There are so many good military movies, and a lot of them are based on even better books! Here is a list of the Special Operations books I've read, ranked in order from my favorite to my least favorite. I will say, my "least favorite" is still a good book! If you know of other really good books on military special operations/involving special operations personnel, leave the titles in the comments for everyone else to source!
I've linked all of these books on Amazon if you are interested in purchasing a copy. Just click on the titles or images below.
When I was a Junior and Senior in high school, I was extremely interested in Army Special Operations and was strongly considering joining the military out of high school. Inside Delta Force was a huge motivating factor for me. It's the journey of one of the early recruits after Delta (CAG, The Unit, etc.) was formed. He wrote about his selection process, the training, and the real world missions in the early days of Delta Force. It's an absolutely amazing read. Even though we're about 40 years removed from that period, it's extremely poignant.
This book is written by a retired commander in Delta Force. I guess Delta guys just know how to write good books. He talks about life lessons that he learned from his time in special operations and how they apply to life for everyone. He also talks about some of the missions he was apart of. It's just such a good book overall. Absolutely worth learning from a wise leader.
The author of this book was a very young pathfinder who spent time on insanely dangerous missions in Vietnam. The books is absolutely gripping. I was obsessed with reading more of the story. The number of combat scenarios he encountered was almost unbelievable. He also went to Recondo school, which was a special operations reconnaissance course held during Vietnam, and widely considered one of the most challenging and dangerous schools of it's time. He writes about that experience in this book as well. If I'm not mistaken, the author also served 15 years in the Army Special Forces after his time as a Pathfinder.
If you haven't seen the movie, it's worth seeing. If you have seen the movie, the book is still worth reading. I personally think the movie did a very good job of following the book (and actual events) well...especially when movies are pressed for time in their story telling. The book has greater detail and has a lot of background information on the men who were involved in the infamous international incident. It's awesome to read about these men and their backgrounds and how they all worked together during those 13 hours.
Also a movie, is a masterful account of the first Special Forces ODA's that entered Afghanistan in 2001 after the September 11 attacks. You'll get to see how many logistical, political, geographical, and cultural obstacles these warriors had to navigate in order to drive the Taliban out of Afghanistan. They accomplished a feet, in a very short period of time, that the Russians couldn't accomplish in over a decade.
All of my previous books have been about, and written by, Special Operations Infantry. This book is about Special Operations Pilots. The Night Stalkers are the Army's elite (I can't emphasize how special these pilots are in their capabilities) pilots. The book details their initial formation as a unit (160th SOAR) and the training that made/makes them the most capable pilots on earth. One of the lines in the book that hit home the most to me was, and I'm paraphrasing, "Every pilot fully expected to die in his cockpit." I think that just shows the absolute level of dedication these pilots have to their work.
I admit it, I don't remember as much from this book as a lot of others. It's about the Army Special Forces and it gave more insight into their missions and capabilities. I still think it's worth a read, as it stuck out in my mind as a really good book after finishing it.
Chosen Soldier is a book somewhat unlike any other in the sense that the US Army allowed a retired Navy SEAL (now author) to follow a class of Special Forces candidates through multiple portions of training, including Special Forces Assessment and Selection and the Qualification Course. While many details are obviously omitted for security reasons, this book goes step by step through the process in the early 2000's. Awesome read! Yes, a lot of the information is outdated as things change over the years, but it's still a great glimpse into the world of the Special Forces pipeline.
Sua Sponte is the 75th Ranger Regiment version of Chosen Soldier. The same author documents the process for a soldier going to Ranger Assessment and Selection Program (RASP), the experience during, the training, and life afterwards. If I remember correctly, the author also starts the book with an extensive history of the Army Ranger Regiment. If you're interested in direct action special operations, this book is a great choice. I believe this book was published around 2010 or so.
Written by a retired Navy SEAL, the Heart And The Fist is a man's journey to try and help people throughout the world. The author started out by volunteering for humanitarian aid in some of the most impoverished places in the world. From his time there, he thought he might be able to help in a different way, so he joined the Navy and tried out for the SEALs. He writes about his experience in BUD/S, and his time on SEAL teams as an officer. It's a great read. Personally, I want to see the world become a better place, so reading about someone who set out on that same goal was relatable.
This book is about the (current) deadliest sniper in Ranger Regiment history. The author tells stories of many missions he was on around the 2011-2012 time frame. The tempo for Rangers during that time was INSANE. He tells stories of wild gun fights and weird happenings on night raids. He even speaks of being attached to the Ranger Reconnaissance Unit for a mission at one point.
As I mentioned, if you know of any other really good special operations themed books, share them in the comments for everyone else!