Great Military History Books matched with Great Wargames
Steven Ellis
United States
St Louis Park
Minnesota
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A list of some of my favorite wargames and book matches.
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26. Board Game: Russia Besieged [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:2984]
Andrew C
United States
San Marcos
California
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The Game: Russia Besieged
The Book: When Titans Clashed

Russia Besieged is an essentially an update of the classic RC with more detailed air and production rules and more realistic supply rules. I'm working though my first solo game now and hope to post pics and a review in a week or so. When Titans Clashed (David Glantz and Jonathan House) was written, unusually, with access to Russian archives and from the Russian point of view. A solid entry, but I still prefer Clark's work. Both benefit greatly by having a military atlas close by while reading (West Point version is good, the Times less so).
 
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27. Board Game: Streets of Stalingrad (third edition) [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:2759]
Andrew C
United States
San Marcos
California
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The Game: Streets of Stalingrad
The Book: Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege: 1942-1942

I'll make it a "three-fer" for L2 games with their 3rd edition of a classic. I'm still hunting a copy down but I don't think I'm going too far out on a limb in catagorizing this one as a "great" game. Antony Beevor's work on Stalingrad can rightly take its place beside this gaming classic, as possible the definitive work on the battle which proved the turning point of the entire campaign.
 
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28. Board Game: Rise and Decline of the Third Reich [Average Rating:6.77 Overall Rank:1077]
Phillip White
United States
Birmingham
Alabama
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Game: Rise and Decline of the Third Reich (or Advanced Third Reich, if you prefer)

Book: Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William Shirer

A monumental book that details Hitler's rise from a homeless vagrant to leader of the (for a time) most powerful nation in the world, and the subsequent collapse of his empire. By far my favorite work of history. Reads like a novel.
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29. Board Game: Wolfpack [Average Rating:5.99 Overall Rank:6068]
Mark Aasted
United States
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"Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the the universe." -Albert Einstein
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This is one of those subjects where I’ve read so much on it that it’s hard to share just one good book about it. Here are a few that I recommend:

Hitler's U-Boat War: The Hunters, 1939-1942

Hitler's U-Boat War: The Hunted, 1942-1945

Both are by Clay Blair, great reading but it starts to get depressing when you’re reading and the battle becomes futile for the U-boats yet they keep going out and fewer and fewer return.

A great story to read is:

Grey Wolf, Grey Sea

This book is by E. B. Gasaway. It’s about U-124 which I found to be an enjoyable read thus making U-124 one of my favorite U-boats when given the chance to play a submarine game.

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30. Board Game: Downtown: Air War Over Hanoi, 1965-1972 [Average Rating:7.78 Overall Rank:1224]
Yves Rettel
Luxembourg
Dudelange
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The Game: Downtown, Air War over Vietnam
Higly detailed but very enjoyable recreation of the Raids flown into North Vietnam during the whole war. Very nice rendering of the technological ups and downs and the changes of doctrine. Once you get the grip of it, you just can't stop trying out new Raids.

The Book: Clashes - Air Combat over North Vietnam 1965-1972
Marshall L. Michel

A very comprehensive description of the Air War over North Vietnam between 1965 and 1972. The book is centered on the strike (ground attacks) and CAP (air combat) missions the USAF and the USN flew during the war over North Vietnam to destroy the industrial and military facilities supplying the insurgent guerilla troops in South Vietnam.
These missions, called raids, may be subdivided into 2 major offensives:
Rolling Thunder that lasted from 1965 to 1968 and the Linebacker I & II bombing campaigns in 1972. This is a detailed description of tactics, armament and decisions taken by the military and political rulers of the USA. The author depicts the dogfights without plagiating heroism and describes the shortcomings on all levels without leaving the path of objective journalism.
This book is featuring only one facet of the whole war, but doing it so thouroughly that you can easily transfer conclusions to any operations in Vietnam.
Technological advantage, highly skilled personnel and overwhelming firepower were not used appropriately, in my opinion.
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31. Board Game: Twilight Struggle [Average Rating:8.34 Overall Rank:1]
Jeff Coon
United States
Plano
Texas
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Game: Twilight Struggle
GMT Games

While not techinically a wargame (and not technically a Eurogame), this hybrid abstracts the power struggle between the United States and Soviet Union during the Cold War era. Being a card-driven wargame, several events, places and people of the era are highlighted on each card. I found it fascinating to read up on each of these events and people individually, until that ultimately led me to seek out and read...

Book: The Cold War: A New History
John Lewis Gaddis

Disclaimer: This is the first book of military history that I've ever read. Before playing Twilight Struggle, I had only a trivial interest in WWII history that most men have. It wasn't enough to make me seek out reading material. However, after playing Twilight Struggle I discovered a hunger to read and learn more about the historical events that were tied to the gameplay. My search eventually led me to what I found to be a very broad overview of the Cold War written by John Lewis Gaddis. I found this book to be very accessible to a neophyte like myself. I was particularly fascinated by his early Cold War insights, through WWII and up through Nixon's presidency. I felt the book lost steam in the final few chapters, but was very pleased at the overall presentation. I now have a newfound appreciation for history when I play Twilight Struggle.

* Disclaimer: As I expressed above, I am new to both wargaming (of a sort) and military history. As such, my judge of history books may not be as advanced as some others on this list. However, for someone else with my interest level in the Cold War, I found both the game and the book to be fascinating!
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32. Board Game: Panzer Grenadier: Eastern Front [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:2050]
Jason Fulton
United States
Joliet
Illinois
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Game: Panzer Grenadier

Book: War Without Garlands

An in-depth account of the German invasion of Russia in summer 1941 and the massive Soviet counterattack that ensued the following winter. Combines soldiers' diaries, letters and recollections with expert analysis. Throws new light on the giant encirclement battles on the road to Moscow, including their debilitating effect on German strength. Oversized with over 100 dramatic photos. (courtesy of Amazon)

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33. Board Game: Panzer Grenadier: Beyond Normandy [Average Rating:6.81 Overall Rank:3903]
Jason Fulton
United States
Joliet
Illinois
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Game: Panzer Grenadier Beyond Normandy

Book: Fighting the Invasion: The German Army at D-Day

Leading german generals explain how and why they were unable to defeat the Allied invasion. In their own words corps and divisional commanders recount their preparations to meet and defeat the invaders, and the subsequent ordeal of the landings themselves.

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34. Board Game: Panzer Grenadier: Road to Berlin [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:2555]
Jason Fulton
United States
Joliet
Illinois
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Game: Panzer Grenadier: Road to Berlin

Another stellar reason why Panzer Grenadier is such a great gaming system is its ability to take you everywhere in the war with fluid, fun rules

Book: With Our Backs to Berlin

Based upon interviews with a wide-range of former German Army and SS soldiers, these unique personal episodes vividly depict the extraordinary circumstances of the Third Reich's final days as armies closed in from all sides. LeTissier's interviews link the brutality of combat with the humanity of the desperate battles.

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35. Board Game: Verdun, The Game of Attrition [Average Rating:6.71 Overall Rank:6187]
Iain K
United States
Arvada
Colorado
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Verdun

"A game of attrition", declares the cover*. What could be more fun than simulating a horrible slaughter? I've never understood games based on The Great War, but why people though this would sell, or even be a challenging simulation, completely eludes me.


Im Westen nichts Neues (All Quiet on the Western Front)

IMHO the greatest book ever written on the topic of war. It's easy to read, powerful, and it makes you think. One of only a hand full of books I've read more than 3 times. Banned by Hitler, and deservedly a classic, if you haven't read this book - you should.

I love a good history as much as anyone**, but I'm wary of books that glorify war. Historians tend to sanitize, to present with gleaming bayonets, let's not forget those books that tell the story in a different way


*as if the image of a gas masked soldier caught on barbed wire wasn't enough to sell you on the game

** and I will be hitting the library as a result of this geeklist. Thanks to all contributors!
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36. Board Game: Tunisia [Average Rating:7.74 Overall Rank:1271]
John Mehrholz
United States
Springdale
Arkansas
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Game: Tunisia. Part of the Operational Combat Series from the Gamers (now part of MMP). Covers the Tunisian campaign from November 1942 until May 1943.

Book: "An Army At Dawn" by Rick Atkinson. Covers the war in North Africa from 1942 to 1943 mainly from the US perspective. A great read for anyone interested in the pre-Normandy history of US operations in WWII.
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37. Board Game: Bloody Ridge [Average Rating:6.68 Overall Rank:5002]
 
John Mehrholz
United States
Springdale
Arkansas
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Game: Bloody Ridge. I have to admit that I haven't actually played this game yet, although I do own it. I can recommend the system it's based on though, and I felt it was perfect for the list based on who the author of the book is:

Book: "Bloody Ridge" by Michael S. Smith, who just happens to also be the designer of the game. I have read the book and can say that it is a very interesting read on the early battles for Guadalcanal.
 
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38. Board Game: Paths of Glory [Average Rating:8.04 Overall Rank:45]
Jason Matthews
United States
Alexandria
Virginia
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Great Game: Ted Racier's Paths of Glory. Ted is the first guy in a long time, or maybe even ever, to bring us a WWI game that is not only playable, but actually engrossing. All the intrigue, fragility, and yes, fluidity of the war are represented in such a way that you want to know more and more about this conflict.

Great Book: Barbara Tuchman's Guns of August. Yes, there is an AH Game by the name, but it does not meet the limitations of this list. Perhaps one of the greatest books ever written on how wars start, the Guns of August is a superb piece of writing. Since its history, you know how it will all turn out, but I swear you will be turning the pages like it was some kind of who dunnit. Either one of these works puts me in the mood for the other.


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39. Board Game: Pax Britannica [Average Rating:6.65 Overall Rank:1833]
Jason Matthews
United States
Alexandria
Virginia
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Great Game: Greg Costikyan's Pax Britannica. This is one of the most ambitious game designs of all time. It seeks to cover all aspects of the era of high imperialism. Geographically, the action extends from Newfoundland to Sarawak. It handled all the major imperialist powers -- and the Italians too. Most significantly, Greg attempted to do so asymetrically. The UK is still the big kid on the block, and the Froggies are still number two. Yet, the game endeavored, through a victory point divisor, to allow all players to win. One of the great thing about the game is that each of the 7 powers plays completely differently as you are confronted to some degree, with the same limitations and opportunities as the original colonial power. It has major flaws; the bookeeping is insane by contemporary standards. Still, this game has not been rivaled in its accomplishments on this fascinating period of history.

Great Book: Thomas Pakenham's Scramble for Africa. While this book does not cover the entire breadth of Pax Britannica, it does at least cover center stage comprehensively. Pakenham's first book covered the Boer War. This broader work shows a keen understanding of the political and diplomatic subtleties and petty jealousies that typified the era. While the text is lengthy, the read is not. A fine popular history.

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40. Board Game: A World at War [Average Rating:7.67 Overall Rank:1887]
Jim Ruddy
Canada
Hamilton
Ontario
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TWaW - A strategigic WWII game. Maybe not the best match for: Len Deighton's 'Blood Tears and Folly'. This book looks at many of the strategic and political aspects of WWII.

Maybe not the best match, but an excellent read, recommended to anyone and everyone who has any historical interest in the political, social, technological and strategic aspects of WWII.
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41. Board Game: The 6 Days of Glory [Average Rating:6.75 Overall Rank:3994]
Alberto M.
Italy
Unspecified
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Wargame: six days of glory. Napoleon's
defence of France (or better of his throne).

Book: 'Napoleon at Bay 1814' by F. Loraine Petre. I consider his works on napoleonic campaigns the most interesting.
 
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42. Board Game: L'Armée du Nord [Average Rating:6.80 Overall Rank:3800]
Alberto M.
Italy
Unspecified
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Wargame: l'armee du nord.
Book: 1815, The Waterloo Campaign: The German Victory : From Waterloo to the Fall of Napoleon by Peter Hofschroer. An interesting study on the campaign and on the prussian perspective of the most debated battle of history.
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43. Board Game: Waterloo [Average Rating:6.28 Overall Rank:8137]
Alberto M.
Italy
Unspecified
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This entry is mainly for italian players.

Wargame: Waterloo by International Team. Very old and obsolete as game, but my first wargame. I cant' forget the days spent playing it.
Book: La battaglia. Storia di Waterloo by Alessandro Barbero. An interesting descriptionof the battle from the soldiers point of view. I reccomend to everybody interested in understanding a napoleonic battle.
 
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44. Board Game: Crusader Rex [Average Rating:7.20 Overall Rank:765]
Elijah Lau
Singapore
Singapore
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Game: Crusader Rex
Book: The New Concise History of the Crusades by Thomas F. Madden

For those unable to afford or are unwilling to work through Steven Runciman's multi-volume epic on the history of the Crusades, Madden's book gives a short but insightful look into this messy part of history. It's even more interesting that Madden is a fellow BGGer (enricodandolo) who wrote a review of Crusader Rex!
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45. Board Game: Imperium Romanum II [Average Rating:6.56 Overall Rank:2161]
Mijjy B
Australia
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The matching book would be "The Fall Of The Roman Empire : The Military Explanation" by Arther Ferrill. Though after reading it, I blame the christians & the emperors subsequently that were called "the Great" & their legacy.

After all, who really did kill Julian the Apostate??
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46. Board Game: Fallschirmjaeger [Average Rating:7.82 Overall Rank:2175]
Thom
Netherlands
030
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This SCS-game is simply great! The battle for Fort Holland, with all its curious events, is very aptly pictured. Certainly one of my favourites (also because I actually live 'on the map' )

The the books that could accompany this game are, sadly for the rest of the world, usually written in dutch. One exception is the translation of LTC Brongers book on the battle of The Hague, conveniently titled 'Battle For The Hague 1940' (Slag om de Residentie). Although biased in the extreme, it is a nice read. A wider view is given in the classic 'Het koninkrijk der Nederlanden in de Tweede Wereldoorlog - deel 3' (The Kingdom of the Netherlands during the WW II), part of the official dutch history of The Netherlands during the war. Although seemingly very official and academic, in fact a blast to read (if you master the dutch tongue, to my knowledge there is no english translation). Lastly, the new standard on this subject is also only written in dutch, called 'Mei 1940' (may 1940), and is a rather hefty tome, lavishly illustrated and a smashing read.
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47. Board Game: Korea: The Forgotten War [Average Rating:8.08 Overall Rank:1691]
Rick McKown
Canada
Spruce Grove
Alberta
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Strongly recommend Clay Blair's "The Forgotten War" for an overview of the first year of the war from the perspective of the US Army officer corps, and, for the campaign details, an excellent resource is the works of Roy Appleman: "South to the Naktong, North to the Yalu", "Disaster in Korea", "Escaping the Trap", "Ridgway Duels for Korea", and "East of Chosin" (a very detailed treatment at regimental level).
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48. Board Game: Gringo! [Average Rating:7.13 Overall Rank:2945]
Tom Volpe
United States
Evanston
Illinois
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The Book: Gone for Soldiers by Jeff Shaara. From the author of "The Last Full Measure". Covers General Winfield Scott's drive towards Mexico City during the Mexican-American war.

The Game: Gringo! and the soon to be released expansion Battles with Gringos by GMT (SneakPeek free download of Gringo! is available from GMT at http://www.gmtgames.com/cwgr/churubusco.html).
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49. Board Game: DAK2 [Average Rating:8.22 Overall Rank:1516]
ER Bickford
United States
Auburn
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The Game DAK2:The War in North Africa from 1940-1942 with the OCS.

The Book: The Battle for North Africa 1940-1943, WGF Jackson
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50. Board Game: Panzerkrieg [Average Rating:6.30 Overall Rank:3826]
Elwyn Darden
United States
Richmond
Virginia
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Panzer Battles by von Mellenthin. There are few better match-ups. The book can help you understand the game, and the game can help you appreciate the book.
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