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Small Wars Their Principles and Practice Paperback – November 4, 2009
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The author served in the Second Afghan and both Boer Wars, was an assiduous student of warfare around the globe and retired as a Major General after heading the British Army's Intelligence division during the Great War. The breadth of his knowledge is shown by the range of examples that illustrate the principles laid down in his book. The chapter on "Feints", for instance, draws on actions from the Zulu Wars, the Indian Mutiny, the 1821 Wallachian insurrection against the Ottoman Empire, the Second Afghan War, the Kaffir War of 1878, the French occupation of Algeria, the British expedition against Abyssinia in 1868, the siege of Khartoum, the suppression of Riel's revolt in Canada, the war against the Mahdi and a couple of Indian campaigns. Elsewhere, we are presented with the Russians in Central Asia, the French in Tonkin, Dahomey and Madagascar, the U.S. cavalry against the Indians of the Great Plains, the British and French in China, and many more now-obscure imbroglios.
The first several chapters lay down broad strategic principles, most of them flowing from the key insight that regular armies enjoy great tactical advantages over forces inferior in organization, arms, training and discipline but suffer equally great strategic handicaps.Read more ›
With this observation duly noted, Major Callwell sees the basic strengths of the western forces arising from their discipline and generally superior weaponry. Their opponents' basic strengths lay in superior knowledge of the territory in which the western forces must operate and a general ability to avoid battle on unfavorable terms. Indeed, bringing local opponents to battle must be the chief objective of the colonial forces. Aggressively forcing battle, even when facing great odds, is, in the author's view, essential to success.
The book is very detailed on the issues of warfare, even including a short section on the use of camels. Maintenance of morale, intelligence gathering, difficulties of logistics, battle tactics, the leadership of small units and much more are addressed in great detail. As I read the book, I thought of what has changed and what remains a constant. Communications in the 19th century was a constant challenge with the ability to contact troops or forces sometimes almost non-existent. Communications may still fail today, but communications should generally be much improved. Automatic weapons were just coming into use at this time and the author notes both the advantages of these weapons and their limitations. I don't believe that the author fully appreciated the incredible impact these weapons would have just a decade or two later in the First World War.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A great read, if not very politically correct by modern standards. This book proves that the British Officer of the 1900s was as professional in his career as any in the world and... Read morePublished 18 months ago by Stephen Becket
Excellent historical review of unconventional - guerilla warfare based on experience in Middle East & Asia that is relevant today in view of current & ongoing events that effect us... Read morePublished on April 21, 2013 by T. F. Downham II, MD
Every career soldier and military "expert" should read Callwell's book and absorb its lessons. Callwell has influenced the architects of our current counterinsurgency doctrine,... Read morePublished on November 21, 2009 by Steven L. Donaldson
Col. Callwell wrote an exhaustive study of the tactics and strategies of guerrilla warfare and insurgency... a hundred years ago. Read morePublished on August 12, 2009 by E. M. Van Court
More than a century later, it is still a classic detailed study of irregular warfare. It is interesting and instructive with insights into modern warfare years ahead of the 4th... Read morePublished on January 26, 2005 by Stratiotes Doxha Theon
Colonel Callwell's book is a "must" for any student of military history and also practicing members of the armed forces. Read morePublished on April 17, 2003 by Mr. Patrick OConnell