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Phantom Soldier: The Enemy's Answer to U.S. Firepower Paperback – August 9, 2001

4.8 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"The Eastern warrior--as characterized in the thought-provoking 'Phantom Soldier'--and his tactics, are worthy of study and possible emulation." -- Infantry Magazine, Winter 2003

"John Poole ... [weaves] tactical lessons into ... exciting ... books. I would highly recommend them to all NCOs and officers." -- Gen. Anthony C. Zinni USMC(Ret.), March 2004

"This book ... talks about what goes on at the nitty-gritty level of infantry combat." -- Armor Magazine, January-February 2004

"Well-researched and authoritative, the book describes the differences between Eastern and Western military traditions." -- Newport News Daily Press, 6 January 2002

"[The book's] content is prophetic for the battle ... in Afghanistan.... [It] can help every infantryman ... deal ... with asymmetric conflict." -- Special Warfare Magazine, Winter 2002

"John Poole ... has studied how Asian armies ... fought in previous wars, and says Western armies need to pay attention." -- Fayetteville Observer (NC), 28 October 2001

"Transported back ... to WWII, Korea, and Vietnam, the reader will ... match wits with the best infantrymen in the world." -- Military Illustrated, issue 158, 2001

"[A] must for all those who have to meet the reality of ... 21st century [battle]." -- Fort Myers Pentagram, 30 November 2001

"This affordable book needs to be read by all combat arms soldiers, all special operators, and all generals."-- Army Magazine, 2002

"'Phantom Soldier' presents the Oriental way of war ... understandably (father of 4th-Generation Warfare theory)." -- William S. Lind, July 2001

"Book teaches ... individual and small-unit survival skills."-- Camp Pendleton Scout, 2001

"The code to Oriental infantry tactics has finally been broken (publisher emeritus of Presidio Press)." -- Col. Robert V. Kane U.S. Army (Ret.), 2001

"By revealing how Eastern soldiers ... hold their own without resupply, tanks, or air support, 'Phantom Soldier' shows what U.S. infantrymen must do to survive the more lethal weaponry of the 21st Century."-- Command Magazine, 2001

"An interesting summary of how Asian forces ... fight battles." -- Military Review Magazine, 2002

"A compelling look at enemy. Book written for small-unit leader." -- Camp Lejeune Globe, 2001

"The author ... has filled ... [the] gap ... in small-unit leader's training." -- Leatherneck Magazine, March 2002

"An enormously illuminating and valuable book (author of 'Odysseus in America')." --Jonathan Shay, 2001

"Traditional warfare ... has given way to unconventional, asymmetric warfare. [Among the available books on the subject is 'Phantom Soldier']."-- U.S. Naval War College Asymmetric Warfare Library announcement, 2006

"What it means to confront an enemy that really understands Sun Tzu. It could also be read as a [tactics] manual for 4GW." --Defense and the National Interest, August 2005

"Want a primer on how Usama Bin Laden ... thinks, his tactics, how to beat him at his own game? Read this book." --Companyteam.army.mil, 2002

"Well done book ... for those who have to carry out military tactics.... [A] must read for all levels of our military structure." --Reviewers' Consortium Online, 2002

"Unique in presenting the other side's tactics and strategies. 'Phantom Soldier' explains ... different ways of warfare." --Rec.arts.books.reviews, 2002

"Well researched and authoritative, this book describes the differences between Eastern and Western ... methods of warfare." --Oberlin Alumni Magazine, 2002

From the Publisher

Unlike most other military books on the market, Phantom Soldier has the potential to save lives. For whatever reason, the U.S. military has only partially revealed to its lower echelons how Eastern armies fight at short range. Since WWI, American ground troops have entered combat expecting their opposition to have commensurate skills and similar maneuvers. This misperception has already cost many their lives. By revealing the pronounced trends in Eastern small-unit infantry tactics, Phantom Soldier shows U.S. service personnel how to win the guerrilla wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and more easily survive any larger conflict. With an in-depth look at several famous battles and over a hundred illustrations, this book has what it takes to entertain.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Posterity Press(NC); Illustrated edition (August 9, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0963869558
  • ISBN-13: 978-0963869555
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 8.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #449,298 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
A "must-read" for anyone who truly wants to understand small unit tactics. Studying the western way of war is only half of the equation. Reading and absorbing the lessons in this book is the other half - the most important half.

This well-written and well-researched book is sorely needed in today's U.S. military. To all those blinded by the technologies involved in transforming the U.S. military, or the so-called "revolution in military affairs," this book should serve as a 'reality check.' Poole repeatedly shows how the Western over-reliance on ordnance and technological superiority was effectively countered by adversaries who recognized the West's strengths and consciously decided to focus on small unit tactics and training.

Poole's message (some may call it a warning) is clear: the West will never live up to its military potential (or up to its over-inflated militarily superior opinion of itself) if it continues to ignore pursuing the tactical excellence needed to complement its unquestioned technological superiority. The real transformation or revolution in military affairs should be the paradigm shift to ensuring that our individuals and small units are as tactically proficient as they are technologically advanced.

This book can help all Western military decision-makers think differently about warfighting and can help save lives on the battlefield.
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Format: Paperback
Retired Marine Lieutenant Colonel John Poole has written a timely book to help soldiers understand the enemy and to learn how to fight in the post-911 wars. Based on ancient Chinese writings, some only recently made available, historical example, and his own experiences, Poole takes away a large part of the mysticism surrounding the tactics and thinking of the armies of the shadows. Further, he has the audacity to suggest that the American combat forces adapt to, if not adopt, many of these ideas.
One of the most chilling passages in Poole's book is a reflection from the 36 Stratagems, a Chinese work relatively new to the West, which translates to: "Kill with a borrowed knife or sword". Further, it is not a big stretch to link the Japanese Kamikazes in World War II to the terrorists' crashing of airliners into buildings at the beginning of this new war.
This is not a book for the advocates of the Revolution in Military Affairs. While Poole does not reject the RMA, he is clearly down in the weeds where the American fighting man will be. Nor will this book please the cognoscenti who have never seen the face of war, but this is a book that will save American lives.
How can these third world armies of the night stand up to the might of the American military machine? Poole's answer is that by using maneuver against an attrition-oriented army, these enemies have been able to wreak havoc. The focus of our asymmetric enemies is squad level tactics and low tech weapons. American Special Forces in Afghanistan have perhaps taken a page from Poole's book in applying the American Way of War asymmetrically to the elusive Taliban and Al Qaeda enemies.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Edit of 20 Dec 07 to add links.

This author is addictive. I started with Crescent Moon, got Phantom Soldier next, and now am eagerly awaiting the Last 100 Yards. Although I do not expect to see combat in my remaining years, I have three boys that almost certainly will if things keep going as they are, and this book is frightening to any parent or voter.

His bottom line is clear: all of our expensive high-tech equipment is increasing the soldier's load (shades of SLA Marshall) at the same time that it is reducing the soldier's ability to see (one eye covered by a sensor), smell, move, and communicate. We are pursuing a very expensive top down command and control model of confrontational fire-power warfare that is rather easily bogged down by stealth adversaries patient enough to crawl for days and dig underground for months in adavance. I am reminded of the "Tunnels of Ch Chi." The author is totally tuned in with what I think of as 5th Generation or "bottom up" warfare in which the small units do most of the sensing and thinking, and they are not simply pawns on a giant chessboard.

Much of the book is a highly readable and easily understood account of the common sense and complex thinking that allows Eastern units that are very well-trained to defeat or avoid Western units that are very well-provisioned (I am also reminded of MajGen Bob Scales "Firepower in Limited War,", but not trained in the infantry skills needed to go man on man in stealth mode.

There is a very great deal to this author's thinking. I do not expect him to have the impact necessary on our new brigade Army or expeditionary Marine Corps, but I hope that by the time my three boys are of draft age, there are generals in power that share this author's wisdom.
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Format: Paperback
Phantom soldier" clearly brings the lessons of recent military history to our vision. In these new wars, the lonely American soldier, the nineteen-year-old infantryman carrying rifles with bayonets fixed and grenades dangling from his web gear, must go into the very foreign deadly tall grass and trees, the dark-canopied jungle, the high and incredibly tough mountains, the dense confusing deadly maze of the teeming cities of Asia, and as individuals, in squads and in platoons find the enemy and fight him in his backyard, with this rifle, grenade and bayonet. This is extremely foreign to a young American soldier's experience. These strange tactics, effectively blunts our strength in firepower and forces us to operate in a small-unit infantry war of soldier to soldier, rifle to rifle, bayonet to bayonet; which requires the basic small units, squads and platoons, to be very effectively trained.
War stories and movies are very popular, because history and adventure come together, with the thrill of rolling the dice in the most ancient of all of man's activities - war. "Phantom Soldier" vividly presents the actions the infantryman takes to build bunkers, set-up ambushes, attack a fortified and entrenched position covered by machine guns, and react when ambushed. In "Phantom Soldier" these Sergeants and Privates are soldiers of the countries that we fight: Japanese, Somalians, Arabians, Vietnamese, and German. "Phantom Soldier" explains in great detail the very different historical perspectives, living conditions, terrain, resources and worldviews that have produced different ways of warfare.
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