In this post, I want to share my list of the top military fiction authors of all time. These are writers who write and sell millions 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 officer myself, there is just something about military fiction that pulls me in and keeps me entertained.
Top 5 Military Fiction Authors (and Writers) of All Time
This list is subjective. It’s just my opinion. We can agree to disagree. In fact, if you don’t like my rankings, feel free to leave a comment below at the end of this post.
# 5: Harold Coyle
Harold 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.
# 4: Dale Brown
Dale Brown 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.
Dale Brown is the New York Times bestselling author of numerous books, from Flight of the Old Dog (1987) to, most recently, Eagle Station (2020). A former U.S. Air Force captain, he can often be found flying his own plane in the skies of the United States. He lives near Lake Tahoe, Nevada. ~ Harper Collins
# 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.
Bernard Cornwell OBE (born 23 February 1944) is an English-American author of historical novels and a history of the Waterloo Campaign. He is best known for his novels about Napoleonic Wars rifleman Richard Sharpe. He has also written The Saxon Stories, a series of 13 novels about King Alfred and the making of England.
He has written historical novels primarily based on English history, in five series, and one series of contemporary thriller novels. A feature of his historical novels is an end note on how they match or differ from history, and what one might see at the modern sites of the events described. He wrote a nonfiction book on the battle of Waterloo, in addition to the fictional story of the famous battle in the Sharpe series. ~ Wikipedia
# 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 popular 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.
Thirty years ago Tom Clancy was a Maryland insurance broker with a passion for naval history. Years before, he had been an English major at Baltimore’s Loyola College and had always dreamed of writing a novel. His first effort, The Hunt for Red October, sold briskly as a result of rave reviews, then catapulted onto the New York Times bestseller list after President Reagan pronounced it “the perfect yarn.” From that day forward, Clancy established himself as an undisputed master at blending exceptional realism and authenticity, intricate plotting, and razor-sharp suspense. He passed away in October 2013. ~ Tom Clancy website
# 1: W.E.B. Griffin
Author of more than 130 books in six different series, I had to place W.E.B. Griffin at the # 1 spot on my list of the top military fiction authors. 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.
Mr. Griffin is a member of the Special Operations Association, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion, the Army Aviation Association, the Armor Association, and the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) Society.
He was the 1991 recipient of the Brigadier General Robert L. Dening Memorial Distinguished Service Award of the U.S. Marine Corps Combat Correspondents Association, and the August 1999 recipient of the Veterans of Foreign Wars News Media Award, presented at the 100th National Convention in Kansas City.
He has been vested into the Order of St. George of the U.S. Armor Association, and the Order of St. Andrew of the U.S. Army Aviation Association, and been awarded Honorary Doctoral degrees by Norwich University, the nation’s first and oldest private military college, and by Troy State University (Ala.). He was the graduation dinner speaker for the class of 1988 at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
He has been awarded honorary membership in the Special Forces Association, the Marine Corps Combat Correspondents Association, the Marine Raiders Association, and the U.S. Army Otter & Caribou Association. In January 2003, he was made a life member of the Police Chiefs Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania, Southern New Jersey, and the State of Delaware. ~ WEB Griffin website
Honorable Mention: Robert Heinlein, Nelson Demille, Jack Higgins and Larry Bond.
In summary, these are my top five military fiction authors of all time, as I see it. 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. Who is your favorite military fiction author? What are some of your favorite military fiction books of all time? Leave a comment below to share your thoughts.
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10 thoughts on “Top 5 Military Fiction Authors (and Writers) of All Time”
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.
The Hunt for the Red October is such a great book!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
Check out on or two military fiction books and see if you like them. If you don’t enjoy them you can always go back to romance books.