‘The Accidental Guerrilla, a brilliant study by former Australian army colonel David Kilcullen … The book testifies to a great deal of hard work. Not only has Kilcullen had a privileged vantage point on the most important conflicts of our era, he has been thinking intently, reading widely but purposefully and taking notes the whole time. The result is probably the best book available on contemporary conflicts and how to fight them.’Whit Mason, Australian Literary Review
War in the post-9/11 world is far different from what we expected it be. Counterinsurgency and protracted guerrilla warfare, not shock and awe, are the order of the day. David Kilcullen is the world’s foremost expert on this way of war, and in The Accidental Guerrilla, the Senior Counterinsurgency Advisor to the Pentagon and architect of ‘the Surge’, surveys war as it is actually fought in the contemporary world.
Colouring his account with gripping battlefield experiences that range from the jungles and highlands of South and Southeast Asia to the mountains of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border to the dusty towns of the Middle East and the horn of Africa, The Accidental Guerrilla will, quite simply, change the way we think about war.
While conventional warfare has obvious limits, Kilcullen also stresses that neither counterterrorism nor traditional counterinsurgency is the appropriate framework to fight the enemy we now face. Certainly, traditional counterinsurgency is more effective than counterterrorism when it comes to entities like Al Qaeda, but as Kilcullen contends, our current focus is far too narrow, for it tends to emphasise one geographical region and one state. The current war presents a much different situation: stateless insurgents and terrorists operating across large number of countries and only loosely affiliated with each other. Just as importantly, the US had done a poor job of applying different tactics to different situations, continually misidentifying insurgents with limited aims and legitimate grievances as part of a coordinated worldwide network.
Given the incremental — yet remarkable — success of Kilcullen’s strategy in Iraq, what Kilcullen has to say will be widely anticipated. His vision of war has changed American policy, and this comprehensive account will help shape policy for years to come.
‘There are few authorities on this growing form of warfare, but Kilcullen is one of the best. One for those who wish to form their own opinions of such conflicts.’Piers Ackerman, The Daily Telegraph
‘This lucid and compelling book describes the challenges in contemporary warfare as counterinsurgency and counterterrorism merge, and conventional conflicts recede. It is an important primer for the decade.’Philip Bobbitt, author of Terror and Consent
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‘David Kilcullen, man of action and man of ideas, has produced a rare—and indispensible—guide to understanding and winning the so-called “war on terror” by combining ideas of military theory with those of culture and tradition among tribal peoples.’Professor Akbar Ahmed, Chair of Islamic Studies, American University, Washington DC