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Last year I published an article reviewing my favorite fiction books. It was popular, and you guys left comments with even more good book recommendations. That makes sense – men who read blogs also like reading books! But since then, some bros have asked about my favorite non-fiction.
So, here goes…
The most badass NON-FICTION books ever written – listed in no particular order.
Ancient Chinese military strategy. Learn how to win battles through wisdom, decisive action, deception, and strong leadership. Broken down into easy-to-remember lessons. For example: 1) Know yourself 2) Know your enemy 3) Only fight battles you will win. Popular with generations of warriors, businessmen, and politicians.
Peer into the mind of the greatest Samurai who ever lived. Musashi killed over 60 men in sword-fights. By the end of his career, he was so good with a real blade that his fights were un-sporting. So he started using a wooden practice sword to kill opponents armed with real weapons. Combines ancient martial technique with lessons on crushing enemies, overcoming conflict, and self-mastery.
Written in the 6th century, B.C., this ancient work describes the philosophy of Taoism, which later became the foundation for the Taoist religion. Exploring human nature and behavior, this essential guide will help you understand our world and live a better life.
Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson and Robert Greene joined forces to create this book on leadership and success. I didn’t agree with the entire premise – it’s a stretch equating 50 Cent with Napoleon. And since this book came out, 50 Cent went bankrupt. But still a valuable read, with solid lessons on beating fear, developing mental toughness, and honing your street smarts.
A complete history of the greatest Empire that ever existed. Explore the lives of ordinary Roman citizens and Senators. Do battle with Gladiators and the Legions. Understand near-mythical men like Caesar, Pompey, Marc Antony, Nero, and Claudius. Based on a BBC documentary, this book is expansive and detailed. But it’s written like a novel, so it’s also entertaining and easy to read.
Probably the most important document ever written. Not exactly a book, more like a pamphlet. Learn the founding principles of the original Republic, as intended by the Founding Fathers. Most versions also include the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence, which are also worth reading.
This was the sales letter for the U.S. Constitution. Published as a series of anonymous essays in Colonial newspapers before ratification. The Constitution was not a sure thing yet. So these three intellectual giants joined their mental energy, hoping to persuade others to their way of thinking. It worked. Difficult to read since it’s written in Colonial English, best digested in small chunks.
A famous British author and intellectual tries Peyote in Los Angeles during the 1950’s, then writes about it. He does it the smart way – alone, but with two trusted sober friends as chaperones. To enhance his experience, the pair escort him all over L.A. Great read for intelligent people who are into psychedelics. Interesting fact: Jim Morrison named his band after reading this book.
Medieval Italian diplomat describes how to dominate the brutal game of politics. Shows how to win in the real world, at any cost. His ruthless techniques mostly ignore traditional morality. This book is where the word “Machiavellian” comes from, also known as the third pillar of the ‘Dark Triad.’
General Julius Caesar describes his conquest of Gaul (modern-day France). Interesting fact: Caesar built the first bridges across the Rhine when he invaded Germania. He could have used boats. But he insisted his Legions build bridges. Why? Caesar felt that boat travel was beneath him. Then he destroyed the bridges after re-crossing, once his army finished.
This is the best war book ever written. Amazingly brave U.S. Marine fights the Imperial Japanese Army in the Pacific during World War II. Sledge is infantry, a mortar man. So he experiences unfathomable violence up close in savage battles on Peleliu and Okinawa. Against all odds (literally) he survives the entire conflict without a scratch. I did a full review of it here.
A young French aristocrat visits America during 1830’s. After roaming the States for a few years, he wrote about what he saw. de Tocqueville is observant, intelligent, and objective. So his book is a fascinating window into pre-Civil War American society. Explores U.S. culture, slavery, women, and the North-South rivalry. Examines the relationship between the three dominant races at that time, Whites, Blacks, and Native Americans.
The famous author took a road trip across America with his black poodle, Charley, during the 1960’s. Their V-6 Ford Truck, complete with camper shell, and fully equipped so they could live inside. This is a book about travel, wander-lust and hitting the road. But it’s also part love letter. Steinbeck clearly has affection for his native country, and it shows.
The definitive guide for free-thinking and freedom-loving people. This book will blow your mind and help you see the world in a whole new way. Some of the advice is kinda shocking, and best discarded. But overall, the advice here is positive, actionable, and useful. Looking to escape from your ‘box?’ This book will show you how.
15) The Holy Bible
Regardless of your faith, this is one of the most influential books on the planet. Some parts are beautiful poetry (Psalms), some parts are incredibly boring (Chronicles 1-9). But if you can get through it, you’ll have a better understanding of what motivates followers of the most popular religion on Earth.
Follow Allied soldiers as they invade Nazi-occupied France during World War II. Most war books cover the entire war. But this book is narrowly focused. It’s about D-Day only, covering both the famous beach invasion and the lesser-known paratrooper assault. There’s no shortage of subject matter though, with stories from various soldiers who fought on the ground.
“In all my dreams, before my helpless sight, He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.” Warrior-Poet Wilfred Owen was an English soldier who fought Germans in the trenches of World War I. He died in battle one week before the conflict ended. But his spirit lives on in this collection based on his combat experience.
‘Dutch’ Charley Duane was a hell-raising Irish prize-fighter, bar owner, and machine politician. Looking to profit from the new California Gold Rush, Duane moved from New York City to San Francisco in the 1840’s. But his brutal ways drew attention, ending in all-out war between Dutch and powerful Vigilante groups.
My début book. This valuable no-bullshit sex guide will show you how to bang women like a champion. Nervous about sex? Or just want some new tricks? Got you covered. It’s got tons of advice, both basic AND advanced techniques. And it’s been updated with full-color illustrations, so you can get straight to the good stuff!
Learn the real story behind one of America’s most polarizing historical figures. X began his career as a common Harlem street-hustler. By the time he was killed, he’d morphed into a world-famous Civil Rights leader, his power rivaled only by Dr. Martin Luther King.
Some love Objectivism. Others say it’s the work of the devil. Either way, no denying that Rand is influential. This compact book summarizes her Objectivist philosophy in a few short essays. It’s basically the same info that’s in Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead. But this one’s easier to read.
We live in a dangerous world. This book will teach you how to survive. Broken down into short illustrated chapters. Each one shows you a new skill, technique, product, or tool useful for survival. A few of the things described here are not useful to the average person (like how to steal a car). But in general this book has solid advice, a great resource for someone who wants to be harder to kill.
A legendary copywriter spends his time in Federal Prison writing valuable life-lesson letters to his young son. Those personal letters become this book. Essential reading for copywriters or anyone who wants to improve their writing. But also great for any man who’s interested in general masculine wisdom.
Trump is arguably the most famous man on the planet. And as of this writing, it’s looking more and more likely that he’ll be President. Love him or hate him, you can’t deny that he’s an interesting man. Want to understand Trump’s mindset, see what motivates him? Read this book.
Think you know Pablo Escobar? Think again. Learn how Escobar and the Medellin Cartel came to power, terrorized a country, and then lost it all. Interesting facts: At its peak, the Medellin Cartel was earning around $420 million profit per week. And Escobar almost never touched cocaine, but he smoked marijuana all day every day.
Before Zimbabwe, the all-white RLI fought to keep Rhodesia free from African Communist armies infiltrating from neighboring countries. And they were highly successful. Using light helicopters, small infantry teams, and guerrilla warfare, the RLI held a larger force at bay for many years. The kill ratios were so lopsided that even today, militaries still study their methods.
The story of America’s greatest pimp. Learn how to handle women from the source, the men who codified modern-day ‘game.’ Degenerate. But also compelling and hard to put down. It’s a personal memoir, yes. But Slim is smart and observant, so the book also gives a clear window into pre-World War II America. Full review here.
Mitnick is a computer hacker who went to prison for his crimes. Once he got out, he began using his skills for good, working as a security consultant. So this book shows you both sides. It describes how to gain illicit access to information, how to steal and deceive. But it also outlines defending against those things, so you avoid being a victim.
America’s most under-rated Statesman, namesake of the largest city in Texas. Some consider Houston, not Austin, to be the real father of the Lone Star State. A complex man, he was a proud Southerner who was passionately anti-Confederacy. A Unionist, Houston thought secession was insanely dangerous, and would end with the South in ruins. They should have listened.
The story of Quanah Parker and the Comanches, the most powerful Indian Tribe in America. Half-breed Chief Quanah spent the first part of his life killing Texans. But once he realized the inevitable? He quit fighting Whites and retired to the reservation in Oklahoma. He became a well-respected and prosperous member of the community, living peacefully for years before dying of old age.
Wanna understand America? Then you must study Andrew Jackson. General. National Hero. Indian killer. President. Old Hickory was the toughest most influential leader America ever had. His spirit is still extremely strong and very much alive in America today. Huge numbers of Americans are Jacksonian at heart, even if they don’t know the name of their philosophy.
So there you go.
Some of the best non-fiction I’ve ever read!
Did you notice I didn’t review many business or investing books?
That’s because they deserve their own list (coming soon)!
And of course, I’ll also add to this non-fiction list when I find more good stuff.
Have you read any great non-fiction books that I forgot to mention?
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