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Marine Reading List

Updated on January 9, 2014

Marines are Strong Mentally and Physically

My two sons are Marines and in the past few years I've learned a lot about the Marine Corps and their values. One value is leadership and their leadership training. How do you learn be become a leader? One is to have good leaders above you, another way to learn about great military leaders.

In order for a United States Marine to move into leadership positions they must first prove themselves both physically and mentally.

Independent education is a very important part of the Marine Corp structure and both enlisted and officers can not only increase their cutting scores to achieve promotion, but they can also earn college credits during service. Many Marines leave the Corp with an Associates degree and are well on their way to the Bachelors on the GI Bill.

The books listed below are just a few of the recommended books on the list.

The Marine Corps Create Leaders - They make men out of boys

My son getting his dress blues "squared away"
My son getting his dress blues "squared away"

The struggle for a parent of a Marine recruit is what to get them for Christmas and birthdays their last year. Normally they are seniors in high school and the common theme is gifts for college. But this doesn't work for those deciding to join the Marines and go to boot camp. They can't use their phones, or any electronics.

So I asked his Marine recruiters what I should get me son for Christmas and his suggestion was the following books. The more a Marine is educated the more valuable he is to the Corps. Marines have a higher standard than the other branches of the military, their enlistment ASFAB scores requirements are higher and most promotions are not just based on time and grade, but on merit and effort.

Photo credit:a photo of my son getting fitted with his dress blues >

Required reading for Enlisted Marines

Updated January 2013

According to the January 14th edition of the Marine Times, Commandant Gen. Jim Amos updated the official reading list and there has been some changes. The Commandants Choice is now required reading for all levels of Marines.

Each year, every Marine is required to read three books on their specific rank list. These books are discussed during professional military education sessions at all Marine bases and are recorded on the Marines annual fitness report.

Books can be purchased online, or borrowed at the base library. For a more complete list visit the Marine Corps at the Marine Corps Times website.

Books for Marine Recruits and Poolees

Many Marine recruiters recommend their potential recruits and poolies (sworn in recruits in the "pool" waiting to ship to boot camp) read the following books to learn more about the Marine Corp, understand what is ahead in boot camp, and become motivated for the journey ahead. These books make great birthday or Christmas gifts for your young son or daughter considering a career or a brief stint in the Marines.

Battle Cry
Battle Cry

One of the greatest war stories of all time. This group of young Marines from different walks of life and areas band together during the beginning of World War II

Making the Corps: 10th Anniversary Edition with a New Afterword by the Author
Making the Corps: 10th Anniversary Edition with a New Afterword by the Author

This required reading for recruits follows a platoon through boot camp at Parris Island. A must read for anyone considering joining the Marine Corp. A great gift for a young man or woman thinking of joining the United States Marines.

Corps Values: Everything You Need to Know I Learned In the Marines
Corps Values: Everything You Need to Know I Learned In the Marines

Governor Zell Miller, a well respected leader within Republican and Democrat circles, recounts the powerful lessons he learned in the Marine Corps and how they can be applied to our personal and professional lives.


Marine Commandants Choice Books - Required for all Marines

This list of books is required for all Marines regardless of rank and time of service. You may notice the books come from various time periods in history from the Civil War to even The Roman and Greek time periods. This is because the honor, code, and end goal of a warrior has not changed over time.

We learn from history, as history repeats itself. Human nature has not changed over thousands of years. War is a reality, men fight, men die, men need to make decisions that will affect their troops, their friends, and their fellow soldiers and the rest of their life.

A Message to Garcia
A Message to Garcia

A soldier and a Marine are expected to carry out orders without question, without hesitating. Don't ask how or why. Just do it. A Message to Garcia tells the story of an American soldier who is told to do just that. Deliver a message.

The Warrior Ethos
The Warrior Ethos

A warrior has a code. But so should everyone, a code or ethos by which we live. This book pulls from such sources as Cryus the Great, Herodutus and General George Patton. A read for anyone.

The Red Badge of Courage
The Red Badge of Courage

The Red Badge of Courage is a classic book of bravery, and used to be required in schools. Now it's on the required reading list for Marines.


Reading for Privates Through Corporal (E1-E4)

Below are just a view books on the list. There is probably not one man more highly respected and revered in the Marine Corps than Chesty Puller. He is the most decorated Marine in all history and the recipient of five Navy Crosses, the Distinguised Servce Medal, the Purple Heart and many other medals during his service. Chesty and fought during World War II and Korea.

Marine! The Life of Chesty Puller
Marine! The Life of Chesty Puller

Every Marine reveres the name Chesty Puller. He's a legend in the Marine Corps and this book provides insight on his life and legend.

Gates of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae
Gates of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae

Here the Marine Corp uses ancient civilization to show military might and strategy. Three hundred Spartan soldiers hold off a million Persians in a mountain pass waiting for the Greeks to rally their forces. Sounds like something movies are made from.

Rifleman Dodd
Rifleman Dodd

The reading list includes a wide variety of time periods and this story of a British rifleman who is cut off behind enemy lines during the Napoleonic War is an example how bravery, warfare, and courage do not change over time.

The Marines of Montford Point: America's First Black Marines
The Marines of Montford Point: America's First Black Marines

The Marine Corps was the last Military institution to segregate blacks into their ranks. Between 1942 And 1949 twenty thousand black recruits entered Monford Point and served in WWII. This is their story.


Delayed Entry Program - Chance to Learn More About the Marine Corps

If your son or daughter has announced they want to join the Marine Corps I feel for you. It's not just an education and a journey for them but a journey as a family. You will want to learn as much about the Marine Corps, the traditions, and boot camp as a way of mentally preparing yourself for military life.

Before a young man or woman leaves for boot camp they normally go through a phase called the Delayed Entry Program (DEP) this is an important phase. This is after they commit and sign their recruitment paperwork and they enter the "pool" of future recruits waiting to leave for boot camp, either MCRD San Diego or Parris Island. They are now called Poolees.

My youngest son signed his commitment papers the beginning of his senior year and spent a year as a poolee. During this time he attended weekly Physical Training (PT) at the recruiting office. Physical training was only part of the events, education on the traditions, core values, and what it means to be a Marine was also taught.

Below is a video of a Family Day event at the recruiting center, this gave the poolees and their family's just a taste of what an encounter with a Drill Instructor (DI) would be like.

My son during a Family nite at the recruiting center

Career Level Enlisted - Sergeants and Staff Sergeants (E5-E6)

Eleven books are on the list for the career Marine in the Sergeant position. It would be fair to say if an enlisted Marine obtains the rank of Sergeant he, or she, is looking to pull the full twenty years and will read every book on the list. Only five readings are listed below.

A description and review of the full list can be found on the official Marine Corp website

First to Fight: An Inside View of the U.S. Marine Corps (Bluejacket Books)
First to Fight: An Inside View of the U.S. Marine Corps (Bluejacket Books)

What does it mean to be a US Marine? LtGen Victor "Brute" Krulak (USMC, Ret.) gives an insiders view of battle and the part Marines played in WWII, Korea and Vietnam.

Quartered Safe Out Here: A Harrowing Tale of World War II
Quartered Safe Out Here: A Harrowing Tale of World War II

Who has said teenagers are not responsible or mature enough to shoot a gun, or defend our country? This book is narrated from a 19 years point of view in Burma during WWII. After reading it I dare you to look at our fighting men the same way again.

Soldiers of God: With Islamic Warriors in Afghanistan and Pakistan
Soldiers of God: With Islamic Warriors in Afghanistan and Pakistan

Understanding those we fight, and fight side by side with, in the Middle East is key to success in any operation. Travel journalist Robert Kaplan compares Afghanistan in the early 1980's to what he found twenty years later.

The Declaration of Independence of The United States of America
The Declaration of Independence of The United States of America

The backbone and blue print of the United States of America. Every American should read the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Marines, it's on the required reading list.


Are you Surprised?

My oldest US Marine son
My oldest US Marine son

Did you expect THE USMC would have such academic goals for their active Marines? If you're looking to enter the Marines did

Are you surprised the Marine Corps would require such in depth reading?

See results

As Marine Mom I network, I still live vicariously through my children, although they are adults. I like to share advice on what I've learned and I'm always interested in experiences of others.

Let me Know you were here! - I Love to Hear from Marine Family Members

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    • ThreeQuarters2Day profile imageAUTHOR

      Dawn Romine 

      5 years ago from Nebraska

      @RuralFloridaLiving: Thank you for your comment, glad to be a part of the very proud Marine family

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Very impressive lens. Semper Fi from a family with several generations of Marine heroes.


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