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


2023 Recommended Reading: Leadership, Command, and Ethics

We are kicking off the 2023 Summer Recommended Reading with Suggestions from Brig. Gen Chad T. Manske, USAF (Ret.) Manske served as the 30th Commandant of the National War College. 

  • Trillion Dollar Coach: The Leadership Playbook of Silicon Valley’s Bill Campbell - By Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg and Alan Eagle. 
  • From Eric Schmidt to Steve Jobs and numerous others in the venture capital and technology sector of Silicon Valley with the likes of Apple, Google, Intuit and others—Campbell unleashed inherent potential in these giants making them even better leaders and more caring to their people.
  • Generals and Admirals, Criminals and Crooks: Dishonorable Leadership in the U.S. Military - By Jeffery J. Matthews
  • Noted scholar Jeffrey Matthews (author of the 2019 book Colin Powell: Imperfect Patriot, and others) delves into the criminal and unethical behavior of some of America’s most egregious military generals and admirals.
  • The General and the Genius: Groves and Oppenheimer—The Unlikely Partnership that Built the Atom Bomb - By James Kunetka
  • In this fantastically detailed (from a scientific nuclear standpoint) book about the making of the atom bomb, two unlikely men, nearly opposites in every imaginable way, would lead an effort that would change the course of history forever.
  • Command: The Politics of Military Operations from Korea to Ukraine - By Lawrence Freedman
  • By highlighting the political nature of strategy, Freedman shows that military decision-making cannot be separated from civilian priorities and that commanders must now have the sensibility to navigate politics as well as warfare
  • Hearts Touched with Fire: How Great Leaders are Made - By David Gergen
  • This is a book we desperately need during times in which courageous moral leadership seems lacking. 

2023 Recommended Reading: Military History

2023 Summer Recommended Reading with Brigadier General Chad T. Manske, USAF (Ret.) Continues with a focus on Military History. Brigadier General Manske was the former Commandant of National War College, is a prolific reader, author and publisher of dozens of book reviews and articles, and is the Special Advisor to the NDU Foundation CEO.

  • Crucible of Command:Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee -  The War They Fought, The Peace They Forged
  • Author William Davis created this comprehensive tome that compares and contrasts the upbringing and rise of both Civil War military commanders. In his thoroughly researched book we see the character, ethics, morals, fears and failures of both. Civil War buffs who’ve read this volume will want to add it to their reading list!
  • Gavin at War:The World War II Diary of Lieutenant General James M. Gavin
  • Previously classified materials, documents, letters, and diaries continue surfacing, providing new insights into the events shaping the Greatest Generation. One such diary has recently been published for Lt Gen James M. “Jumpin Jim” Gavin! The youngest major general to command an American division in World War II. Gavin didn’t suffer those around him unprepared for the rigors and privations of war. Many of his contemporaries would rarely go to the lengths he did in this regard, and as a result he was loved by his men. This book is perfect for World War II enthusiasts, military fans, and particularly, for those who revered Gavin as the Father of Airborne!
  • The Inheritance:America’s Military After Two Decades of War
  • 20 years of war and conflict between Afghanistan and Iraq. A reset button doesn’t work here, nor does sulking about the failures of the past and Karlin helps remedy that with her expert analysis and recommendations. An outstanding book in my view.
  • The Declassified Engine:What History Reveals About  America’s Top Secrets
  • Interesting and timely new book about how the classification of our country’s intelligence and secrets work, and the outcomes it’s produced. Power, greed, and negligence are often drivers of this study of power, and the importance of a book like this helps us to see the blind spots in our ways to help preserve our very nation.
  • Rise of the Mavericks: The U.S. Air Force Security Service and the Cold War, 1948 -1979
  • Out of WWII, and capitalizing upon the intelligence techniques and advances, the US was poised to institutionalize its national security system with the establishment of the National Security Act of 1947. One year later the USAFSS was created as a communications intelligence adjunct to capitalize on what was learned during WWII as it would apply to the Cold War. Cold War buffs and historians alike will appreciate this refreshing look at history not previously told!

2023 Recommended Reading: Emerging Technologies and International Relations and Foreign Policy

2023 Summer Recommended Reading wit Brigadier General Chad T. Manske, USAF (Ret.) wraps-up with a focus on Emerging Technologies and International Relations and Foreign Policy. Brigadier General Manske was the former Commandant of National War College, is a prolific reader, author and publisher of dozens of book reviews and articles and is a Special Advisor to the NDU Foundation CEO.

  • Hand-Off: The Foreign Policy George W. Bush Passed to Barack Obama
  • Transitions from one US presidential administration to another have been a mixed bag of both smooth and difficult, yet the one from Bush #43 to Obama is arguably the smoothest ever. Why? This newly-released volume containing many declassified memos details the policies and memoranda from myriad foreign policy and national security topics. Very comprehensive in its review and scope, this volume will be studied for years by historians and presidential scholars alike.
  • Four Battlegrounds: Power in the Age of Artificial Intelligence
  • Deep fakes, bots, synthetic learning and other applications are so realistic that it’s hard to differentiate fact from fiction. This will increasingly be the norm and is problematic when it comes to the weaponization of such tools. This, and other propositions, are well-articulated in Paul Scharre’s new book on AI. Governments would be wise to channel and use these tools to enhance national security as an adjunct to their other tools and resources.