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on April 20, 1998
The history of the Marine Corps is replete with "expeditions": relatively small interventions to protect American life and property in the odd corners of the world.
Finding that they were not retaining the hard-won lessons of previous operations, "Red Mike" Edson (who is, oddly., not credited in the Introduction), and others wrote this encyclopedic guide to every facet of "small wars". They tried to encompass everything: political relationships, logistics, tactics, and useful instruction down to the correct principles for loading pack mules!
Some of the assumptions of the 1930's may jar the sensibilities of the modern reader, but the Manual is a fascinating view into the operations of the Old Corps - and we may some day need the wisdom again.

The "score" rating is an ineradicable feature of the page. This reviewer does not "score" books.)
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Despite being over sixty years old, the 1940 edition of the USMC's Small Wars Manual remains one of the cornerstone documents for fighting counter-insurgency warfare. Written in a direct style that is absent from today's military documents, the small wars manual covers the art of fighting limited wars from A-Z, to include ambushes, running elections, disarming the population, and dealing with locals. This book is widely used, often imitated, but never beaten. Far from a historical document, the Small Wars Manual remains vital today.
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on October 25, 2005
Between the two world wars the United States sent its military forces to numerous small countries to bolster the US diplomatic efforts. The countries so 'invaded' included virtually every Latin American country and countries as far away as China and the Philippines. In order to have their forces operate, the United States military has to have manuals that define what the forces are going to do.

'Small Wars' are defined in several ways but which do not involve a major effort in regular warfare against a first-rate power. The final manual on the subject was published in 1940, before the concept of small wars was erased by bigger events. After World War II, the manual was not re-written but was reprinted from time to time with the admonition that it should be considered in relation to the time in which it was written.

Now re-published again, the book has been sent to Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries where 'Small Wars' are being fought. It covers every aspect from Strategy to Logistics, from Transportation to small unit tactics. Within the range of subjects covered is Air Trasportation, remember that this was written in 1940. But it also tells you how to load a Browning .30 water cooled machine gun on a pack mule.

This book is obviously not a direct report on what is going on around the world, but it is surprising that so much of the information given here is directly applicable.
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VINE VOICEon April 8, 2012
This manual has some great historical knowledge from the Marine Corps' "Banana Wars" era covering the ageless counter-insurgency methodology that is still relevant today in Afghanistan. The "Small Wars Manual" is a capstone document in the tactical and operational art and science of small wars or low-intensity conflicts. Written before World War II, the manual now serves as an information source for present-day military personnel and should not be considered directive in nature. When reading the "Small Wars Manual", the reader should place it in context with pre-World War II politics and operational methods. While the operational events described in the manual are not relevant today, the terms, concepts, and methods still are applicable. Today's counter-insurgent warriors will see relevance to today's events and the historical connection between the tactics, techniques and procedures used in this manual and American's current involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. While this book is recommended for those whose job it is to lead counter-insurgency units at the tactical and operational levels, every officer and enlisted soldier should take time to study the manual. The American military is faced with being drawn into more and more operations that require civil action in conjunction with military action. Therefore, the more knowledgeable a leader is on the workings of small wars, the better prepared he will be in accomplishing the mission and explaining to subordinates the relevance of what they are being asked to do. I also highly recommend reading C. E. Callwell's book "Small Wars: Their Principles and Practice" were Callwell concludes that technological superiority is important, but not the most important ingredient in low intensity warfare. An army must adapt to climate, terrain, an enemy's mobility, and take what an enemy values most.
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VINE VOICEon April 8, 2012
This manual has some great historical knowledge from the Marine Corps' "Banana Wars" era covering the ageless counter-insurgency methodology that is still relevant today in Afghanistan. The "Small Wars Manual" is a capstone document in the tactical and operational art and science of small wars or low-intensity conflicts. Written before World War II, the manual now serves as an information source for present-day military personnel and should not be considered directive in nature. When reading the "Small Wars Manual", the reader should place it in context with pre-World War II politics and operational methods. While the operational events described in the manual are not relevant today, the terms, concepts, and methods still are applicable. Today's counter-insurgent warriors will see relevance to today's events and the historical connection between the tactics, techniques and procedures used in this manual and American's current involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. While this book is recommended for those whose job it is to lead counter-insurgency units at the tactical and operational levels, every officer and enlisted soldier should take time to study the manual. The American military is faced with being drawn into more and more operations that require civil action in conjunction with military action. Therefore, the more knowledgeable a leader is on the workings of small wars, the better prepared he will be in accomplishing the mission and explaining to subordinates the relevance of what they are being asked to do. I also highly recommend reading C. E. Callwell's book "Small Wars Their Principles and Practice" were Callwell concludes that technological superiority is important, but not the most important ingredient in low intensity warfare. An army must adapt to climate, terrain, an enemy's mobility, and take what an enemy values most.
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on December 21, 2006
Fascinating book, well written, thoughtful field manual relevant to the history of this type of conflict.

Good historical introduction. I am thankful for its preservation.

Pavillion Press edition is the most poorly bound book I have ever bought.

I thought Gutenburg figured out how to do that job correctly.

Treat it gently as it falls apart in your hands due to poor binding and construction.

Don't even think about opening it flat.

Consider it more as a looseleaf photocopy of a lost text.

Such poor presentation detracts from an otherwise very worthwhile effort.
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on April 30, 2011
From the description, I expected a current update of this Marine Corps publication. It's dated 1940, and the book looks like it was photocopied from the original. I find much of the book to be interesting, if nothing else a good piece of history. Many points about logistics, and interruption of the enemies economy truly demonstrates the mastery of the art of war by the Marines.
In that this book was written before Pearl Harbor, it appeared the Japanese paid more attention to this material than the US Government.
Much of the information is dated, especially when detailing weapons systems, & care of mules, with complete anatomical drawings. But the point is that one has to study a lot, and plan in detail before a war of any size.
I have two relatives serving in the Corps at the moment. Their training focuses on adaptation, and getting the task done.
It wasn't what I expected, but on reflection, it's an interesting read.
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on February 2, 2015
This is the book the US military should have been reading before the Vietnam conflict. How did the Army and Marines manage to unlearn everything in this book, only to have to learn it all over again the hard way?
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on May 12, 2014
This manual was written by marines who participated in the numerous banana wars in South America and in the Philippines ,it a helpful guide for all officers in the field as well as NCOs . The manual is still relevant today I the military's fight against terrorism . A guide in winning.
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on September 1, 2015
This book is the vision played by the Marine Corps for generations of Marines. It covers large and small issue (such as pack mules). It is still an important read for anyone considering live in difficult circumstances.
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