John Arquilla brings to life the accomplishments of "great captains" in irregular warfare, using comparative history, biography, shrewd policy analysis and an uncommon appreciation for military strategy. The case studies and other analyses show that masters of unconventional warfare share common traits, including steadfastness in the face of adversity, adaptive personalities, and the effective use of "modern" means of warfare suitable for small formations, such as swarming and decentralized command. This book is highly recommended for military professionals, teachers and students of national security policy, and others who are intellectually engaged with the problem of irregular warfare in the past and present. (Stephen J. Cimbala, Pennsylvania State University)
I've read dozens of books on irregular warfare and John Arquilla's Insurgents, Raiders, and Bandits
is among the most fascinating, readable and informative. As long on swashbuckling as it is on military savvy, Insurgents
is a Plutarch's Lives of renegades, cutthroats and outlaws. From brilliant behind-the-lines fighters like Nathan Bedford Forrest, Orde Wingate and T. E. Lawrence to full-scale heroes of national liberation like Josip Broz (Tito) and Vo Nguyen Giap, the unconventional warriors of Mr. Arquilla's narrative demonstrate again and again how outgunned and outnumbered forces can prevail against an overpowering conventional enemy. This is the present, and it's the future. We need to understand it. Mr. Arquilla's important book sets insurgent and irregular warfare within a telling historical context as his narrative unfolds over the centuries from one Bad Boy to the next. Not just for mil/pol addicts, Insurgents
belongs on your shelf and mine. Terrific! (Steven Pressfield, author of Gates of Fire and The Afghan Campaign)
Arquilla, of the Naval Postgraduate School, is internationally recognized as a military historian, a defense analyst, and a security policy consultant. He brings all three skills to bear in this comprehensively researched and accessible treatment of a neglected subject: “the great captains of irregular warfare.” He offers 18 convincing examples, irregular leaders and their successfully unconventional opponents, like George Crook, who took on powerful insurgent Indian leaders. The battles took place in locations ranging from the wilderness frontier of the French and Indian War to contemporary Chechnya. Rather than using a comparative approach, Arquilla establishes each protagonist in a distinct context. Nathanael Greene combined conventional and irregular methods to frustrate a superior British enemy during the American Revolution. Giuseppe Garibaldi mobilized insurgents to put his stamp on an independent Italy. Vo Nguyen Giap, a schoolteacher turned general, excelled at using his adversaries’ strengths against them. Phoolan Devi, the only woman on Arquilla’s list, was a social bandit and accomplished guerrilla who for years eluded India’s soldiers and police. What they and their counterparts shared were resilience in adversity, flexibility in approach, and ruthlessness in execution. Arquilla says that irregular war has a single law: win. The author concludes that irregular leaders can be defeated but victory’s costs and demands are high. (Publishers Weekly
)Insurgents, Raiders, and Bandits
is a great overview of irregular warfare for the student, academic, and lay reader. Arquilla adds to his academic muscle with an enjoyable work that reads less like history and more like an adventure story. (New York Journal of Books
)John Arquilla...presents a fascinating history....More than just a battle study, this book shows how these masters of unconventional warfare shared common characteristics, such as an acute appreciation for strategy and policy, adaptive leadership, and tactical innovation. What these fighters accomplished with small, scattered forces against powerful conventional armies is remarkable. Best are Arquilla’s astute analyses of how convention forces adapted to combat irregular warfare.
)An informative, enjoyable study.
professor of defense analysis at the Naval Postgraduate School and the author of Worst Enemy: The Reluctant Transformation of the American Military
, was recently named one of the world's Top 100 Thinkers by Foreign Policy magazine
. He resides in Monterey, California.