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Invisible Armies: An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare from Ancient Times to the Present [Kindle Edition]

Max Boot
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (130 customer reviews)

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Book Description

“Destined to be the classic account of what may be the oldest . . . hardest form of war.”—John Nagl, Wall Street Journal


Invisible Armies presents an entirely original narrative of warfare, which demonstrates that, far from the exception, loosely organized partisan or guerrilla

warfare has been the dominant form of military conflict throughout history. New York Times best-selling author and military historian Max Boot traces guerrilla

warfare and terrorism from antiquity to the present, narrating nearly thirty centuries of unconventional military conflicts. Filled with dramatic analysis of strategy and tactics, as well as many memorable characters—from Italian nationalist Guiseppe Garibaldi to the “Quiet American,” Edward Lansdale—Invisible Armies is “as readable as a novel” (Michael Korda, Daily Beast) and “a timely reminder to politicians and generals of the hard-earned lessons of history” (Economist).


Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Characterized by stealth, raids, and retreats, irregular warfare is a strategy of the weak against the strong, and has been, according to military-affairs writer Boot, ever since Alexander the Great was stymied in modern Afghanistan. Cataloging unconventional wars by the dozens, Boot considers factors that led to victory or defeat, factors common to rebels, whether motivated by tribal loyalty, nationalism, political ideology, or religious militancy. Ultimately distilling his massive historical survey into several precepts for analyzing insurgency, Boot concludes that a rebellion will most likely succeed if its irregular fighters cooperate with its conventional units; if it receives foreign assistance; and if it produces effective propaganda. Boot cites the American Revolution as a template and, likewise, Garibaldi’s unification of Italy and Ho Chi Minh’s Communist victory in Vietnam. Receiving Boot’s equal attention are strategists who defeated twentieth-century insurgencies in the French and British Empires. Few but specialists know of Louis Lyautey; that his counterinsurgency ideas are ancestral to current U.S. military doctrine illustrates the current-affairs importance of Boot’s presentation, which is impressively researched, astutely synthesized, and eminently readable. --Gilbert Taylor

Review

“[A] comprehensive history of guerrilla warfare, breezily written and chock-full of perceptive insights.... [Boot] has a great feel for details...a mighty impressive achievement, one that should be a bible for policymakers everywhere in the civilized world.” (Steve Forbes - Forbes Magazine)

“A sweeping panorama that ranges over a vast terrain... thoughtful, smart, fluent, with an eye for the good story.” (Mark Mazover - New York Times Book Review, Front Page Review)

“Max Boot has written a landmark book about a perennial and important challenge: guerilla warfare.” (Jon Meacham, author of the Pulitzer Prize–winning American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House)

“A penetrating writer and thinker.” (Wall Street Journal)

“Fascinating. . . . Beginning with the barbarians at the gates of the Roman Empire, a wonderful and valuable historic narrative filled with colorful characters.” (Walter Isaacson)

“[D]estined to be the classic account of what may be the oldest as well as the hardest form of war.” (John Nagl - The Wall Street Journal)

“Max Boot has produced the most definitive and comprehensive work to date on the dominant form of warfare of our times. From the origins of guerrilla warfare to current conflicts the reader travels through the centuries of time understanding the nature and character of unconventional warfare yet because of the power of Boot's narrative and sheer ability to tell a story, the reader can live the experience. A must read for scholars, military and government professionals and a fascinating journey for the general public.” (General (ret.) Jack Keane, former Army Vice Chi)

“This is the definitive treatment of guerrilla warfare through the ages—a tour de force by a preeminent military historian who has advised generals, policymakers and political leaders on the subject.” (Senator John S. McCain)

“Sweeping, meticulous, and exceptionally thoughtful. Max Boot's Invisible Armies is an important, compelling contribution to our understanding of how men make war.” (Rick Atkinson, author of An Army at Dawn and The Day of Battle)

“An expansive nuts-and-bolts historical survey from a keen military mind.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“...[I]mpressively researched, astutely synthesized, and eminently readable.” (Booklist)

“Starred review. A military historian and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, Boot presents a sweeping, well-written, and comprehensively documented history of guerilla war… The result is a compelling narrative and perceptive analysis: a must read in today's world.” (Publishers Weekly)

“The word “magisterial” is bandied about far too freely these days, but in the case of Max Boot’s sweeping and deeply researched history of guerrilla warfare, it proves fair. Somewhere in the first third of Boot’s book, you begin to realize that guerrilla wars (and terrorism and insurgencies) are the way we fight, while the formal set battles of, say, the Napoleonic wars are but an exception.” (Lucas Wittmann - The Daily Beast)

Invisible Armies’ is a magisterial account of insurgency and counterinsurgency across the ages, peppered with fascinating personalities such as Robert the Bruce, Giuseppe Garibaldi, Che Guevara, Edward Lansdale, Osama bin Laden and David Petraeus. Out of narrative emerges cogent analysis: The author offers important insights relevant to any modern power faced with a guerrilla opponent. Hard lessons are, however, delivered with elegant prose. Leaving aside what Invisible Armies teaches us, this is a wonderful read.” (Gerard DeGroot - Washington Post)

“For the historian and journalist Max Boot to use the phrase ‘an epic history’ in the subtitle of his own book implies a magnificent lack of modesty in his own capabilities. The work more than matches the hype…. This pathbreaking book should thus be on the reading list of every NATO officer hoping to defeat an insurgency.” (Andrew Roberts - Commentary)

“Max Boot’s alternative military history is so marvelously readable because every section—and there are many in this epic of 750 pages—is moved along by a vividly pictured zealot, mass murderer, mini-murderer, tactician, partisan, general, king—as well as the weary survivors of battles, wars, massacres, atrocities.” (Manueala Hoelterhoff - Business Week)

“There’s no better guide to both the past and the future than Invisible Armies, the tour de force of a scholar as well as a man who’s seen American adversaries and soldiers at work up close.” (The Weekly Standard)

“Remarkably comprehensive... Boot sustains the reader's interest with lively writing and sharp characterizations.” (Lawrence Freedman - Foreign Affairs)

“In his encyclopedic history of guerrilla warfare, Max Boot, a military analyst at the Council on Foreign Relations, makes a crucial observation: that [guerrilla warfare] has been a far more enduring feature of conflict than many realize… [An] important survey…. Nicely drawn portraits of the leading figures in the insurgents’ pantheon—Giuseppe Garibaldi, T.E. Lawrence, Orde Wingate, Mao Zedong.” (James Blitz - Financial Times)

“Max Boot is an ideal guide to offer such a timely and, in some ways, reassuring history of guerilla warfare.... A considerable achievement that will ensure Invisible Armies remains a valuable scholarly research tool as well as popular history…. Boot is concerned with neither a morality tale nor politics, but in conducting a disinterested examination of a method of war that is still poorly understood, yet increasingly relevant to our own security…. Boot’s formal findings may startle…. [A] magisterial study.” (Victor Davis Hanson - The New Criterion)

“Lively.... A timely reminder to politicians and generals of the hard-earned lessons of history.” (The Economist)

“Boot is an elegant writer …. Invisible Armies is a timely book.” (Mackubin Thomas Owens - National Review)

“Enormous, brilliant, and important...should be required reading in the White House and Pentagon.... Lucid, enlightening, and highly readable.” (Michael Korda - The Daily Beast)

“[B]rilliantly sums up the lessons of the centuries.” (Martin Walker - The Wilson Quarterly)

“[C]ool and balanced.” (John Gray - The New Statesman)

“In this grand survey of what one could term irregular warfare, spanning from the Jewish revolt against the Romans in 66 AD and earlier to the present day, Boot shows that a good reading of the historical record leaves little room for old stereotypes... Invisible Armies is a fast and furious read, knocked out with the casual erudition of a scholar who had studied and considered his subject to such an extent that he has lost the need to show off what he's learned.” (Chris Barsanti - Pop Matters)

“[A] rich and enthralling history of guerrilla warfare.” (Jay Winik, author of April 1865 and The Great Upheaval)

“A magisterial overview of insurgency and counterinsurgency, peppered with fascinating personalities. The author counts 442 insurgencies since the American Revolution, 25.2 percent of which were successful.” (Gerard DeGroot - Washington Post)

“Boot, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of The Savage Wars of Peace, presents an astutely synthesized account of insurgency and counterinsurgency through the ages—from the Peloponnesian War to the post-Sept. 11 battlefields of today.”” (Ihsan Taylor - New York Times Book Review)

Product Details

  • File Size: 21990 KB
  • Print Length: 784 pages
  • Publisher: Liveright; 1 edition (January 10, 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007P9M034
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #40,247 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
67 of 79 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An eye opening look at warfare January 19, 2013
By EWebb
Format:Hardcover
First, this was an interesting and original idea for a book. Boot takes a previously undefined form of warfare and gives us over 2000 years of its history and allows the reader to decide how he wants to define its evolution.

Many of these historical episodes have been reviewed before while others are less well known but all are a fascinating look at how warfare has not always been thousands of soldiers staring each other in the eye and using a weapon until one falls as most history leads us to believe that it was until the American Civil War. As a matter of fact this book makes you realize that guerilla warfare has throughout time been the rule rather than an exception.

Boot formats the book to be read as a series of short histories on each period or battle or to be read straight through from beginning to end. The format is reader friendly for someone who is going to read a few pages and come back for a few more the next day. If a reader is only interested in one period of history it is set for that reader as well.

Boot also shows us that while guerilla warfare has changed over the centuries it has always been there in some form and certainly wasn't originated by modern terrorists. This book shows us that warfare evolved and changed along with the human race. We also realize that this type of warfare has been a great equalizer over the centuries for forces of good and evil.

The maps and illustrations are helpful and Boot does a good job of not going into technical jargon but just telling us the stories as they happened. He does so in a way that makes the reading interesting, thought provoking, and adding to the readers knowledge of this form a warfare.

An excellent addition to anyone's history library.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sinners or Saints? February 1, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Let me tell you from the very beginning of my words that this book is a masterpiece and will surely become a classic of its kind in a very short time. Max Boot has the rare gift of writing in a vivid manner about extremely complicated themes by offering the reader a panoramic view of the topics he focuses on and also by offering a deep and penetrating analysis of the many chapters he writes about.
To be more precise, there are 64 of them. Each chapter is a mini-history, starting from the ancient times to our days. They include the naration of thirty centuries of unconventional warfare and the whole volume is divided into eight parts. He starts analyzing various episodes from antiquity, looking at the origins of the oldest form of warfare in Mesopotamia, Rome and China. Then he moves to the eighteenth century and beyond, discussing guerrilla campaigns that resulted from the liberal revolutions that swept the world from the 1770s to the 1870s. Here he excells, in my view, in describing the way the Spanish struggled against Napoleon.
Another part of the book is about terrorists and its growth. The initial focus is on one of the first terrorist campaigns ever, waged by the Assassins in the medieval Middle East.
In Mr. Boot's view, John Brown's famous attacks on proslavery interests and the KKK's efforts to undermine Reconstruction are two of the most neglected terrorist campaigns.
He then goes on writing about the European anarchist movement, which, in his view, achieved almost nothing and then moves on chronologically, talking about WW1 and WW2 irregular fighters, concluding with the rise of Islam militants.
Another very interesting chapter is about the ways the terrorist mind works and its causes, although Walter Laqueuer dismissed the notion of a "terrorist mentality".
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Important Book February 13, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I very much enjoyed Max Boot's The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power. In that work, Boot shows how small conflicts, like the suppression of the Filipino insurrection following the Spanish American war, had an influence far beyond the relatively small nature of the conflict. Boot is very good at taking aspects of war, often forgotten or relegated to a `sideshow' and making them instrumental to an historical understanding of wider conflicts.

Boot very much takes this notion and drags it by the scruff in his monumental Invisible Armies: An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare. As the subtitle suggests, Boot wants to create an epic history, a milestone work that will become the reference point for people who want to learn about guerrilla war, terrorism, insurgency, counterinsurgency and asymmetrical conflicts of all kinds. Boot does this, and to great effect.

At first I was put off by the self-conscious effort of this book to assert itself as the reference work on this topic. Boot has become an important person in his field, and far more important people in policy and security will read this book. So, the work comes across as deeply conscious of being important, and that tone can be off putting.

There is also the danger of its wide scope. In 567 pages of text, Boot handles nearly every guerrilla conflict in the historical record. Like all books that take a global approach, one has to wonder if Boot is trying to fit wide and often divergent phenomenon into one form. I am not qualified to say if he is doing so here; I am only pointing out that this is a danger with a book with such wide goals and far flung material.

That said it is hard not to be impressed by Max Boot's accomplishment.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
The book was delivered on schedule and in good condition. A very interesting analysis of insurgency. I skimmed through and plan to save this for the beach this summer.
Published 4 days ago by Ernie Brita
5.0 out of 5 stars "Don't rely on historical myths"
The title of this review came from page 533: "This was a striking example of the importance of studying military history and of not relying on historical myths. Read more
Published 17 days ago by Alan D. Cranford
2.0 out of 5 stars Save your money and your time
I enjoy reading history and especially war histories and was looking forward to this one. But I found myself struggling to read the first 21 chapters. Read more
Published 29 days ago by Defcon
4.0 out of 5 stars Anecdotes of War and Struggle
This survey of unconventional warfare is an amazing set of anecdotes and personalities of history... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful
Just the book I was looking for. Max Boot provides a full and interesting history of guerrilla warfare and terrorism, his sort of commentary and primary sources helps the reader... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Vielleicht
5.0 out of 5 stars Smooth read & informative
Max Boot is a consummate writer. His content is well researched and highly informative. Reading flows smooth and effortlessly. Read more
Published 1 month ago by North Texas Girl
3.0 out of 5 stars Not read, given as gift, but author respected
I know this author by reputation - have read some of his previous publications. This book given as a gift to a relative - an undergrad on an ROTC scholarship and hoping for a... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Wine Fan
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, well written book.
I enjoyed reading " Invisible Armies" very much. Many of the military strategies can be applied to
every day life… . Read more
Published 2 months ago by jude obscure
3.0 out of 5 stars Guerilla Warfare
I very much enjoyed Boot's previous book, 'War Made New: Weapons, Warriors, and the Making of the Modern World', but 'Invisible Armies' seems to be a rehashing of anecdotal stories... Read more
Published 2 months ago by T. Kunikov
4.0 out of 5 stars A Virgin Discusses Sex
This is a very fine book written by an academic from an academic perspective. Max Boot gets it mostly right. But in the end shows himself to be a virgin discussing sex. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Ramon
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More About the Author

Max Boot is one of America's leading military historians and foreign-policy analysts. The Jeane J. Kirkpatrick senior fellow in national security studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, he is the author of two-widely acclaimed books: "The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power" and "War Made New: Technology, Warfare, and the Course of History, 1500 to Today." His latest book--"Invisible Armies: An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare from Ancient Times to the Present"--will be coming out in January 2013. He is also a regular contributor to The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, and many other publications. He has advised military commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan, and his books have been assigned reading by the military services. He has been called "a master historian" by the New York Times and a "a penetrating writer and thinker" by The Wall Street Journal. For more information, see www.maxboot.net.


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