Top 5 Military Fiction Writers and Authors of All Time

In this post, I want to share my list of the top five military fiction writers and authors of all time.  These are writers who write and sell a lot of military fiction books that are entertaining and educational.  Putting this list together was not an easy task since there are literally hundreds of great authors out there who specialize in military fiction.

I have to be upfront with you and tell you that I love to read.  I’ve been avidly reading non-fiction for years and I’m just starting to branch off into military fiction.  Being a former military guy myself, there is just something about military fiction that pulls me in and keeps me entertained.  That being said, here is my best stab at the list.

# 5 Dale Brown – This guy has 13 best sellers to his name.  Some of his popular series include the Patrick McLanahan Series, Act of War Series and title such as Flight of the Old Dog and Night of the Hawk.  After leaving the Air Force in 1986 (Bomber Pilot) he wrote his first book Flight of the Old Dog.

# 4 Harold Coyle – He is an author of speculative fiction and war novels. Some of his popular titles include Cat and Mouse, Dead Hand, Bright Star, Until the End and the best seller Team Yankee.  He graduated from the Virginia Military Institute and spent 14 years on Active Duty.

# 3 Bernard Cornwell – He is an English author who is best known for his Sharpe Series, which follows a Soldier, Richard Sharpe, during the Napoleonic War.  This series was later turned into a popular television series.  He also has the popular Warlord Chronicles, The Grail Quest Novels, and The Saxon Stories.  Most of his books are historical fiction novels.

# 2 Tom Clancy – Recently deceased (Oct 1, 2013) Tom Clancy was an amazing writer.  Some of his best titles include The Hunt for the Red October (his first book), Red Storm Rising, Clear and Present Danger, The Sum of All Fears and Rainbow Six.  Many of his books were made into movies.  He grew up in Maryland and sold insurance while he was writing his first book.  The one thing I like most about his writing style is his expertise and technical accuracy.   He was best known for his espionage and military science story-lines.  Even though he is deceased, his legacy will live on for years.

# 1 WEB Griffin – Author of more than 130 books in six different series, I had to place W.E.B. Griffin at the top of my list.  Some  of his popular series include the Brotherhood of War Series, Men at War Series, Badge of Honor Series, Honor Bound Series, and Presidential Agent Series.  After completing his military service following WW2 and the Korean War (former Sergeant) he pursued writing as a full-time career.  His writing style is spot on, filled with Army jargon, with entertaining and humorous stories that absolutely captivate you.  My favorite series of his is the Brotherhood of War series.

Honorable Mention: Robert Heinlein, Nelson Demille, Jack Higgins and Larry Bond.

Final Thoughts

In summary, these are my top five military fiction writers and authors of all time.  Putting this list together was fun and challenging.  If you’ve never checked out these authors before, go to Amazon and order some of their books.  Additionally, I’d love to hear from you.  I don’t expect you to agree with my rankings 100%, so why not tell me what you think?  Who is your favorite military fiction writer of all time?  Leave a comment and let us know.


chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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10 thoughts on “Top 5 Military Fiction Writers and Authors of All Time”

  1. Tom Clancy was such a wonderful writer. (What a loss his death was.) I have never served on a submarine (or anywhere else in the military, for that matter), but the tension and suspense in his Hunt for Red October was unbelievable. I could not put that book down. (The movie wasn’t bad either.)

    I am familiar with Cornwell, also, but have never read anything by Brown or Coyle. I will need to put both of them on my summer reading list. Thanks.

  2. I just had to add a bit more to this commentary. A book that everyone should read is by Jeff Shaara. It is titled Killer Angels. The film Gettysburg was based on it. I also recently read Dead Hand by Harold Coyle and loved it. I highly recommend this great read. For Vietnam coverage, a person would want to check out Gerry Carroll. His books are superb. I believe I need to go pull a book off the shelf now. The reading bug has just hit me.

    1. Candace Ginestar

      We were ‘highly encouraged’ to read our copy of Killer Angels loaned to us at OCS. Since I was in PA for OCS it was entirely appropriate, since our staff ride was at Gettysburg. I thought it was a great book and definitely very well written, and made me appreciate the movie Gettysburg even more.

  3. Of these five, I think Clancy is my favorite. The detail and technical ability shown in his novels are second to none. As a world history buff, I am a huge fan of Patrick O’Brian (Master and Commander). His Master and Commander series was inspiration for the Russel Crowe film Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (LOVED IT!!). Believed to be special Ops, O’Brian wrote with a realistic style that was technically accurate of the 19th century.

    1. Candace Ginestar

      Thanks for the suggestion, I haven’t read anything by O’Brian. I am always looking for new books to enjoy and to put on my kindle! I agree that Clancy is an awesome author and his books are very enjoyable.

  4. As a writer myself with over forty books published, I must say that you have given me an idea Chuck. Hmmm, military fiction, Greg is thinking, I can do that!

    I am a huge Tom Clancy fan. His books keep me enthralled and I can not go to sleep until I finish them.

    What I really love about military fiction is it is usually based on real life scenarios. I love to write fiction using real life as the base also. I believe any military leader can learn from any of these books for that very reason.

    Thank you for the idea Chuck. When I get one published, I will make sure and send you an autographed copy–LOL.

    Great post. Reading makes healthy and strong minds!

    1. Tom Clancy was a great writer. I agree with you that military fiction is great because it’s often based real scenarios. I’m glad you liked the post.

  5. I am also an avid reader and enjoy well-written fiction pieces, but have not expanded my library of military fiction works. But after reading this article and searching some of the mentioned authors, I have decided to take a break from the traditional romance novels and dive into an entertaining military inspired piece.

    I have only heard great things about Tom Clancy and his writings – particularly Hunt for Red October. Personally, I would be absolutely terrified to work on a submarine, but maybe that just stems from the fact that I love what I do and writing is my passion. But I’m thinking that I might just have to try out this book and see what it was like to be a part of the fight and war during the 1980s.

    After reading I will definitely need to watch the movie!

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