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War of the Flea: The Classic Study of Guerrilla Warfare Reprint Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1574885552
ISBN-10: 1574885553
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"[The author has] the odd accolade of being the only American among Castro's defending forces at Playa Giron....He makes an excellent case, a sort of modern Sun Tzu who finds romance in the abstract guerilla formula of juggling time, space, and will."

"Very interesting on the popular level, and a good example of political journalism..."

"Has new relevance as terrorist organizations inspired by new revolutionaries dominate the international security landscape. . . . Reading The War of the Flea is an excellent beginning to understanding the current problems facing the military."

About the Author

Robert Taber traveled to Cuba in the late 1950s as a CBS investigative journalist to cover the country’s burgeoning revolutionary movement. He became an eyewitness to history as he marched from the Sierra Maestra to Havana with the ragtag revolutionaries, led by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, who forced Batista to flee the country. Taber also wrote M-26: Biography of a Revolution.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 214 pages
  • Publisher: Potomac Books; Reprint edition (August 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1574885553
  • ISBN-13: 978-1574885552
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #227,204 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I read the first edition of this book which was published in 1965 - so I don't know whether this edition is a revised one. Remember that, at the time the original one was published, the Vietnam War was still on - and Che Guevara was still alive & very much active. So the first edition does not make any reference to either the greatest triumph of guerrilla warfare, defeat of the vastly superior US forces to the peasant army of the Vietcong and North Vietnam; nor its dismal failure in almost all other parts of the world, symbolically represented in Che's death in Bolivia. This was the time when everyone thought that guerrilla warfare was the wave of the future; and there were a number of books on its theory and practice. There was Che's own "Guerrilla Warfare", Regis Debray's "Revolution of the Revolution", Carlos Marighella's manual on urban guerrilla warfare, etc (I remember seeing at least a couple more books which came out during this period). There were also books on counter-insurgency, mostly by ex-US Special Forces experts, most of which confidently predicted that US victory over the guerrillas in Vietnam was just a matter of few months :->

However, what sets Taber's book apart from these other books is the non-partisan approach he took in writing on the subject. He is virtually the only writer in this area who discusses Grivas, one of the rare non-leftist guerrilla fighters, in any length. Many people seem to forget that guerrilla warfare has no essential connection to leftist political movements. It is just a method of warfare available to political movements of all hues (as is evident from a perusal of the manual of insurgency for the Nicaraguan Contras prepared by the CIA).
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Format: Paperback
There have been a lot of books on guerrilla warfare. They typically fall into one of two categories. Those by Americans are written by university or military types who have studed irregular warfare from an academic or counter guerrilla war aspect. (Example, the forward to this book by Bard E. O'Neill of the National War College.) The other class of books are those written by practictionners who are not American such as Che Guevara. This book was written by an American serving with Castro's forces during the revolution in Cuba.

The book was first published in 1965 and became a classic. Long since out of print, the occassional rare copy that became available was quickly purchased at any price. Now Potomac Books has reprinted the original book, with as stated, a new forward.

If you are headed to Iraq buy it, it will give you a better understanding of what's going on. If you're interested in Iraq, buy it before it is gone again. If you're in the media, don't bother, your interest is ratings not reporting.
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Format: Paperback
Despite the fact the text is a bit dated its teachings remain highly relevant to the contemporary reader. This is not a book of specific tactics, as Taber himself will explain in chapter 10. Most of the specifics of guerrilla war will have to be learned extemporaneously according the conditions in which the guerilla finds him/herself fighting in;"The guerrilla is, above all, an improviser" (pg. 154). Instead what is given is a detailed history of what led to the success or failure of previous guerrilla campaigns and the lessons learned from their outcomes. Written in the heyday of the guerrilla, Taber looks at dozens of case studies; from Grivas in Cyprus to Castro in Cuba, and of course the authors of the classics of guerrilla war and warfare in general, such as Mao, Sun Tzu, and Clausewitz.

I'm rather impressed that so much knowledge could be crammed into just 200 pages, but this text is well worth to read to understand the history of guerrilla warfare and for better comprehension of contemporary insurgency. Once again, although the book is a bit dated, there are few that have been written since its release that challenge Taber's command of the subject. Since it was written before the close of the Vietnam war it unfortunately does not touch down on the most successful use of irregular tactics in history, which is a shame because I'm sure Taber's thoughts on the subject would be valuable. Even if Vietnam had been mentioned though it would only further vindicate many of Taber's findings anyway. I'm truly amazed that such a wealth of information can be transmitted so succinctly; and to top it off, it's a fast and enjoyable read.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is older having been published in the 60's, but one of the best works on guerrilla war that I have read. The book looks mostly at the Cuban rebellion with Castro. There are other case studies including a look at the intensifying war in Vietnam. For those who want to learn about small wars this is an important work to read. And even though this work is old, it still can be applied to current conflicts in the middle east and Africa.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Our country is headed down a slippery slope. The flea is an interesting read and is doctrine for those who fight unconventionally. In this day and age of drones and tools this warfare style is the only one our nation has never really been able to squelch, nor has any other govt.

DW
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