The Caine Mutiny, Herman Wouk
Maybe you have to be ex-military for military books to really appeal, but I have to believe that this one would easily cross into the mainstream readership of any civilian bibliophile. As a former sailor myself, The Caine Mutiny was easy to relate to, and the concept of incompetent leadership – and the untouchable dream of maybe actually being able to do something about it – is certainly nothing new to anyone who has ever put on a uniform.
The problem with The Caine Mutiny is that it seems like it’s going to be a totally justifying ride; you see the incompetence – bordering on what appears to be insanity – and you can’t help but smile and nod when comeuppance finally walks in the door. And then, just when you’re ready to close the book in self-righteous completion, Wouk does something really dirty. And as much as you hate it, you know he’s right. I won’t elaborate any more than that; read the book and find out.
(also: Das Boot; Run Silent, Run Deep; The Circle; The Hunt for Red October; Sand in the Wind; Fields of Fire; All Quiet on the Western Front; The Thin Red Line)