The Top 20 Iraq War Books

There have been a wide range of books written about the Iraq War. These books come in both fiction and non fiction. Many of these books also come from the viewpoints of people who were there. Some are soldiers and officers, and others from journalists and correspondents. There are even some books written from the “other side’s” perspective…Iraqi citizens.

I have decided to do a post of the top 20 Iraq War books. I have not read all these books, but I do plan on doing so. Some I have read, but I am using reviews, book sales and such to determine the top 20. You may have one or more that you feel should be on this list. Feel free to leave a comment and tell us the book and why it should be on this list. There is also a link to each book at the bottom of each summary so you can get a copy for yourself.

Ok, now starting at #20. we will tell you the Top 20 Iraq War Books:

#20 Plenty of Time When We Get Home: Love and Recovery in the Aftermath of War

By Kayla Williams

Kayla was a Sergeant with the 101st Airborne Division. Brian McGough was her fellow soldier and friend. On a bad day in October of 2003, Brian was the victim of an IED. Shrapnel entered his head. Sent to Walter Reed hospital, Brian was awarded a Purple Heart and sent back to his duties after recovering physically…but did he recover mentally? Kayla and Brian wed when they were both back stateside, but PTSD came for a visit.

This book is a wake up call for many who have suffered the mental strains of war.

#19 Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

By Ben Fountain

This work of fiction by Ben Fountain is bound to awaken many people about how the heroes of the Iraq War may show a side of smiles and happiness, but inside there are other actions taking place. Come with Billy Lynn and Bravo squad to a Dallas Cowboys football game and see the other side of the Iraq War.

#18 Redeployment

By Phil Klay

Phil has 12 short stories told within this great book from the perspective of soldiers and officers in different positions from the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. While each story is fictional, the possibilities are oh so real.


#17 The Yellow Birds

By Kevin Powers

Here is another work of fiction that has powerful undertones of something that could be so real. Kevin talks about 2 buddies who go through basic training together and to the War in Iraq. One promises to bring the other through this nightmare. The Yellow Birds is a great read.

#16 Thank You For Your Service

By David Finkel

As a staff writer for the Washington Post, David Finkel knows how to research his work to extremes. In this great book, David interviews soldiers and their families to find their deepest thoughts and feelings. 

#15 The Good Soldiers

By David Finkel

In this book by the same author as #16, we find David actually traveled with the United States Army’s 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment on their long deployment to Iraq. During this time, David came close to being killed himself.

What better way to learn about the War in Iraq than the first hand account of approximately 700 soldiers? All your emotions will come to life in this great work.

#14 Dust to Dust: A Memoir

By Benjamin Busch

Benjamin was raised on the standards that no man should for any reason, kill another man. As a Marine sent to the blood filled sands of the Iraq War, he had to quickly, and quietly (or not-so-quietly) rid himself of the standards he was taught as a young man. This true story of a brave Marine who survived Iraq is a must read.

#13 The Long Road Home: A Story of War and Family

By Martha Raddatz

Martha is ABCs Chief White House Correspondent, but she was not always sitting with elite politicians. Martha also spent many days in the Iraq cities with bullets, bombs and IEDs exploding all around her.

Martha writes this book about a very bloody day. It was known as Black Sunday; April 4th of 2004 in Sadr City, Iraq the 1st Cavalry Division had soldiers pinned down as they were being massively attacked by the enemy. It was a long road home for some, and for others, a black bag that covered their bodies. I believe everyone should read this book.

#12 Imperial Life in The Emerald City: Inside Iraq’s Green Zone

By Rajiv Chandrasekaran

Rajiv was the Baghdad correspondent for the Washington Post. In this book about the Iraq War, he delves into the political situation that many people have no idea about. How Paul Bremer and the Coalition Provisional Authority had motives that seemed unreal in a country that had been rocked by war.

I have read this book, and I must tell you that your anger will rise. Mine did.

#11 Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq

By Thomas Ricks

Thomas spent several tours in Iraq as a Washington Post correspondent. He does not pull any punches about how security in Iraq dwindled. Ricks tells it like he saw it. You may not agree with what he has to say, but I will bet that you cannot put the book down.

#10 No True Glory: A Frontline Account of the Battle for Fallujah

By Bing West

The Battle for Fallujah in April of 2003 was fierce and bloody. Bing explains this battle like no one else can, or has. As a Marine who has seen hordes of combat, he delivers the “punch” so readers can feel as if they were in the midst of this Battle in Fallujah. 

#9 The Assassins’ Gate: America In Iraq

By George Packer

George Packer spent 4 tours in Iraq as a reporter for the New Yorker. In this book, George delves deeply in the whys and what fors of the United States getting entangled in a Middle East messy situation. He questions if the Bush administration sent the United States military straight into the Assassins’ Gate.

While I have many disagreements with Packer’s beliefs, I will say that his writing is superb.

#8 American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History

By Chris Kyle, Scott McEwen and Jim DeFelice

Maybe you have seen the movie, but the book goes into much deeper detail. Follow along as Chris Kyle explains how he was able to kill as no other sniper could. I also do recommend seeing the movie. RIP the great Navy Seal Chris Kyle. 

#7 Generation Kill

By Evan Wright

The date was March 20th, 2003, and the 1st Recon Battalion Marines rolled with deadly precision into Iraq. Wright was right there with them. He describes with details that will make you sweat, cry, and gasp as you realize what War truly is. I suggest you get this book, and be prepared not to sleep until you finish it.

#6 My War: Killing Time in Iraq

By Colby Buzzell

Colby was just another wild teen from California who liked his pot and his skateboard, but life was boring…so he joined the Army. In Iraq, Colby operated a machine gun and blogged when he wasn’t shooting Iraqis. But, his blog did not match what the Army felt he should be saying.

#5 The Last True Story I’ll Ever Tell: An Accidental Soldier’s Account of the War in Iraq

By John Crawford

He joined the National Guard just on the thought that he could pay for college and only have to work part time. In late 2002, everything went haywire. Newly married and near graduation, John was being deployed to Iraq. Here is a National Guard soldier’s personal account of War in Iraq. I believe it is a must read for anyone who may think the National Guard will not get sent to war.

#4 Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq

By Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor

The Chief Correspondent for the New York Times and a Marine General write this book that explains in detail the complete process of the War in Iraq and the surprises that key military leaders faced. They had no idea that insurgents could damage plans and strategies like they did. Every military leader should read Cobra II. The lessons are numerous.

#3 In The Company Of Soldiers: A Chronicle of Combat

By Rick Atkinson

Travel with Rick Atkinson, a reporter for the Washington Post, as he travels with the 101st Airborne Division from Fort Campbell, Kentucky to War in Iraq. Much of this book focuses on Major General David Petraeus who led the 101st into Baghdad.

#2 Fives and Twenty-Fives

By Michael Pitre

So he had to repair roads in Iraq. Seems like a boring job, but was it? It could be a deadly job. That is where the 5 and 25 comes in. You will just have to read it to understand what this Marine meant. It will have you taking a whole new look at potholes.

#1 House to House: An Epic Memoir of War

By Sergeant David Bellavia and John Bruning

Sgt Bellavia lead 3rd Platoon, Alpha Company from house to house in search of insurgents, weapons and hell. He found some of each often. As a matter of fact, he earned a Silver Star, a Bronze Star and has been recommended for a Distinguished Service Cross and a Medal of Honor for actions he took in Fallujah.

I highly recommend this book written by an Army hero.

Final Thoughts

These are the top 20 books on the Iraq War. Have you read any of these? Please give your comments and opinions below. Thanks for visiting.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

Suggested Resources
Our Books & Training Courses
Recommended Reading List

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *