I enjoy learning for learning’s sake. I feel strongly that Army professionals should constantly study.  One of the best ways I have found to supplement reading is through the use of audiobooks. I listen to them while I am driving, running, working out, or just alone doing mindless chores around the house. Just like books, there are good and bad audiobooks. The ones I am always in pursuit of are those that keep you sitting in your car in the driveway because you just want to hear more. I chose the following five (plus one) audiobooks relating to war or warfare not only because of their content, but because of their storytelling excellence and quality of audio performance (it definitely matters who reads the book).

Max Brooks, World War Z

Hands down the best audiobook I have ever listened to. Told through interviews, Brooks takes responses to real emergencies and interconnects them globally in a fictional story about zombies. He often says that you could easily “remove zombies and insert bird flu, ebola, or any global pandemic.” The story’s different interview characters are voiced by different actors—including famous ones like Alan Alda— and with different accents.

Anton Myrer, Once an Eagle

Yes, this military classic is on almost every military reading list. The audiobook is as high-quality as the written version. A timeless work for its lessons on leadership, it also provides an American military history survey from World War I to Vietnam. It is a long book and, as you would imagine, a VERY long audiobook. But the story plot, transitions, and character developments make it well worth the time investment.

Tom Butler-Bowdon, 50 Psychology Classics — Who We Are, How We Think, What We Do: Insight and Inspiration from 50 Key Books (50 Classics)

The military strategist Carl von Clausewitz said, “War is . . . an act of force to compel our enemy to do our will.” Compelling a human to do your will requires a deep understanding of psychology. This audiobook provides fifty of the top theories known about psychology, from Stanley Milgram’s experiment focusing on the conflict between obedience to authority and personal conscience, to the Stanford prison experiment’s study of the human response to captivity—both for the captive and captor.

Laura Hillenbrand, Unbroken

An epic story of resilience. The story is about Olympian Louis Zamperini, who survived forty-seven days on a raft in the Pacific after his bomber crashed, then endured two years of mental and psychological torture in Japanese prison camps. It is not only a story of survival, but also a story of living.

Mosab Hassan Yousef, Son of Hamas

I picked this one up randomly in an audiobook exchange (turn in old ones and get credit for other used ones). This is the memoir of Mosab Hassan Yousef, a Palestinian whose father was areligious leader and founding member of Hamas. Mosab tells the story the story of being arrested and placed in an Israeli prison, becoming an undercover agent for Israel’s internal security, converting to Christianity, and eventually moving to the United States.

John Steakley, Armor

This is my favorite military science fiction audiobook—not for its future military technologies or galactic story, but because of Steakley’s ability to place you in the mind of a future warrior. including his struggle to live with the battles he fought.


Maj. John Spencer is a scholar with the Modern War Institute at the United States Military Academy in West Point, NY. 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. He looks forward to connecting via Twitter @SpencerGuard.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 US Government.