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Books

11 Best Books on Special Forces in 2022 (Explained Why!)

Jamey Muller
Updated: January 19, 2022
7 min read

Often shrouded in mystery because of their covert nature, details of operations of the Special Forces are mainly kept under wraps.

These best-selling books will allow you to take a peek into the exploits of the most highly trained, elite soldiers in the world.

At A Glance: The TOP 3 Books on Special Forces

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Top pick
Eagle Down: The Last Special Forces Fighting the Forever War
Eagle Down

“Eagle Down: The Last Special Forces Fighting the Forever War” by Jessica Donati is a riveting story of U.S. Special Forces on the front lines of the Afghan conflict.

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It will take you on a roller coaster journey to war-ravaged Afghanistan, where the Taliban and Islamic State are advancing to take over the government. Standing in their path is the Special Forces, keeping the country from collapse.

The book does not pull any punches.

Wall Street Journal national-security reporter Donati writes in a brutally honest but profoundly compassionate way. Her account of the Special Forces’ plight and the impossible choices they make resonate with the readers.

She tackles human emotions brilliantly, highlighting the soldiers’ frustrations and fears and the toll on their families as they choose to fight.

By providing a closer look into the lives of the Special Forces, we can see their triumphs, their sacrifices, and the tragedies they face. 

A powerful book of heroism and tragedy, “Eagle Down” is a Special Forces book you cannot afford to miss.

Runner up
Alone at Dawn: Medal of Honor Recipient John Chapman and the Untold Story of the World's Deadliest Special Operations Force
Alone at Dawn

Dan Schilling and Lori Longfritz’s “Alone at Dawn: Medal of Honor Recipient John Chapman and the Untold Story of the World’s Deadliest Special Operations Force” chronicles an extraordinary soldier’s one-man stand during the Afghan War.

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The book tells the true story of John Chapman, the first Air Force warrior to receive America’s Medal of Honor recipient since the Vietnam war. 

A Special Ops Combat Controller sacrificed his life and saved twenty-three of his comrades during the Afghanistan war.

“Alone at Dawn” is the right blend of military history and wartime drama, drawn from firsthand accounts and interviews, along with classified documents and video footage.

Schilling partners with Chapman’s sister to write this New York Times bestseller.

The book is also an insider account of the contributions of Air Force Combat Controllers – a group of exceptional warriors dedicated to keeping America safe and free.

Poignant and evocative, this deserves a spot on your shelf of the best Special Forces books.

Also great
The Operator: Firing the Shots that Killed Osama bin Laden and My Years as a SEAL Team Warrior
The Operator

“The Operator: Firing the Shots that Killed Osama bin Laden and My Years as a SEAL Team Warrior” by Robert O’Neill is a vivid, fast-paced account of a soldier’s 400-mission career.

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The book details O’Neill’s experience as SEAL Team Operator in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Featuring his exploits to rescue Marcus Luttrell and Somali hostage Captain Richard Phillips, and later, to kill terrorist Osama bin Laden, “The Operator” provides a gripping insight into some of the most historic moments in modern American military history.

O’Neill writes a page-turning narrative, masterfully balancing personal, technical, and military aspects; his style is engaging and witty.

He brings harrowing missions and assignments to life using frank and graphic details but in plain language so you will have no trouble understanding.

The book also provides an enlightening take on military special forces, the grueling training process to be a SEAL, and the sacrifices taken to join this elite unit.

Without a doubt, “The Operator” should be high on your list of the best first-person war-related books.

#4
Chosen Soldier: The Making of a Special Forces Warrior
Chosen Soldier

Dick Couch’s “Chosen Soldier: The Making of a Special Forces Warrior” is an in-depth look at what it takes to be a Green Beret, the world’s most versatile band of unconventional warriors.

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The book follows the exploits of a group of soldiers as they endure the physically and mentally arduous Q-Course training. 

Clear and straightforward, it details the Special Forces’ selection process and technical training and the intensive language courses every candidate needs to pass.

You will get a glimpse of how a Green Beret learns to master gathering operational intelligence and negotiating with hostile, local insurgents. From the grueling field exercises to the severely-testing simulated battles, the book will reveal the secret of what it takes to become an elite soldier.

Couch’s long years with the Special Forces lend authority, and unrivaled perspective to the book that writers lacking such credentials cannot obtain. 

“Chosen Soldier” is a must-read for anyone interested in the United States military in general and the Special Forces in particular.

#5
Special Operations Mental Toughness: The Invincible Mindset of Delta Force Operators, Navy SEALs, Army Rangers & Other Elite Warriors!
Special Operations Mental Toughness

“Special Operations Mental Toughness: The Invincible Mindset of Delta Force Operators, Navy SEALs, Army Rangers & Other Elite Warriors!” by Lawrence Colebrooke is your go-to tactical guide on how to become an elite fighter.

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The book is designed to help you acquire a warrior’s mindset and willpower.

It provides a practical application on developing mental toughness, controlling your fear and anxiety, and building up confidence – changing your perspective on various aspects of your personal and professional life.

Other topics covered include:

  • an introduction of Special Operations selection
  • the Navy SEAL seven pillar technique
  • the “whole person” approach to personal development
  • the “deliberate practice” as key to achieving Special Operators excellence

“Special Operations Mental Toughness” also includes true-to-life combat stories and anecdotes, helping emphasize the tactics and techniques Colebrooke presented.

A quick and easy read, it is an excellent resource if you are looking to develop a winning mentality in all areas of life.

#6
Death in the Highlands: The Siege of Special Forces Camp Plei Me
Death in the Highlands

J. Keith Saliba’s “Death in the Highlands: The Siege of Special Forces Camp Plei Me” is a detailed, compelling account of a pivotal battle during the Vietnam War.

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The siege at Plei Me Camp in October of 1965 is considered the real beginning of America’s war in Vietnam. 

In the book, Saliba describes how 12 Green Berets and a handful of Montagnard defenders fought for their lives against an entire regiment of the North Vietnamese Army.

Meticulously documented, it is anchored on archival research and interviews with Camp Plei Me combat veterans from both sides.

Saliba writes in a clear, precise manner, adeptly weaving a gripping story that will put you straight on the battlefield. The book reads like a thriller, but all the events described are accurate.

“Death in the Highlands” is the perfect starting point if you are just beginning to understand Vietnam War.

If you are already a seasoned reader, you may uncover another layer of this violent part of American military history.

#7
Legend: The Incredible Story of Green Beret Sergeant Roy Benavidez's Heroic Mission to Rescue a Special Forces Team Caught Behind Enemy Lines
Legend

“Legend: The Incredible Story of Green Beret Sergeant Roy Benavidez’s Heroic Mission to Rescue a Special Forces Team Caught Behind Enemy Lines” by Eric Blehm details the brave deed of one of the Special Force’s first true heroes.

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The book is the true story of Roy Benavidez, together with the U.S. Army’s 240th Assault Helicopter Company, in his mission to save a group of Special Forces trapped in hostile territory during the Vietnam War. 

Unapologetically honest and realistic, it is based on never-before-published accounts of family members, eye-witnesses, and recently declassified military records. 

The story provides a more detailed take on the combat missions, filling in the gaps and painting a more vivid scenario.

Blehm narrates Benevidez’s life and career, leading to when he was bestowed the Congressional Medal of Honor. 

In doing so, he gives valuable insight into the courage and bravery of the many unsung heroes of the war.

#8
Lions of Kandahar: The Story of a Fight Against All Odds
Lions of Kandahar

Kandahar: The Story of a Fight Against All Odds” is a raw and riveting tale of the Special Forces, told from the frontlines of the war in Afghanistan.

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The book describes the Green Berets in action as they take on the Taliban, hell-bent on taking back control of Afghanistan.

It does not glorify war nor put a spotlight on heroic deeds. Instead, it centers on a strategic battle – an unabridged account of a modern Special Forces mission.

Bradley and Maurer show the magnitude of such undertaking and skillfully explain why a group of exceptional individuals is crucial to the battle. 

The book also provides an inside look at a Special Forces team’s day-to-day operations and, remarkably, the ties they form with the local nationals, dispelling the myth that special ops warriors are invincible supermen.

A veritable page-turner, “Lions of Kandahar” is a must-read for anyone wanting to grasp the harsh realities of the Afghan conflict.

#9
The Mission, the Men, and Me: Lessons from a Former Delta Force Commander
The Mission, the Men, and Me

“The Mission, the Men, and Me: Lessons from a Former Delta Force Commander” by Pete Blaber is a candid narrative of an ex-Delta Force commander and the vital missions he led across the globe.

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Blader and his team executed critical assignments, including the destruction of the most significant unit of Al Qaeda – a feat instrumental to the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq.

In the book, he talks about his long experience in the Special Forces, sharing his intimate knowledge of warfare and the lessons he took with him from the combat zones. 

Using simple and accessible language, Blader shares his ironclad principles of leadership. You will also be privy to the never-before-revealed missions he led.

“The Mission, the Men, and Me” provides an insightful account of what the life of a Delta Force Operator is like, starting from the intense physical and psychological training needed, to the art of dealing with insurgents around the world. 

With personal stories intersperse with chaotic modern warfare, it is a military book undeniably worth your time.

#10
The Elite: The A–Z of Modern Special Operations Forces
The Elite

Leigh Neville’s “The Elite: The A–Z of Modern Special Operations Forces” is your definitive guide to the Special Forces units around the world. 

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The book allows you to peek into the secretive world of modern Special Forces, relieving the most legendary missions in military history, from operation Eagle Claw in Iran to attacks against al Shabaab and Islamic State. 

Neville also talks in detail about the special units from different countries (including the Delta Force and British Special Air Service), key individuals, vehicles, weapons, equipment, and training and exercises. 

“The Elite” will answer your questions on cyber operations, the latest technology sensors, UAVs and unmanned ground systems, and hybrid warfare. 

It is also packed with photographs and illustrations from around the world, some of which are unpublished. 

Neville uses the alphabetized approach to cover the substantive information he included in the book, making it easy to find what you are looking for. 

Comprehensive and readable, “The Elite” is an excellent reference source to the world’s elite Special Forces.

#11
Delta Force: A Memoir by the Founder of the U.S. Military's Most Secretive Special-Operations Unit
Delta Force

“Delta Force: A Memoir by the Founder of the U.S. Military’s Most Secretive Special-Operations Unit” by Charlie A. Beckwith and Donald Knox is an acclaimed story of the Delta Force’s creation, straight from the founder’s perspective.

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A rare insider’s account of America’s most secretive special-ops unit, the book highlights how Col. Beckwith founded Delta Force in the 1970s and the many struggles and obstacles he faced along the way.

Written in the first-person point of view, Beckwith and Knox detail the unit’s origins in Vietnam, its top-secret training grounds in North Carolina, and the missions that made Delta Force Legendary.

You will even get a glimpse of the political workings of the American government, even the political battles happening in Pentagon’s upper levels.

“Delta Force” also delves into the extent to which the special operators are trained and prepared and the meticulous planning involved in every mission.

After reading this memoir, you will find a newfound respect for this extraordinary group of men and women.

Sources:

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Written by
Jamey Muller
I'm the head-writer @ Knowledge Eager (or, in plain English, I'm the guy writing the majority of the content here). Addicted to the stock market, football, sushi and tacos.
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Jamey Muller
I'm the head-writer @ Knowledge Eager (or, in plain English, I'm the guy writing the majority of the content here). Addicted to the stock market, football, sushi and tacos.