While reading the Autobiography of respected former Marine Corps Commandant and Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, I was reminded of the wide-ranging books Marines of all levels are encouraged to read. I’ve pasted below, the 2019 Marine Corps Commandant’s Professional Reading List
I want Marines to read beyond the list, too, especially paying attention to current events, science and technology, and what our potential adversaries are up to around the world
- The 2019 Commandant’s Professional Reading List (CPRL) represents an updated version of those books most pertinent for professional development and critical thinking at each level.
- The CPRL is arranged into two sections: “Commandants Choice” and “Grade Levels.” Each Marine shall read a minimum of five books from the “Commandants Choice” or “Grade Level” sections each year.
- Marines should attempt to read all titles within their level prior to proceeding to a higher level.
- In addition to the reading list, Marines are highly encouraged to incorporate periodicals into their reading regimens. Scholarly and professionally oriented articles published by independent magazines and journals foster innovation, PME development, critical study of the profession of arms, and serious discussion regarding topics of interest to the Marine Corps. Professional publications inform debate on current, topical issues of relevance to the Marine Corps and promote intellectual growth of the individual Marine.
The 12 Lists track the career arc of the entry level enlisted Soldier to Senior Officers.
- CMC’s Choice
- A – Z List (by title)
- Discussion Guides
- Entry Level – Enlisted
- Primary Level – Enlisted
- Career Level – Enlisted
- Intermediate Level – Enlisted
- Senior Level – Enlisted
- Entry Level – Officer
- Primary Level – Officer
- Career Level – Officer
- Intermediate Level – Officer
Given my age and stage, I pulled the Senior Officer Level List, which focuses on Geopolitics, History, Government, Changes in Technology, Failures from the Past, and of course, Leadership.
DIPLOMACY by Henry Kissinger
Overview of the history and an account of Henry Kissinger’s negotiations with world leaders. The author describes how the art of diplomacy has created the world in which we live, and how America’s approach to foreign affairs has always differed vastly from that of other nations.
ASSIGNMENT: PENTAGON: HOW TO EXCEL IN A BUREAUCRACY by Perry M. Smith; Daniel M. Gerstein
Essential guide for newly assigned military personnel, fresh civilians, and interested outsiders to the Pentagon’s informal set of arrangements, networks, and functions that operate in the service and joint-service world. It delivers practical advice and helpful hints about surviving the pressures and problems of working in “The Building.” If you’ve been assigned to the Pentagon or are starting work for any large company, you need to read this book.
EVERY WAR MUST END by Fred Charles Iklé
Every War Must End, which Colin Powell credits in his autobiography with having shaped his thinking on how to end the first Gulf War, analyzes the many critical obstacles to ending a war–an aspect of military strategy that is frequently and tragically overlooked. This book explores the difficult and often painful process through which wars in the modern age have been brought to a close and what this process means for the future. Iklé considers a variety of examples from twentieth-century history and examines specific strategies that effectively “won the peace,” including the Allied policy in Germany and Japan after World War II.
STILWELL AND THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE IN CHINA by Barbara W. Tuchman
Barbara W. Tuchman won her second Pulitzer Prize for this nonfiction, authoritative work of history that recounts the birth of modern China through the eyes of one extraordinary American. General Joseph W. Stilwell was a man who loved China deeply and knew its people as few Americans ever have.
SUPREME COMMAND: SOLDIERS, STATESMEN, AND LEADERSHIP IN WARTIME by Eliot A. Cohen This book offers compelling proof that, as Clemenceau put it, “War is too important to leave to the generals.” By examining the shared leadership traits of four politicians (Abraham Lincoln, Georges Clemenceau, Winston Churchill, and David Ben-Gurion) who triumphed in extraordinarily varied military campaigns, the author argues that active statesmen make the best wartime leaders, pushing their military subordinates to succeed where they might have failed if left to their own devices.
THE GUNS OF AUGUST by Barbara W. Tuchman; Robert K. Massie (Foreword by) Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best nonfiction books of all time. In this landmark, Pulitzer Prize-winning account, renowned historian Barbara W. Tuchman re-creates the first month of World War I: thirty days in the summer of 1914 that determined the course of the conflict, the century, and ultimately our present world. Beginning with the funeral of Edward VII, Tuchman traces each step that led to the inevitable clash.
THE INNOVATOR’S DILEMMA: WHEN NEW TECHNOLOGIES CAUSE GREAT FIRMS TO FAIL by Clayton M. Christensen Innovation expert Clayton M. Christensen says outstanding companies can do everything right and still lose their market leadership—or worse, disappear altogether. And not only does he prove what he says, but he tells others how to avoid a similar fate. Focusing on “disruptive technology,” Christensen shows why most companies miss out on new waves of innovation.T
HE LITTLE BOOK OF ECONOMICS: HOW THE ECONOMY WORKS IN THE REAL WORLD by Greg Ip From inflation to the Federal Reserve, taxes to the budget deficit, the author walks us through how the economy really works and its role in our everyday life.
TREASURY’S WAR: THE UNLEASHING OF A NEW ERA OF FINANCIAL WARFARE by Juan Zarate
How the United States uses economic embargoes and financial tools as weapons against murderous terrorist groups and “rogue states” such as North Korea, Iran and Syria. Zarate, a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, is a former federal prosecutor who joined the U.S. Treasury Department after the 9/11 attacks to figure out ways to constrict the financing of terrorist groups. Relying heavily on anecdotes, acronyms and actual case studies, he provides detailed explanations of secretive operations far less publicized than ground wars and drone strikes.
THE SOLDIER AND THE STATE: THE THEORY AND POLITICS OF CIVIL-MILITARY RELATIONS by Samuel P. Huntington
In a classic work, Samuel P. Huntington challenges most of the old assumptions and ideas on the role of the military in society. Stressing the value of the military outlook for American national policy, Huntington has performed the distinctive task of developing a general theory of civil-military relations and subjecting it to rigorous historical analysis.
THE LANDMARK THUCYDIDES: A COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE TO THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR by Robert B. Strassler (Editor) Comprehensive guide to the Peloponnesian War. It includes several maps, brief informative appendices by classical scholars, explanatory marginal notes on each page, an index of unprecedented subtlety, and numerous other useful features.
THE INEVITABLE: UNDERSTANDING THE 12 TECHNOLOGICAL FORCES THAT WILL SHAPE OUR FUTURE by Kevin Kelly Much of what will happen in the next thirty years is inevitable, driven by technological trends that are already in motion. Kevin Kelly provides an optimistic road map for the future, showing how the coming changes in our lives – from virtual reality in the home to an on-demand economy to artificial intelligence embedded in everything we manufacture – can be understood as the result of a few long-term, accelerating forces.
THE FEDERALIST PAPERS by Alexander Hamilton; James Madison, et al.
This book explains the complexities of a constitutional government—its political structure and principles based on the inherent rights of man. Scholars have long regarded this work as a milestone in political science and a classic of American political theory. It is commonly referred to the third “sacred writing” of American political history, behind the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.
TEAM OF RIVALS: THE POLITICAL GENIUS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN by Doris Kearns Goodwin
Biography of Abraham Lincoln, centered on his mastery of men and how it shaped the most significant presidency in the nation’s history. Throughout the turbulent 1850s, each of his “rivals” energetically sought the presidency as the conflict over slavery was leading inexorably to secession and civil war. Lincoln’s understanding of human behavior and motivation enabled him to bring his disgruntled opponents together, create the most unusual cabinet in history, and marshal their talents to the task of preserving the Union and winning the war.
STRATEGY: A HISTORY by Lawrence Freedman. Sir Lawrence Freedman, one of the world’s leading authorities on war and international politics, captures the vast history of strategic thinking, in a consistently engaging and insightful account of how strategy came to pervade every aspect of our lives.
DERELICTION OF DUTY: LYNDON JOHNSON, ROBERT MCNAMARA, THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF, AND THE LIES THAT LED TO VIETNAM by H. R. McMaster
Analysis of how and why the United States became involved in an all-out war in Southeast Asia. Based on transcripts and personal accounts of crucial meetings, confrontations and decisions, it re-creates what happened and why. The book focuses on: President Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, General Maxwell Taylor, McGeorge Bundy and other top officials.
ANOTHER BLOODY CENTURY: FUTURE WARFARE by Colin Gray
This book looks into the future to provide some intriguing answers about the ways Western armed forces—which have traditionally been trained to fight conventional, not guerrilla, warfare—may need to evolve.
CHAIRMAN XI REMAKES THE PLA: ASSESSING CHINESE MILITARY REFORMS by Phillip C. Saunders (Editor), et. al China’s current military reforms are unprecedented in their ambition and in the scale and scope of the organizational changes. Virtually every part of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) now reports to different leaders, has had its mission and responsibilities changed, has lost or gained subordinate units, or has undergone a major internal reorganization.