Educated at St. Columb's College, he has written more than twenty books about British and Irish military history ranging from the Williamite wars through to the Second World War, with more than 17 books on the latter topic.
Doherty's father, J.J. Doherty, a native of County Tyrone and a British AA Artillery officer, served during World War II, as reportedly did several of Richard's uncles. J.J. Doherty died of cancer, a result of complications from wounds suffered during the war. His mother Anna Coyle, who also died of cancer, came from a nationalist-republican background. His parents married at St. Eugene's Cathedral, Londonderry City. Richard Doherty was a Royal Ulster Constabulary reservist for many years.