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Jungle of Snakes: A Century of Counterinsurgency Warfare from the Philippines to Iraq Hardcover – June 9, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-1596915039 ISBN-10: 159691503X Edition: First Edition

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Press; First Edition edition (June 9, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159691503X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596915039
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,237,692 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This is a thoughtful history of two successful counterinsurgency campaigns (the Philippines after 1898 and Malaya 1948–1960) and two failures (Algeria 1954–1962 and Vietnam). According to Arnold (Tet Offensive 1968), in the Philippines, the entire U.S. army of 70,000 spent a decade brutally suppressing a poorly equipped, almost leaderless rebellion. The British campaign in Malaya enjoyed the priceless advantage that the insurgents were Chinese, a minority and traditionally hated by the majority Malays. Despite this, victory took 12 bloody years. French forces had overwhelmed Algerian rebels when French President De Gaulle ordered a withdrawal, having decided the political cost of remaining in a hostile country was too great. And American troops in Vietnam killed so many Vietcong that North Vietnamese troops took over most of the fighting, but the civilians never trusted the government to protect them—and all insurgencies feed off this failure, notes Arnold. The author makes a convincing case that killing insurgents never defeats an insurgency. That happens when a nation's population feels safe, a painful lesson that America is relearning the hard way in Iraq and Afghanistan. B&w illus. (June)
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Review

“Delivers needed insight and historical precedent to the current war debate.”—Kirkus Reviews

 

“A thoughtful history…[Arnold] makes a convincing case that killing insurgents never defeats an insurgency. That happens when a nation’s population feels safe, a painful lesson that America is relearning the hard way in Iraq and Afghanistan.”—Publishers Weekly

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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Nick Howes on September 13, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Excellent analysis of four 20th century counterinsergencies: Philippines, Malaya, Algeria, and Viet Nam. Each section helpfully includes a summary of points. Among the lessons the reader takes away: draconian methods are needed to successfully battle guerrila movements, even when those movements are not supported by the population (Malaya). Further, draconian methods leave the counterinsurgency effort understandably vulnerable to press coverage except where that coverage can be deflected (Philippines) and that press coverage can seriously weaken effort. Also, as is obvious in Iraq and Afghanistan, no matter the provocation, Western democracies do not have endless patience with drawn-out efforts; that's a huge advantage to the guerrilas. Worthwhile addition to your library.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Peter Monks on July 5, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
While not the most penetrating or scholarly study of Counterinsurgency, Jungle of Snakes draws on four twentieth-century counterinsurgency campaigns in a largely successful effort to identify enduring themes and misconceptions. While this limited scope leaves a lot of issues and potential lessons unexplored, the four campaigns of choice (Philippines post-1898, Malaya, Algeria and Vietnam) are covered in sufficient detail to illustrate little-known aspects of each campaign, and with enough critical insight to counter the sometimes superficially uncritical citing of British practice in Malaya, French theory born of Algerian experience, or US Marine versus US Army practice in Vietnam as examples of successful COIN.

Jungle of Snakes is written in a clear, accessible 'popular history' style and avoids excessive reliance on military knowledge and jargon in order to interest readers without detailed military knowledge, yet contains sufficient detail and rigor to serve as a suitable introductory work for military professionals before tackling COIN theorists (for example, Kilcullen's or Galula's work) or detailed accounts of campaigns such as Horne's 'A Savage War of Peace'. Recommended as worth a look if you are interested in an accessible yet surprisingly penetrating overview of COIN.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By lumarine on August 1, 2011
Format: Paperback
This book provides several vignettes dealing with Algeria, Vietnam, Philippines and Malaya. Author explores how in both Vietnam and Algeria the French and Americans did not adopt effective strategies till it was too little too late.
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More About the Author

Years ago my wife and I rented a former slave cabin on a plantation in Upperville, Virginia. The landlord was the grandson of a trooper who served with partisan leader John Mosby (the Gray Ghost). The doorstop was a ten-pound Parrott rifle shell recovered from the upper hay field (a cavalry skirmish had extended across the fields in 1863). Across Goose Creek was an historical marker signifying the place where Mosby's band first mustered. Here, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains we were surrounded by history and I began writing "The Cost of Freedom."

While my day job focused on military history, this was not what I wanted to write about in my novel. Instead, I was interested in how individuals confronted stark personal and moral choices as the great issue of the day -- secession -- threatened to rend the fabric of the lives. No such examination could ignore the salient role of slavery.

Research was profoundly enjoyable with each discovery bringing a new set of questions about motivation and loyalty: finding "The Journals of Amanda Virginia Edmonds" upon whom my Amanda is based and meeting her descendants; driving up a plantation lane to purchase our Thanksgiving turkey and seeing the antebellum, double decker balcony from where each year the elderly matron stood to bless the local hunt -- the inspiration for my race between Armistead and Min; finding a Confederate flag sewn by the local women at a small county museum with the hand-painted inscription "Go and Fight!" -- the basis for my scene where Amanda presents the colors to the Loudoun Grays; learning that a Union-loyal, Alabama-born officer had evaded Stonewall Jackson's trap at Harpers Ferry to lead yankee cavalry to safety, and realizing that my Armistead Carter had to help him find the way.

Well-crafted historical fiction has been a source of joy in my life; Dorothy Dunnett's epic sagas, Patrick O'Brian's sea-faring tales. They are page-turning adventure stories and explorations of character. If my "Cost of Freedom" can achieve even a faint echo of those wonderful reads, then I will be satisfied.

James R. Arnold is the author of more than twenty-five books devoted to military history and leadership. His published works include Presidents Under Fire, a study of how American presidents perform as war leaders, Grant Wins the War, a campaign study of Vicksburg, and Jeff Davis's Own, the story of the future Civil War generals who served on the Texas frontier during the Indian Wars. Arnold is the founder of Napoleon Books, a niche publishing venture devoted to Napoleonic studies. His most recent book, The Moro War (Bloomsbury Press, 2011) examines the first U.S. war against an Islamic insurgency. He has also written forty-two library reference books for young adults that address the social and historical events associated with colonial America, the American and French Revolutions, the Industrial Revolution and the American Civil War. Arnold and his wife live on a farm in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley.

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