Suggested Reading List for Battalion Commanders

Here is my list of suggested reading for Battalion Commanders in the Army National Guard and Army Reserves.  Most of these books I have read myself and some of the other titles were recommended to me by some of my former Battalion Commander friends.  They are listed in no particular order.

  1. Battalion Commanders at War: U.S. Army Tactical Leadership in the Mediterranean Theater (1942-1943) by Steven Thomas Barry
  2. Challenge of Command by Robert Nye
  3. A Year in Command in Afghanistan: Journal of a United States Army Battalion Commander by Michael Forsyth
  4. The Mask of Command: Alexander the Great, Wellington, Ulysses S. Grant, Hitler and the Nature of Leadership by John Keegan
  5. It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership by Colin Powell
  6. We Were Soldiers Once… and Young: Ia Drang – The Battle That Changed the War in Vietnam by Hal Moore
  7. The Art of Command: Military Leadership from George Washington to Colin Powell by Jeffrey Matthews
  8. Bleeding Talent: How the Military Mismanages Great Leaders and Why It’s Time for a Revolution by T.J. Kane

Of course, this is not an ends all reading list.  But I think my suggested reading list for Battalion Commanders is a good starting point.  I suggest you read these titles BEFORE you take Battalion Command.  Even if you learn just one helpful tidbit from each book, it will be money well spent.  The lessons will definitely help you prepare for Battalion Command.

On the other hand, if you’ve already taken command, I would still buy these books, read them, and add them to your leader’s library.  It’s money well spent.

What are your thoughts on this subject?  Do you have any other titles that you suggest we add to our suggested reading list for Battalion Commanders?  If so, leave a comment and tell us about it, or contact us to provide your suggestions.

Check out my suggested reading list page on my website for other recommended titles.


8 thoughts on “Suggested Reading List for Battalion Commanders”

  1. Candace Ginestar

    Chuck, I can see that I have a lot of reading to do, since I have only read one book on that list. Even though this post is directed at battalion commanders, I think I can benefit from reading these books, also. Thanks for the list!

  2. Colin Powell’s “It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership” is number one as far as I am concerned. He is a true leader down to the core,and he share many gems in chapters that are short and to the point. I particularly like his section entitled “Take Care of Your Soldiers” where he addresses a number of fundamental principles of leadership especially pertinent to commanders, particularly trusting your soldiers and mutual respect.

  3. Good list of books here, Chuck. I’ll be taking command of an armor battalion sometime next year. I’ll make sure I read these books and if I find any other good ones, I’ll send you an email so you can add some more to this list.

  4. Justin Long


    I like that you included Bleeding Talent in there. I have read that book after we talked about it and I think that maybe a few Old School BTN Commanders may think it is hogwash, but there are some very good points to be made and reflected on. I think that any BTN level Officer should read that book. I will have to check out this one written by Colin Powell as well. He always has great insight!

    1. Thanks, Justin.

      Leaders need to realize that “taking care of their people” and “developing their people” is their most important job (other than mission accomplishment). This area gets neglected more often than not, as most leaders think their people should serve them, rather than them serving their followers.


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