Primary Level Officer: WO, 2ndLt, 1stLt

Commandant’s Primary Level Books: Warrant Officer – 2nd Lieutenant – 1st Lieutenant

All junior officers are required to read these books. Headed to The Basic School? Get these books before you go!

All Quiet on the Western Front

This book is about Paul Baumer, who enlists with his classmates in the German army of WWI. They become soldiers with youthful enthusiasm. Through years of vivid horror, Paul holds fast to a single vow: to fight against the principle of hate that meaninglessly pits young men of the same generation but different uniforms against each other, if only he can come out of the war alive. All Quiet on the Western Front was also made into one of the most famous movies of all time.


Battle Leadership

Collection of lessons learned by the author, who served as a small unit infantry commander (German army) during WWI. It includes observations on tactics and psychological reactions of troops in battle.

Available in multiple formats on Amazon

Gates of Fire

In the battle of Thermopylae (480 B.C.), 7000 Greeks led by 300 Spartans held an enormous Persian army of 200,000 at bay for several days – an army that would have changed our civilization had the Greeks not died fighting it. Never before or since has such a badly outnumbered army fought so valiantly nor effectively. This book is also on the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Reading List.

Available in multiple formats on Amazon

Marine! The Life of LtGen Lewis B. (Chesty) Puller, USMC

Biography of real-life hero Chesty Puller, the most decorated Marine in history. From commanding the Horse Marines in Peking to leading the Inchon landing, Puller was a legend in his own time. But his popularity added to his blunt honesty earned him many enemies in Washington, and when the war was done they no longer needed a fighter like Chesty. Winner of 5 Navy Crosses, no officer ever inspired greater courage, loyalty, and devotion from his men, pushed them harder, or served them better.

Available in multiple formats on Amazon

Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War

Story of a young Marine lieutenant and his comrades who are dropped into the mountain jungle of Vietnam as boys and forced to fight their way into manhood. Standing in their way are the North Vietnamese, monsoon rain and mud, leeches and tigers, disease and malnutrition. Almost as daunting are the obstacles they discover between each other: racial tension, competing ambitions, and duplicitous superior officers. This book is also on the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Reading List.

Available in multiple formats on Amazon

The Art of War

Written over 2,000 years ago, The Art of War is the first known study of the planning and conduct of military operations. In addition to military theory and strategy, the author examines relevant economic, political, and psychological factors. The timeless principles of the Art of War are often applied outside the military realm in the areas of business and management. This book is also on the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Reading List.

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In Defence of Duffer’s Drift

Insightful analysis of small unit tactics in defending a strategic objective given limited communications, resources, and manpower. Although some advice is outdated, 3 of the 22 lessons learned presented are of extreme relevance to a new platoon leader: the urgency and importance of first setting security and preparing defenses, the use of cover and concealment, and the creation of clear fields of fire.

Free Online: Amazon

The Forgotten Soldier

Recounts the horror of WWII on the eastern front as seen through the eyes of a teenage German soldier. It depicts a desperate struggle for survival against cold, hunger, and terrifying Soviet artillery. Photos show the hardships and destructiveness of war such as troops battling through snow, mud, burned villages and rubble-strewn cities.

Available in multiple formats on Amazon

The Last Stand of Fox Company

During the Korean War, 234 heroic Marines from Fox Company, First Division, held off a force of 10,000 Chinese soldiers in subzero weather to secure the Toktong Pass. This is their story. This book is also on the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Reading List.

Available in multiple formats on Amazon

The Marines of Montford Point

Collection of interviews with members of the Montford Point Marines Association, organized by chronology and theme. This recognizes and honors the men who desegregated the Marine Corps and loyally served their country in three major wars. It is about the first black recruits who received Marine Corps basic training at the segregated Camp Montford Point (adjacent to Camp Lejeune). Between 1942 and 1949, more than 20,000 men trained at Montford Point, most of them going on to serve in the Pacific Theatre in World War II as members of support units. This book is also on the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Reading List.

Available in multiple formats on Amazon

The U.S. Constitution

Cover Art

The U.S. Constitution is the supreme law of the United States of America. Amendments 1-10 constitute what is known as the Bill of Rights. Several changes and additions have been made over the past 200+ years (Amendments 11-27).

National Archives Digital images and text transcript

With the Old Breed at Peleliu and Okinawa

First-person account of fighting at Peleliu and Okinawa. Eugene Sledge was part of WWII’s famous 1st Marine Division, 3d Battalion, 5th Marines. It is based on notes Sledge secretly kept in a copy of the New Testament and documents what saved, threatened, and changed his life. It is also a story of how Sledge learned to hate and kill–and came to love–his fellow man. This book is also on the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Reading List.

Sledge is one of the main three characters in the HBO series The Pacific.

Available in multiple formats on Amazon