The Air Force Chief of Staff Reading List

Feb. 26, 2019

Gen. Ronald R. Fogleman created the CSAF Professional Reading Program in 1996 to develop a common frame of reference among airmen, including officers, the enlisted force, and civilians. Each Air Force Chief of Staff since then has enhanced and continued the reading program. The current list, developed by Gen. David L. Goldfein, includes videos, TED Talks, podcasts, and blogs as well as books. The list is constantly evolving, and now includes recommendations from CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of the Chief of Staff of the US Air Force’s recommendations. For the full list and an archive of past lists, go to


The Art of Thinking Clearly

by Rolf Dobelli

A practical examination of how to be more aware of your own cognitive biases—and to use that knowledge in your favor.

Turn the Ship Around!

by L. David Marquet

How the Santa Fe skyrocketed from worst to first in the fleet by challenging the US Navy’s traditional leader-follower approach.

Deep Work

by Cal Newport

Develop the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. It’s a skill that allows you to quickly master complicated information and produce better results in less time.


Skunk Works

by Ben R. Rich & Leo Janos

We must get comfortable thinking outside the box and innovating daily … [and] this book sets the tone.

The Inevitable

by Kevin Kelly

An optimistic road map for the future, showing how the coming changes in our lives—from virtual reality in the home to an on-demand economy, to artificial intelligence embedded in everything we manufacture—can be understood.

The Difference

by Scott E. Page

Progress and innovation may depend less on lone thinkers with enormous IQs than on diverse people working together and capitalizing on their individuality. Diversity yields superior outcomes, and Page proves it using his own cutting-edge research.

Space Barons

by Christian Davenport

A compelling narrative that leaves the reader both entertained and well-informed about what the commercial sector is doing in space and how the “Space Barons” are setting the pace for space activities today.


The Second Nuclear Age

by Paul Bracken

As we face rising powers and unstable regimes, understanding and advocacy for our nuclear force by all aimen has never been more important.

Crowded Orbits

by James Moltz

A valuable primer on space policy from an international perspective.

Cyberspace in Peace and War

by Martin C. Libicke

America’s adversaries—from individual actors to nations—will continue to grow new and dangerous cyber capabilities for the foreseeable future as they pursue asymmetric advantages.

Airpower Applied

by John A. Olsen, ed.

The evolution of airpower and its impact on the history of warfare. A critical examination of 29 case studies in which various US-led coalitions and Israeli airpower played significant roles.

The Logic of American Nuclear Strategy

by Matthew Kroenig

US policy has held that possessing more nuclear weapons than necessary for a second-strike capability is illogical. Is it

Escalation and Deterrence

CSIS Report

Evolution of space as a contested domain, the changing threats to US space systems, deterrence theory and its applications to the space domain, and results from an 2016 exercise.


Russia’s Military Revival

by Bettina Renz

An in-depth and comprehensive analysis of Russia’s military revival under Putin’s leadership.

The Impossible State

by Victor Cha

The definitive account of North Korea, its veiled past and uncertain future, from the former director for asian affairs at the National Security Council.

The Accidental Super Power

by Peter Zeihan

In the coming century, America will be challenged across the spectrum of conflict in ways we cannot imagine. We need airmen who can quickly and deliberately synthesize a number of competing theories.

Essence of Decision

by Graham Allison & Phillip Zelikow

One of the most influential political science works written in the post World War II era, the original edition is a unique and fascinating examination of the pivotal event of the Cold War.


Beyond Horizons

by David N. Spires

Space is now a contested warfighting domain. Every airman should understand our rich heritage in space.

The Aviators

by Winston Groom

The saga of three extraordinary aviators—Charles Lindbergh, Eddie Rickenbacker, and Jimmy Doolittle—who redefined heroism.

The Wright Brothers

by David McCullough

The two original airmen who relentlessly pursued flight and overcame countless obstacles and naysayers to realize their dreams.

On China

by Henry Kissinger

A deep, nuanced understanding of China’s history in foreign affairs, its leaders on the global stage, and its ever-growing role on the global security environment.


“Our new Reading List provides a range of professional development opportunities to refocus our thinking on the challenges that this new era brings. We must sharpen our understanding of nuclear weapons, deterrence, great power diplomacy, and future warfighting technologies. Airmen are the strength of the Air Force. I challenge each of you to take deliberate steps toward expanding your understanding of this new national security environment, the threats we will face, and the tools we will need to prevail. Your dedication and commitment to expand your understanding ensures we remain the best Air Force the world has ever seen. FIGHT’S ON!”

David L. Goldfein

General, USAF

Chief of Staff