7 Military Travel Guides That Show The World Through A Soldier’s Eyes
Travel guides can go in more directions. While most of them are aimed at tourists, you will find a different type of approach too – the wrong type of tourism. Military travel guides and memoirs will take you through the less touristy areas of various countries – the type of areas covered in poverty, war, drugs and crime. All in all, here are some solid and touching military guides that will give you a deeper insight into certain parts of the world.
March On, by Michael Embrich
This book is written from an experienced US Navy veteran’s point of view and takes the reader through a plethora of places. This is not always an appealing travel guide, but also a book that tells more about military business, less known places and long forgotten heroes that most people have no clue about. The travel adventure goes over more places spread around the USA, as well as Europe.
The book tells about the author’s interaction with various veterans all over the world. It starts with private officers’ clubs and it moves on to those who were left behind or chose to start new lives in Belgium and Italy. Then, you discover some veterans who decided to retire in Paris, as well as those who ended up in Central and South America. Many of them started new careers or businesses.
The author also takes the reader through veterans and heroes who sacrificed their lives for democracy. These stories are even deeper and can get emotional at times. The book is advertised to be a military travel guide, but it definitely goes further than that and evokes the stories of many professionals who ended up scattered all over the world.
A Field Guide to Gettysburg, by Carol Reardon and Tom Vossler
From many points of view, Gettysburg is a hollow ground. Authors take readers through a quick guide around Gettysburg, but most of the action takes places over the battlefield. Practically, this is a travel guide. But instead of having maps, trips, suggestions and attractions around the park, it adopts a different approach and tells the reader what kind of actions took place in the area.
The guide brings in detailed and accurate descriptions of what happened in Gettysburg. People are not all about the attractions, but they also discover the stories behind them. What happened there? Why did it happen? There are a bunch of stories that can entice every reader out there – some others are nothing but theories or perhaps some explanations of facts.
No matter which address in Gettysburg the authors target, you will also find out who fought there, who commanded the armies, who fell in the area, who lived there and what actually happened. While there are no survivors today – the main battle took place in 1863, there are records and tales from those who actually witnessed or participated in these battles, so descriptions are quite accurate too.
Gurkha, by Alexander Norman and Kailash Limbu
This book comes from someone who has experienced one of the harshest moments of the Afghan campaign. In 2006, Kailash Limbu’s platoon received a mission. The mission was expected to be an easy one and over within 48 hours. The truth is it took more than a month – it was nothing but a police compound in a small town, yet it became a harsh battle that seemed to never end.
Authors talk about those 31 days, as well as what the people had to go through over this time frame. The little army killed around 100 Taliban fighters. However, the main author’s life is also evoked in a beautiful way. He grew up in the Himalayas. He had no electricity. He did not even see a car until he was 15 years old, so there is something to learn from this experience.
This is one of the most detailed military travel guides if you want to learn more about the area, but more importantly, it is a deep incursion into the Gurkha rituals and the harsh training techniques. It is a matter of culture and while these people are still around these days, knowing a bit about their culture and traditions will be a mind opener.
Sniper in Helmand, by James Cartwright
Snipers are extremely rare. There are not too many around, regardless of the army – this is because few soldiers are actually good enough to take such challenges and use their experience in such an efficient manner. For this reason, snipers are often referred to as the elite of the military and they can often alter the profile of a battle by pushing it in the desired direction.
The author is one of the most prolific snipers who had to serve in Afghanistan. This book can be used as a travel guide, but it is not the one you read before your holiday. Instead, you get to discover the Helmand province in Afghanistan, as well as day by day experiences from the main sniper. He only had one role – eliminate as many Taliban fighters as possible.
Furthermore, readers get to discover some of the most sophisticated sniper training techniques out there, as well as first hand action adventures in strikes, ambush fights and the psychological pressure associated with hunting other snipers. While exploring the Helmand region is definitely interesting, the actual human action is what makes the difference in this book.
The Hard Way, by Mark Billingham
To some, this book brings in a brutal reality. To others, it is an inspirational story of life written by a big man with great powers. Finally, some may see it as a different type of travel guide – the military type. This is the type of guide that shows you the exoticism of a certain area, but without making it suitable for a holiday – instead, you get to explore the harsh realities associated with the people around it.
The author left school when he was 11 years old only. He joined the streets and gangs of Birmingham and this is a first introduction to the city. He almost got killed a few times, only to live and discover the British armed forces when he was 16 years old. He saw an opportunity and he grabbed it straight away – this opportunity changed his life and turned him into the man he is today.
The book presents the author’s life as he became one of the most reputable SAS soldiers. It evokes his adventures in numerous war zones around the world. Later on, the reader gets to explore Hollywood, as well as the former SAS soldier’s adventure in British television. This book could be an unusual travel guide, but it is also an inspirational story for those who lack ambition.
Battle Scars, by Jason Fox
Just like many other military travel guides, this book is a real story. Now, many things have actually been changed out of respect. The war zone is not named, so no one really knows where the action takes place – just a matter of security for the British Special Forces. Everything else is related as it happened, out of respect for those who have managed to survive.
The author has been with the SBS for more than 10 years. He has served in various war zones and experienced death first hand. This book tells his story as an elite operator. You get to explore some parts of the world, but without knowing where you are. You get to learn about the dark side of these locations – hostage rescues, escapes, gunfights and so on. But then, it all resumes to one big fight…
The main fight is with yourself. The psychological devastation associated with seeing death everywhere around is what pushed the author out of the military. The book is blatantly honest and can shock you at times. It makes a good guide on courage and bravery. If you ever feel down, this book will put you up there with its motivational stories.
Blood Red Snow, by Günter K. Koschorrek
Most people are not aware of it and this rule has not been mentioned in too many documentaries – German soldiers fighting under Adolf Hitler were not allowed to keep diaries. High rank officers disliked the idea that soldiers might end up losing their notes or diaries – no one wanted those tactics and ideas in enemies’ hands.
Günter K. Koschorrek was a young recruit back then. He decided to break the rules. He wrote down notes, ideas, descriptions of places, happenings and all kinds of harsh adventures over the war. He took notes on any piece of paper. To keep safe from his officers, he used to sew all these notes into the lining of his coat – no one would guess something is there.
His coat was left with his mother on a trip home. However, the diary was lost. Somehow, his coat was still around 40 years later, when it was found again. He found it when he got reunited with his daughter, who was in America at that time. The incredible document was put together and turned into a book – everything through a German soldier’s eyes.
As a short final conclusion, these are some of the most emotional and incredible military travel guides out there, but only for the sole reason that they also describe places that you may not be familiar with. From other points of view, these are some real adventures that show life as it is in an intense war zone.