Enjoy books that matter.
Things We Read, partnered with The Lightning Press, is launching the Young Leader Series! (See official press release)
- Over the next 6 months, $100,000 worth of SMARTbooks and leader books will be donated to cadets at West Point and ROTC programs nationwide coinciding with key leader engagements throughout the military, civilian and different industry sectors
- Schools and organizations interested in participating should contact firstname.lastname@example.org
- Make a tax-deductible donation to Things We Read, 501(c)3 to help pay for the shipping and handling
Photo copyright © Jayel Aheram
The Servant: A Simple Story About the True Essence of Leadership
Great book on the principles of Servant Leadership and how to influence vs. use power to lead.
The Gifted Boss Revised Edition: How to Find, Create and Keep Great Employees
Great book on how to hire and retain great employees through great leadership.
From Values to Action: The Four Principles of Values-Based Leadership
Leadership is about having a great value system and this book is about the four values all leaders should have and how to translate those to an organization.
The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals
A great book on how to move a strategy to great execution.
A classic on how to use a systematized/process approach to leading change.
T. Boone Pickens
The Reagan Diaries
I had the privilege of knowing President Reagan. I believe he is one of the most effective presidents in American history. We can learn a lot from his leadership and values.
The System: The Glory and Scandal of Big-Time College Football
The System is one of the best books on college sports in recent memory. I’m proud to have my commitment to Oklahoma State and that university profiled in such an objective and informative manner. The reporters took the time and did some great research.
The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power
This is one of the greatest books on global energy ever. I’ve known Dan for years. It’s well researched, and told in an engaging manner.
The First Billion is the Hardest: Reflections on a Life of Comebacks and America’s Energy Future
This book took some time to write. I’m proud of how we structured it. It reflects a lifetime of lessons I’ve learned and practiced. To me, leadership and communication are key. This book helps explain why.
Host, Narrator, Writer, Producer
Mike Rowe is a TV host, writer, narrator, producer, actor and spokesman. His performing career began in 1984, when he faked his way into the Baltimore Opera to get his union card and meet girls, both of which he accomplished during a performance of Rigoletto. His transition to television occurred in 1990 when — to settle a bet — he auditioned for the QVC Shopping Channel and was promptly hired after talking about a pencil for nearly eight minutes. There, he worked the graveyard shift for three years, until he was ultimately fired for making fun of products and belittling viewers. Thanks to QVC, Mike became practiced at the art of talking for long periods without saying anything of substance, a skill that would serve him well as a TV host. Throughout the ’90s, Mike had hundreds of jobs and relished his role as a chronic freelancer with lots of time to loaf around. Then, through a horrible miscalculation, he pitched a three-hour special to the Discovery Channel that ended up resulting in the show “Dirty Jobs.” Viewers liked it and Discovery responded by ordering 39 episodes — a shocking commitment that Mike was contractually obligated to honor. For the first time in his career, Mike went to work with a vengeance.
All shared interests have a way of keeping us from each others throats, but a shared interest in literature goes right to the guts of what makes us civilized.
Any of The Travis McGee Mysteries
Travis McGee is my favorite continuing character of all time. He’s a boat bum, philosopher, veteran, and “salvage expert” who specializes in helping people who have been conned or ripped off in every way imaginable. McDonald proves better than anyone that pulp fiction can also be really great literature. They’re twenty-some titles in this series. Each references a color. Start with The Deep Blue Good by. Read them in order.
A Prayer for Owen Meany
Twenty years ago, I found a dogeared copy that someone had left behind at LAX. I picked it up and started to read it on a flight to Peru. It was the fastest sixteen hours I’ve ever spent on a plane. Great writing, great story, unforgettable character. A few months later, I put it back where I found it. I hope someone else picked it up and did the same.
The Flashman Chronicles are a series of adventures that involve a soldier who serves in the British Army during the Victorian era. With the exception of the titular character, the books are historically accurate, but outrageously fun because Flashman - who narrates all the adventures - is a shameless coward who somehow winds up getting promoted through the ranks because he’s constantly getting and taking the credit for things he didn’t actually do. There’s no more entertaining or politically incorrect way to learn history than through the eyes of Harry Flashman.
Me Talk Pretty One Day
The funniest essays by the funniest writer I know of.
I normally avoid the whole techno-geek, sci-fi genre, especially when it comes in 900 pages, but this book absolutely blew me away. Nazis, code-breaking, computers, bit-coin, data-havens, U-Boats, war heroes, and some very dangerous dentists. It’s a big bite, but if you’re not afraid of a commitment, dig in. It’s a lot of fun.
CEO, Mercedes Benz USA
Team Of Rivals
My favorite book on our most impressive president.
Completed just before his death, this may be the best memoir ever written by one of history’s greatest battle generals.
Army At Dawn
An amazing account of how unprepared we were as a nation to enter WWII! Thanks goodness we were fast learners.
This should be mandatory reading for every US citizen! Incredible cat and mouse account of how George Washington avoided annihilation against the greatest fighting force of the day.
One of the 20th century’s greatest entrepreneurs: he was a tortured genius with a terrible leadership style but managed to accomplish so much!
Co-Author of ‘We Were Soldiers…Once and Young’, Newspaper Correspondent
Joseph Galloway is an American newspaper correspondent and columnist. He is the former Military Affairs consultant for the Knight-Ridder chain of newspapers and was a columnist with McClatchy Newspapers. During the Vietnam War, he often worked alongside the troops he covered and was awarded a Bronze Star for carrying wounded men to safety. Galloway is perhaps best known for his role as a war-time photographer during Vietnam when he accompanied the then LTC Hal Moore of the 7th Calvary Division in a battle that would later become famous, the Battle of la Drang. Galloway and Moore co-authored the book based on the battle, We Were Soldiers Once…and Young, later made into the blockbuster movie.
Street Without Joy
The late Dr. Bernard Fall’s best work on Indochina. I carried this book in my pack in Vietnam to read and re-read and occasionally scare the crap out of myself when we would transit the pass where the Viet Minh ambushed Group Mobile 100 in last days of the French war.
This Kind of War
The best single volume history of the Korean War. Col. Fehrenbach’s work is unflinching and impeccable. I carried this fat volume in my pack in Vietnam as well!
Gates Of Fire
Mr. Pressfield tells the story of the 300 Spartans who held off thousands upon thousands of Persians at the pass….and tells it so vividly that by the end you are ready to sign on as a Spartan yourself!
The Praetorians, The Centurions
Two interlocking volumes that tell the story of the French paras captured at DienBienPhu and their trial by fire at hands of the Viet Minh. Those who survive return to fight in Algeria, using the torture tactics used against them on the Algerian rebels. Ultimately they drift into the plot to assassinate President Charles de Gaulle. Very well written stories in these two books. If they intrigue you see if you can find a lesser known Larteguy book titled Yellow Fever.
Barrack Room Ballads
No reading list for warriors would be complete without a volume of Kipling. I love this one for a short dedication at the front in which Kipling celebrates his years covering the British Indian Army. Kipling’s words illustrate and illuminate my own years covering America’s soldiers and Marines at war: “I have eaten your bread and salt; Drunk your water and wine. The deaths you’ve died I watched beside, and the lives you’ve lived were mine.”