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Insurgency and Terrorism: From Revolution to Apocalypse, Second Edition, Revised 2nd Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-1574881721
ISBN-10: 1574881728
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Editorial Reviews


"Far from the model of a rigid prescriptive text, this book approaches its subject in a way that allows full consideration of complexities in this difficult area. . . .The author provides not only a useful text for studies of political violence but also—and more importantly—a readable guide for security practitioners."

"This paperback is a tour de force of modern insurgency. . . . O'Neill has the capacity to make the reader enter the mind and tactics of insurgents. The book ends with a self-study syllabus that can expand the reader's study of terrorism and insurgencies. O'Neill's book is highly recommended in this current combat environment."

"Seminal . . . a modern 'classic.' Dr. O'Neill's treatise is now required reading in American and British military schools and 'war colleges.' Analytical and insightful, O'Neill compares and contrasts many recent 'insurgencies' and provides a theoretical framework in which to view current and future struggles."

"Required reading that should be in infantrymen’s rucksacks and on the desks of all twenty-first-century national security experts. As the principal military adviser to two CIA task forces, I used this text daily. O’Neill’s second edition addresses the tumultuous beginning of our new century and has direct application on the battlefield as well as in the classroom. To suppress terrorism, to undermine terrorism’s ideological support, and to win the war of ideas, you need some of the better ideas found in this book."

"Bard O’Neill offers an excellent conceptual framework for studying insurgencies and terrorism, underscored with numerous real-world examples. His is the ideal textbook or reference aid for soldiers, analysts, students, and scholars who seek a better understanding of contemporary conflicts."

"Should be on every military professional's reading list and is a must read for anyone deploying to Afghanistan, Iraq, or any potential hotspot around the world. . . . Whether one is able to get one's hands on the first edition or the revised second edition, the results will be the same: a greater appreciation and understanding of the enemy, the battlefield, and what is required to fight and win in the twenty-first century. . . . Without a doubt, Mr. O'Neill's book arms soldiers and leaders with a way to define the threat and develop ways to defeat it."


"Anyone interested in the role of force in international affairs should read Insurgency and Terrorism. Bard O’Neill has educated thousands of our leaders. Now his celebrated framework for analyzing insurgencies is available to a wider audience. This book cries out to be read and studied."

"A gold mine for the library of any serious student of revolutionary warfare. This may well be the most in-depth and scholarly treatise on insurgency and terrorism of the decade."

"Well-organized, clearly written, and solidly thought out."

"A career military man will find it worthwhile to spend some time reading and studying this book."

About the Author

Bard E. O’Neill is professor of international affairs at the National War College, Washington, D.C., where he is also director of Middle East studies and director of studies of insurgency and revolution. His other publication credits include The Energy Crisis and U.S. Foreign Policy and Armed Struggle in Palestine. He lives in Springfield, Virginia.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Potomac Books; 2nd edition (June 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1574881728
  • ISBN-13: 978-1574881721
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #626,043 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By David Southworth VINE VOICE on March 14, 2006
Format: Paperback
Terrorism and Insurgency by Bard E. O'Neill, is an invaluable resource for those interested in understanding insurgency and the relevant factors that lead to its success or failure.

This book appears to be written for a classroom audience (the author in fact provides a proposed semester-length class schedule complete with lesson plans and assigned reading). However, O'Neill also has government analysts and policy makers in mind. Throughout the book, and especially in chapters covering government response and the conclusion, he stresses the value of providing as complete a picture as possible while keeping in mind objectivity and maintaining an unbiased approach to analysis.

O'Neill begins his book by looking at insurgencies and the related fields of terrorism and guerilla warfare. His framework for analysis includes understanding the nature of the insurgency, insurgent strategies, both political and military, understanding the physical as well as human environment, organization, and the role of external support.

In the final chapter, O'Neill lays out a comprehensive lense through which a government analyst could view its adversary and policy makers can create successful counterinsurgency operations. Urging the avoidance of polemics and shortsightedness, O'Neill provides a credible and realistic lense through which to create effective countermeasures.

O'Neill helps to settle many unhelpful arguments and issues for analysts. For example, he rejects the false dichotomy of freedom fighter versus terrorist, as one deals with ends (freedom fighter) and one is a means to get their (terrorism). As such, a freedom fighter can use terrorist tactics to achieve his ends.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By John Matlock on July 26, 2005
Format: Paperback
I had never thought of insurgency and terrorism as having enough material to justify having a textbook on the subject. Then again I didn't realize just how many different insurgencies are going on at any one time. In fact, he concentrates on the contemporary world, only mentioning in passing that Roman Armies also fought insurgents.

Part of a scientific analysis is to classify them into types based on common attributes. By assigning names to these classes, we make it so that we can use these names and immediately know what kinds of programs have worked against them in the past, and of course what have not.

Dr. O'Neill has looked into the Types of Insurgencies, Politics and forms of Warfare, Insurgent Strategies, the Physical Environment, the Human Environment, Types of Popular Support, Organizational Structure, External Support, and Government Response.

Through these classifications, he is, for the first time beginning to draw together a consistent approach to the study of terroism. Perhaps this is the start of a Terrorism Science to go along with Naval Science or Military Science.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Terry Tucker on February 16, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an excellent book. The author is a well known and respected expert of the field. The book begins with an introduction that attempts to level set and baseline definitions and meanings. Although this may appear to be semantics, the differences both subtle and great is important. The book is well organized it is easy to refer to a specific chapter or section in the event you need a quick refresher and or reference. The book is well written, concise and offers a large quantity of foot notes at the end of each chapter. This book is for both the expert and the novice.

Terry Tucker, Adjunct Professor, Military Studies/History University of Maryland and Senior Doctrine Developer SANGMP, Vinnell Arabia
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jorge F. Duran on August 7, 2006
Format: Paperback
I have read the first edition of this book and I found it very useful to understand insurgency and terrorism. Moreover I wish I had read this book when I was in Colombia or in Haiti where we had to deal with insurgencies. In my opinion the book is an important tool for the intelligence analyst because it shows a framework to analyze the complex phenomenon of guerilla and insurgency. It was very valuable for me to learn about the four strategic approaches (conspiratorial - military focus - protracted popular war - and urban warfare)

As I wrote above, I read the first edition, so I don't know if the ideas that I'm going to write about are been included or not. The first one is about the "Legal Warfare" that was developed by the Insurgencies in Colombia and Argentina. It consists in accused soldiers of violations of human's rights. On almost every occasion they were false accusations. Therefore, they were judged and condemned by the civil authorities. However, nobody accused the terrorists of human right violations. The last one is about the insurgency that is developed from a defeated army. This is the case of what Col Volckmann said in his book "We remained" about the resistance in Philippines in World War II.

In conclusion, the book is brilliantly written and is very useful to understand and defeat insurgencies.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By M. Capriz on September 20, 2008
Format: Paperback
Everyone, at some time or another, looks for a magic wand, for that perfect solution to a problem. In the last few years, since the end of the cold war and of our comfortable belief that conflict was something that happened between two superpowers, by proxy in far, distant lands, we have had to wake up to the reality of a transnational insurgency that has the power to affect us wherever we are, be it in a commercial building in New York, a hotel in Jakarta, a train station in Madrid or a bus in London.

Since Francis Fukuyama's optimistic "The end of history" (as premature a title as ever has been written), a number of books have been published that analyze small wars, as these are now at the forefront of the news. Reading these books one hopes to find an answer to the new phenomenon of an apparently religiously driven discontent that is spanning two continents (Africa and Asia) and has actively engaged proponents in another two (America and Europe).

Bard O'Neill's "Insurgency and Terrorism", published by Potomac Books in 2005, is a well-written analysis of how and why insurgencies develop. Does it give readers an immediate understanding of how to deal with the Al Qaeda's new threat of an international Islamic insurgency? Does it give us the magic wand we are seeking in a flash of inspiration? Unfortunately no. But the problem is that there are no easy solutions to the incidents of terrorism we are facing today. It is disingenuous and fallacious of Governments to propose and believe in easy solutions to this problem, as "Mission Accomplished" all to painfully has shown.

It does however pay to analyze carefully the situation we are dealing with in it proper (and several) contexts. And this O'Neill does reasonably well.
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