won the 2019 Wolfson History Prize—recommends essential reading for understanding Auschwitz and its aftermath.

The best books on Popular Uprisings, recommended by Robert Poole

Under what conditions do popular uprisings end in massacres? What’s the best way for someone protesting against a government to get what they want? Robert Poole, Professor of History at the University of Central Lancashire and author of Peterloo: The English Uprising, recommends the best books on uprisings.

The best books on Transitional Justice, recommended by Colleen Murphy

When a period of war or oppression draws to a close, how should a country face up to past wrongdoing while creating a future free of conflict? Colleen Murphy—professor of law, philosophy and political science at the University of Illinois—discusses five books that examine the issues at the heart of ‘transitional justice.’

The best books on Bosnia, recommended by Velma Šarić

As a teenager, Velma Šarić’s hometown of Kladanj welcomed refugees from eastern Bosnia as it was bombed and shelled, her primary school eventually becoming a shelter for people fleeing the massacre at Srebenica. Now she runs Sarajevo’s Post-Conflict Research Centre, trying to prevent anything like it from ever happening again. She recommends books to read on the Bosnian War and explains that it was not a war between different communities, but rather an assault on the country’s multiethnic, multicultural identity.

The best books on El Alamein, recommended by Simon Ball

Churchill hailed the Allied victory at the Battle of El Alamein as “the end of the beginning” for Hitler in World War II. But in that very same speech, he downplayed its significance. Historian Simon Ball separates clichés from facts and chooses the best of the vast number of books written about El Alamein, the Desert War and World War II in general.

The best books on American History, recommended by Brent Glass

Which are the best books on American history? Brent Glass, Director Emeritus of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, the world’s largest museum devoted to telling the story of America, chooses five standout books in a crowded field.

The best books on Drone Warfare, recommended by Hugh Gusterson

The introduction of drones “makes possible perpetual war without costs”, warns the anthropology professor and security expert Hugh Gusterson. Here he selects the best books that examine their ethical, psychological and political impact upon 21st century warfare.

P W Singer and August Cole choose the best books on World War III

What will the next global conflict look like? Two of America’s leading defence experts, P W Singer and August Cole, turned to science fiction to explore the prospect of a future war, and how existing technology might be used in one. Here, they choose five novels depicting a fictional World War Three that served as inspiration.

The best books on Genocide, recommended by Norman Naimark

Genocide isn’t the preserve of fanatics and racist thugs – it’s part of human nature, says Stanford historian Norman Naimark. He tells us how genocide happens, who denies it, where it could return, and the best books to read about it.

The best books on The Decline of Violence, recommended by Steven Pinker

Our TV screens may be full of news about war and crime, but this masks a fall in historical terms in the number of violent deaths that’s nothing short of astonishing, says Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker. He tells us how and why this happened. (This interview was updated 17 December, 2020, to include books that have come out since it was published in 2011)

Books on the Refugee Experience, recommended by Shahram Khosravi

To understand what makes integration fail or succeed we need to know why migrants moved in the first place, says Shahram Khosravi, Professor of Social Anthropology at Stockholm University and author of Young and Defiant in Tehran and ‘Illegal’ Traveller.

The best books on Syria, recommended by Nikolaos van Dam

The veteran Dutch diplomat, Nikolaos van Dam, explains why meaningful political change in Syria will be difficult to achieve – and warns that any move towards democracy is likely to be accompanied by severe sectarian tension.

The best books on The Korean War, recommended by Bruce Cumings

Before Vietnam, America fought in the Korean War—but its role in that conflict has been far less examined. Award-winning historian Bruce Cumings talks about the misconceptions many people still hold, and how they distort our understanding of the current North Korean regime.