Recommended Reading

Scholarly books on shelf


The National Defense University Foundation is tapping into the knowledge of our NDUF partners, the National Defense University faculty and students, and our own leadership to share some of our top reading picks about national security, leadership, innovation and more.


Book Reviews


  • The Secret Gate: A True Story of Courage and Sacrifice During the Collapse of Afghanistan by Mitchell Zuckoff

  •  The narrative is irresistible – given the central personalities, the still-hot topic, and the American reader’s desire to understand what happened in Kabul during the last full week of August 2021. The Secret Gate: A True Story of Courage and Sacrifice During the Collapse of Afghanistan doesn’t try to be definitive history. The focus is tighter. Addictive, also. You quickly want to know how the book ends – even though you already know, in general, what happened.

  • Surprise, Kill, Vanish: The Secret History of CIA Paramilitary Armies, Operators, and Assassins -By Annie Jacobsen
  • This breathtaking, and uber-comprehensive, history of CIA covert operations will leave readers wondering—and rightly so—why they’ve never heard of some of what they’ll read here.

In two memoirs: An Army veteran and promising politician confronts his PTSD, and a former
Marine officer confronts the system. 

  • No longer running against himself
    Invisible Storm: A Soldier’s Memoir of Politics and PTSD,” by Jason Kander, Mariner
  • Semper fight
    Crisis of Command: How We Lost Trust and Confidence in America’s Generals and
    ” by Stuart Scheller
  • Managing the Military: The Joint Chiefs of Staff and Civil-Military Relations by Sharon K. Weiner
  • Managing the Military is a pioneering analysis of the power of the chairman of the JCS that sheds new light on civil-military relations in the United States. Using detailed case studies of debates over defense budgets since the end of the Cold War, Sharon K. Weiner examines when and how the JCS chairman opposes civilian defense policy preferences. 
  • Learn How to Lead to Win: 33 Powerful Stories and Leadership Lessons - By Mike Manazir
  • Learn How to Lead to Win will help you crush barriers to your success. Be as bold as a Top Gun fighter pilot, as decisive as the commander of a carrier in a typhoon. Have the courage to push to the edge of the leadership envelope and be an even better leader than you are today.
  • The Fifth Act by Elliot Ackerman
  • Always Faithful by Major Tom Schueman and Zainullah Zaki
  • On the anniversary of the fall of Kabul, two new memoirs, one by a novelist, offer three different perspectives about the chaotic end of the “forever” war.