Cool military fiction

A few years ago I discovered W.E.B. Griffin’s Brotherhood of War series. I managed to acquire the whole set through various sources, and I’ve been working them into my reading routine ever since.

Brotherhood of War is a loosely connected set of novels that take the reader through a series of mostly self-contained stories. (There is probably some benefit to starting with the first book and working your way through in order. But I’ve skipped around a bit, and I don’t get the feeling that I’ve missed much.)

Each book is thematic: The Lieutenants, The Colonels, etc.. In each one you read about a particular group of characters, who are involved in a major American conflict of the twentieth century. The timeline begins during World War II.

 The book I’m currently reading, The Aviators, is focused on a group of U.S. Army helicopter pilots during the Vietnam War. 

W.E.B. Griffin was the pen name of William Edmund Butterworth III (1929 – 2019). The author served in the U.S. Army during the Allied Occupation of Germany and the Korean War. As a result, this is military fiction written by someone who knew about the military. 

What I especially like about Brotherhood of War, however, is that these are also very human stories. There is plenty of action, to be sure, but there are also personal backstories, and these are often as good as the shoot-’em-up stuff. 

In later years, as Griffin aged, he took on  William Butterworth IV (his son, I assume), as a coauthor. These later books were of uneven quality. But Griffin wrote the Brotherhood of War series when he was very much in his prime, and they’re top-notch novels. I heartily recommend them if you’re looking for military fiction with strong characters. 

Oh…and on that note: These stories take place during the WWII, Korean War, and Vietnam conflicts. During those wars, fighting roles in the U.S. Armed Services were almost exclusively male. So if you’re looking for stories of female leathernecks and fighter pilots, you’ll be disappointed. But the books contain many female characters in non-military roles (usually wives, mothers, and girlfriends.) The ladies don’t do any shooting, but they are by no means one-dimensional characters…as sometimes occurs in novels of this genre.