High-octane and full of action, military thrillers delve deep into the martial world. In them, heroes and heroines often struggle with choices that challenge their training and beliefs.

Loyalty and morality are tested as crises begin to unfold, and the stakes constantly rise until the characters have no choice but to act.

Best Military Thrillers

Military thrillers have always been popular, thanks to a huge fanbase and prolific authors of the genre. Below is a list of some of the best military thrillers you can devour if you want to read about espionage, strategy, and war.

Some of these are part of long-lived series as well. If a few catch your eye, then you might be up for quite a lot of reading.

1. The Lions of Lucerne by Brad Thor

Someone’s kidnapped the president. His bodyguards are dead, save for one — ex-Navy SEAL Scot Harvath. Suspicious of the abduction, he begins his own investigation.

When suddenly framed for murder, he takes his fight to Switzerland. There, in its icy mountains, is the key to all the secrets — guarded by the most dangerous killers in the world.

2. The Terminal List by Jack Carr

Lieutenant Commander James Reece’s team is killed in an ambush. And when he finally gets home, his family pays the price. Both aren’t acts of war, but the result of a conspiracy from his own government.

Now he’s looking for payback. Using the skills he learned in warfare, he plans to bring down those who took everything from him.

3. American Assassin by Vince Flynn

Two hundred and seventy souls died in a terrorist attack. One of them is Mitch Rapp’s girlfriend and he wants retribution.

Six months of intense training takes him down a brutal path. From Istanbul to Beirut, he and his team leave a trail of bodies. But their enemies are waiting, and the hunters may become the hunted.

4. Killing Floor by Lee Child

Ex-military policeman Jack Reacher drifts from place to place. He visits Margrave, Georgia, and in less than an hour, he is arrested for murder.

But he hasn’t killed anyone—at least, not lately. And in trying to prove his innocence, he finds himself in the middle of a conspiracy that could cost him his life.

5. The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy

Somewhere under the Atlantic lurks the Red October, the Soviet Union’s most cutting-edge submarine, and it’s heading west—Not for war, but to escape.

The Russians want her back, but the Americans have other plans. Now both world powers are playing a high-stakes game of hide-and-seek.

6. Shadow Catcher by James R. Hannibal

Ten years ago, Nick Barron was part of a failed mission that left a B-2 stealth bomber at the bottom of the Persian Gulf. Now he and his team are back to dispose of it for good before anyone else can use its technology.

When an operative long-thought dead suddenly reappears, the team is redirected to China. But the enemies know where they’re going. And their plane, far capable than any other, may just be the prize they want.

7. Black Site by Dalton Fury

Three years ago, Kolt Raynor made a split-second decision in Pakistan that got his team killed, the others captured. Now he’s been given a second chance — one that comes at a steep price.

He’s been asked to return, alone, and bring back his missing men. What he didn’t expect is an al Qaeda plot to destabilize the region. And an unknown entity’s on his trail…

8. The 40 Minute War by Janet and Chris Morris

Incompetence at the highest level, combined with a terrorist attack, results in a nuclear exchange between the US and Russia.

With Washington, D.C. vaporized, it’s up to Marc Beck to come up with a plan to save his country. To save the survivors from the attack, they must get anti-radiation serum all the way from Israel to the White House.

9. A Colder War by Charles Cumming

A top-ranking Iranian military official, an investigative journalist, and a nuclear scientist meet gruesome fates. While seemingly unconnected, all three have been recently recruited by Western intelligence.

Now an MI6 agent is dead. Fearing the worst, MI6 brings in disgraced agent Tom Kell to investigate. But someone’s been leaking secrets, and now Kell’s mission might be sabotaged too.

10. Semper Fi by W.E.B Griffin

The Marine Corps is America’s first line of defense. When the Japanese lead a devastating attack on Pearl Harbor, the marines are called into action.

“Killer” McCoy is stationed in Shanghai when America is dragged into war. With his gift for languages, he is assigned to spy on enemy assets. But as the war drags on, his duties become ever more dangerous.

11. Point of Impact by Stephen Hunter

Bob Lee Swagger was one of the best Marine snipers in Vietnam. And now, twenty years later, all he wants is to leave that legacy behind. But before he leaves for good, he agrees to one last mission.

But the plan is rigged and he is framed for the murder. On the run, he must find those who set him up before they achieve their dark plans.

12. The Kremlin Conspiracy by Joel C. Rosenberg

There’s a growing power in Moscow: a power-hungry president desires to bring Russia back to its former glory. To do so, he plots to invade three former Soviet states and dissolve the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

But doing so might trigger a nuclear war against two world powers. And in the middle of it all is Secret Service agent Marcus Ryker, who may just be the person to prevent an apocalypse.

Why Are War Stories So Popular?

War stories, whether fiction or nonfiction, are widely admired because of their relevance to many aspects of human life. They speak of social and political changes that may lead to more peaceful times while emphasizing that violence is often hard to avoid.

But more than their commentary, these stories have a great emotional effect on most readers. They explore dramatic upheavals that often result in loss — an emotion most people are familiar with. Most of us will lose friends, families, and pets at some point; even intangible things like our homes and memories.

Lastly, these stories serve to remind us of the realities of conflict, and how our differences can breed hate. But ultimately, what these stories often tell us is that while differences may divide us, we can overcome them.