Major Spencer’s Bookshelf/Image Courtesy of Major John Spencer

Top Five Books

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas S. Kuhn

Strategic Intuition by Douglas McGregor 

Blackhearts by Jim Frederick

Once an Eagle by Anton Myrer

Armor by John Steakley

The One That Shaped Me The Most

Out of all the books I have read, Blackhearts impacted me for the reminder of the lesson it teaches:  War is a human endeavor.  This includes the humans that execute the War.  The book is a gripping detail of what happens in War in the absence of leadership, in the mental struggles of some Soldiers to find solace in something while in War, and the bad things Soldiers can commit on other humans under the name of War.   Officers are the moral compass of their formations and not all Soldiers will do the right thing all of the time.  War is hard, War is ugly, and Officers will be left alone to implement the mission in the name of the United States.  It is a huge burden to carry and the noblest of professions.


Major John Spencer is a scholar with the Modern War Institute at the United States Military Academy in West Point.  A former Ranger Instructor,  he has held the ranks of private to sergeant first class, and lieutenant to major while serving in ranger, airborne, light, and mechanized infantry units during his 23 years as an infantryman. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.