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The Marine Corps Professional Reading Program List

All marines are expected to read throughout their time in service. In 1989, the Commandant's list was originated to encourage Marines to read and discuss their readings to enhance learning about their profession of arms. It was meant to be an ever-evolving list. Originally, they book recommendations were divided by enlisted rank, with each rank expected to read a certain number of books each year on the recommended list (and officers to read twice that number). The “Commandant’s Reading List” has evolved to the “U.S. Marine Reading Program.” Below are some of my own favorites from the list:

Commandant's recommended reading for Privates, Privates First Class, Lance Corporals

  • The Bridge at Dong Ha by John Grider Miller
    The real story of a Marine Corps hero in Vietnam.
  • Starship Troopers
    Science Fiction by Robert A. Heinlein
    Paperback, $6.99
    coverJoin the Mobile Infantry and see the Universe! Classic sci-fi tale gives a detailed, realistic look at futuristic war and an incisive view on how a citizen-soldier army works. And in this society, if you haven't served in the military you are not a citizen, since only those who have laid their lives on the line for their country get to have a say in how it is run.
  • A Message to Garcia by Elbert Hubbard
    Just 32 pages long (and priced under $2.00), provides motivating lessons of initiative and loyalty. Inspired by a conversation between the author and his son about the real hero of the Cuban War, a lone officer who simply did the right thing. Written in 1899, proving that basic, core values do not change over time.
  • The United States Marines : A History
    by Edwin Howard Simmons, Charles C. Krulak
    Paperback, 400 pages, list price $19.95
    The third edition of Brig. Gen. Edwin H. Simmons's popular history of the U.S. Marine Corps. It reflects the latest scholarship on events reaching back to the Corps's beginnings in November 1775, when the Second Continental Congress authorized two battalions of American Marines, to 2001. As updated, it includes material on the tumultuous events of the last quarter-century in Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, the Persian Gulf, Bangladesh, Somalia, and Haiti. The book provides a lively chronicle of the Corps's participation in all the nation's wars, from the American Revolution to Desert Storm. Highlights of the work are the Marines' legendary contributions at such places as Bladensburg, Guantanamo, Belleau Wood, Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Iwo Jima, Inchon, Chosin, Hue, and Khe Sanh. While the focus of this history is on the big wars, it never slights events in between, among them the humanitarian missions that have helped define the Corps. Nor does the author neglect the intermittent but never-ending fight for the Corps's survival at home where it faces periodic challenges from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and on occasion, unfriendly presidents. Few writers know the subject as intimately as General Simmons, who writes from firsthand experience in three wars and as the longtime head of the Corps's history division.

Commandant's recommended reading for Corporals and Sergeants

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