ATA Recommended Reading List

Here at Appalachian Tactical Academy, we believe that the most important component in your survival is your mental fitness. As Tyrion Lannister said, “A mind needs books like a sword needs a whetstone.” Reading is how you hone your mental edge.

I personally own every book listed below. I have read almost all of them – in fact, if I haven’t read one then I tell you that in the book’s description.

I want to be up front with you: I am an Amazon affiliate, which means that if you buy these books by clicking my links below, I get a share of the profits. You still pay the normal price, however. With that said, my integrity and reputation are more important than making a few cents off your purchase. Rest assured that I only link to things that I believe in.


Starship Troopers
by Robert Heinlein

This is my favorite book on this list. If you read no other book, then read this one. It’s not really a survivalist book, but it’s a book about morals, society, sacrifice, duty, and killing alien bugs. It’s pretty much required reading for all of my Marines. READ IT NOW!


One Second After
by William Forstchen

This is a heart-wrenching book about life in America after an EMP attack knocks out the electrical grid. It paints a really dark picture of how things would be. It serves as a cautionary tale, and it’s really good.

One Year After 
by William Forstchen

This is the sequel to One Second After. It illustrates the long-term struggles that recovering post-disaster societies would have to contend with.

Monster Hunter International
by Larry Correia

If you like guns and shooting (I assume you do), then you’ll like this series. If you like nerd stuff like Dungeons & Dragons, then you’ll like this series. If you are like me and you like both those things, then you’ll freakin’ LOVE this series. Written by conservative professional author and professional gun nut Larry Correia, this series is essentially about a private military contract company based out of Alabama that gets paid to kill vampires, werewolves, demons, and all other manner of unearthly forces. This is my all-time favorite novel series for pure entertainment,

Lights Out
by David Crawford

This book has the same hook as One Second After: an EMP attack has knocked out all electronics in the United States. It’s a lot less dark and more action-packed than its counterpart, though. It’s one of my favorites.

299 Days
by Glen Tate

This is actually a 10-book series (you can buy the books one at a time). This one is really interesting because it’s written by a government insider using legit knowledge of how bad things really are. The premise is that the United States goes through a partial collapse brought on mostly by economic ruin. In my opinion, it’s the most realistic and useful survival fiction series out there. I think that this series captures what the collapse will most likely resemble.

Day by Day Armageddon 
by JL Bourne

I know, I know – it’s a zombie apocalypse book. I’m sorry. This one is really good, though, in that the author’s intention behind writing it was to essentially write a survival manual disguised as a novel. I love it.

Patriot Dawn 
by Max Velocity

An outstanding survivalist book about a civil war in America. It follows an insurgent company fighting against tyrannical government forces. It’s basically a tactical manual disguised as a story. Super realistic depictions of small unit tactics.

Day of Wrath
by William Forstchen

This is a short novella about ISIS conducting 50 or so Paris-style attacks in the United States all at the same time. It will make you so mad that you can’t see straight. It’s a short read, and it’s really good.

Leadership & Mindset

Principles of Personal Defense
by Jeff Cooper

Another classic piece by Jeff Cooper. This book is all about the aspects of a combat mindset. Read and absorb its contents.

On Combat
by Dave Grossman

This is a pretty good book about what your mind and body will do when you’re in a life-or-death fight. This book builds on Grossman’s earlier book, On Killing. I honestly think you could just skip his first one and read this one without missing anything.

Warrior Mindset
by Michael Asken

This is a book full of practical exercises on how to keep your mind and psychological reactions under control during stress. It’s basically a sports performance psychology book adapted to people who are getting in gunfights.

Start With Why
by Simon Sinek

Simon Sinek’s classic work on leadership fits in perfectly with my understanding of what Marine Corps leadership is all about: the most important thing for your people to know is why. This book is targeted at the corporate/commercial world, but its lessons are 100% applicable to the military and emergency services. Anyone in charge of a unit should read this book and put its principles into action.

Leadership in the Shadows
by Kyle Lamb

Written by SGM Kyle Lamb, a retired Special Forces soldier and CEO of Viking Tactics. Kyle Lamb is a sharp dude, and I like the stuff he puts out. This book is no different. If you’ve never been exposed to the military’s style of leadership, then read this book to learn about full contact leadership. A must for anybody who is in charge of a tactical unit, corporate outfit, or a family!

Left of Bang
by Patrick Van Horne and Jason A. Riley

I’ve only read part of this book, but I have been taught all the material in it before. This is a book detailing out the Marine Corps’ Combat Hunter program, which is a system designed to enhance your situational awareness. Solid stuff that can save your life. I highly recommend it.

Team of Teams
by Stanley McChrystal

Regardless of my opinion of his politics, General McChrystal clearly knows a thing or two about building cohesive and effective organizations. Read this book to learn from the man who rebuilt the US Special Operations Command how exploiting the ideas of shared consciousness and empowered execution can increase the effectiveness of your unit.

Physical Fitness

Starting Strength
by Mark Rippetoe

This is the place to start if you want to get strong. This is a textbook about strength. In it, Rippetoe explains exactly how to lift for strength. Start here and then once you finish with his plan, move over to Tactical Barbell and Tactical Barbell II.

Tactical Barbell
by K. Black

In Starting Strength, Rippetoe shows you how to build a solid base of strength. In Tactical Barbell, K. Black explains how to keep developing that base for years to come. Start with Rippetoe’s book and then move over to one of the programs listed in this one.

Tactical Barbell II: Conditioning
by K. Black

You honestly might need to start with this one instead of the first Tactical Barbell book. This one is all about how to build an overall physical training plan that incorporates both strength and conditioning. In other words, he gives you the big picture on how to build a comprehensive PT plan centered around weights and cardio. If you were only going to read one book about fitness, this would probably be the one.

Shooting & Gunfighting

The Art of the Rifle
by Jeff Cooper

This is a classic book about riflecraft. Jeff Cooper is the father of modern combat shooting, and he’s an excellent writer as well as a very insightful man. Read this book.

Green Eyes & Black Rifles
by Kyle Lamb

Another book by SGM Kyle Lamb, this is a book about using the AR15 in a fight. To be completely honest, I’ve owned this book for a long time but I’ve still never read it, so I can’t give it my fullest recommendation yet.

Surgical Speed Shooting
by Andy Stanford

This is a pretty good book about how to shoot fast and accurately.

Deadly Force
by Massad Ayoob

This is a great book about the legal aspects of using a gun for self defense. It’s a topic that gets overlooked by most people, but knowing this stuff is really important. You don’t want to survive your gunfight only to find yourself behind bars for the rest of your life.

Small Unit Tactics

by Max Velocity

This is probably the best manual on small unit tactics and patrolling out there right now. Max knows his stuff, and he wrote this book for a civilian audience.

The Reluctant Partisan Volume One 
by John Mosby

This is another great book on small unit tactics written for the civilian crowd. It’s really expensive because it’s independently published, but it’s solid material. Be advised that it makes extensive use of explicit language.


The Reluctant Partisan Volume Two 
by John Mosby

This one focuses more on the support structure and underground activities for the fighters rather than talking about fighting itself. I haven’t read this one yet. Like the first one, it’s pricey and full of explicit language.