WQW’s CEO Book List - Warriors & Quiet Waters
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WQW’s CEO Book List

Books that Inspire: Recommendations by Brian Gilman, Col, USMC (Ret)

Warriors & Quiet Waters asked CEO Brian Gilman, Col, USMC (Retired) to share his favorite books in three different categories: Leadership, Outdoor Immersion, and Fiction. In addition, Brian shared his thoughts on the benefits of reading.

General James Mattis wrote in his book Call Sign Chaos, “Reading is an honor and a gift from a warrior or a historian who — a decade or a thousand decades ago — set aside time to write. He distilled a lifetime of campaigning in order to have a ‘conversation’ with you… Reading sheds light on the dark path ahead.”

I have always ascribed to General Mattis’s guidance. I believe that reading is one of the easiest, most effective ways to broaden your perspective, learn, and grow. When I see a book I’m interested in, I don’t hesitate to buy it because I know it will be worth every penny. I know that I will learn something from it.

Reading for an hour every day, early in the morning before the rest of my family rises, is part of my daily routine.

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Here are nine books that I highly recommend to the Warriors & Quiet Waters community:

Leadership books

Leadership Books

1. Legacy, by James Kerr 

In Legacy, best-selling author James Kerr goes deep into the heart of the world's most successful sporting team, the legendary All Blacks of New Zealand, to reveal 15 powerful and practical lessons for leadership and business.

2. My Share of the Task, by General Stanley McChrystal

In this illuminating New York Times bestseller, McChrystal frankly explores the major episodes and controversies of his career. He describes the many outstanding leaders he served with and the handful of bad leaders he learned not to emulate. And he paints a vivid portrait of how the military establishment turned itself, in one generation, into the adaptive, resilient force that would soon be tested in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the wider War on Terror.

3. Good to Great, by Jim Collins

Using tough benchmarks, Collins and his research team identified a set of elite companies that made the leap to great results and sustained those results for at least fifteen years. Over five years, the team analyzed the histories of all twenty-eight companies in the study. After sifting through mountains of data and thousands of pages of interviews, Collins and his crew discovered the key determinants of greatness -- — why some companies make the leap and others don't.

MT books

Montana & Outdoor Immersion

1. The Comfort Crisis, by Michael Easter

In this gripping investigation, award-winning journalist Michael Easter seeks out off-the-grid visionaries, disruptive genius researchers, and mind-body conditioning trailblazers who are unlocking the life-enhancing secrets of a counterintuitive solution: discomfort.

2. The Nature Fix, by Florence Williams

From forest trails in Korea, to islands in Finland, to eucalyptus groves in California, Florence Williams investigates the science behind nature’s positive effects on the brain. Delving into brand-new research, she uncovers the powers of the natural world to improve health, promote reflection and innovation, and strengthen our relationships. 

3. Empire of Shadows, by George Black

Empire of Shadows is the epic story of the conquest of Yellowstone, a landscape uninhabited, inaccessible and shrouded in myth in the aftermath of the Civil War. In a radical reinterpretation of the nineteenth century West, George Black casts Yellowstone's creation as the culmination of three interwoven strands of history - — the passion for exploration, the violence of the Indian Wars, and the "civilizing" of the frontier - — and charts its course through the lives of those who sought to lay bare its mysteries.



1. The Dog Stars, by Peter Heller

Hig's wife is gone, his friends are dead, and he lives in the hangar of a small abandoned airport with his dog, Jasper, and a mercurial, gun-toting misanthrope named Bangley.

But when a random transmission beams through the radio of his 1956 Cessna, the voice ignites a hope deep inside him that a better life exists outside their tightly controlled perimeter. Risking everything, he flies past his point of no return and follows its static-broken trail, only to find something that is both better and worse than anything he could ever hope for.

2. English Creek – The Montana Trilogy, by Ivan Doig

The witty and haunting narration, a masterpiece of vernacular in the tradition of Twain, follows the events of the Two Medicine country's summer: the tide of sheep moving into the high country, the capering Fourth of July rodeo and community dance, and an end-of-August forest fire high in the Rockies that brings the book, as well as the McCaskill family's struggle within itself, to a stunning climax. It is a season of escapade as well as drama, during which fourteen-year-old Jick comes of age.

3. Gates of Fire, by Stephen Pressfield

Thousands of years ago, Herodotus and Plutarch immortalized Spartan society in their histories; but today, little is left of the ancient city or the social structure of this momentous culture. One of the few antiquarian marks of the civilization that has survived lies scores of miles away from Sparta, at a narrow Greek mountain pass called Thermopylae. It was there that three hundred of Sparta's finest warriors held back the invading millions of the Persian empire and valiantly gave their lives in the selfless service of democracy and freedom. A simple engraved stone marks their burial ground.

Inspired by this stone and intrigued by the lore of Sparta, author Steven Pressfield has brilliantly combined scholarship with storytelling. Narrated by the sole survivor of the epic battle--a squire in the Spartan heavy infantry--Gates of Fire is a mesmerizing depiction of one man's indoctrination into the Spartan way of life and death, and of the legendary men and women who gave the culture an immortal gravity.