Synopses & Reviews
David Kilcullen is one of the world's most influential experts on counterinsurgency and modern warfare, a ground-breaking theorist whose ideas "are revolutionizing military thinking throughout the west" (Washington Post
). Indeed, his vision of modern warfare powerfully influenced America's decision to rethink its military strategy in Iraq and implement "the Surge," now recognized as a dramatic success.
In The Accidental Guerrilla, Kilcullen provides a remarkably fresh perspective on the War on Terror. Kilcullen takes us "on the ground" to uncover the face of modern warfare, illuminating both the big global war (the "War on Terrorism") and its relation to the associated "small wars" across the globe: Iraq, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Thailand, the Pakistani tribal zones, East Timor and the horn of Africa. Kilcullen sees today's conflicts as a complex interweaving of contrasting trends--local insurgencies seeking autonomy caught up in a broader pan-Islamic campaign--small wars in the midst of a big one. He warns that America's actions in the war on terrorism have tended to conflate these trends, blurring the distinction between local and global struggles and thus enormously complicating our challenges. Indeed, the US had done a poor job of applying different tactics to these very different situations, continually misidentifying insurgents with limited aims and legitimate grievances--whom he calls "accidental guerrillas"--as part of a coordinated worldwide terror network. We must learn how to disentangle these strands, develop strategies that deal with global threats, avoid local conflicts where possible, and win them where necessary.
Colored with gripping battlefield experiences that range from the jungles and highlands of Southeast Asia to the mountains of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border to the dusty towns of the Middle East, The Accidental Guerrilla will, quite simply, change the way we think about war. This book is a must read for everyone concerned about the war on terror.
"For a wider perspective on the lessons drawn over the past seven years of the 'war on terror', the reader can do no better than turn to Mr. Kilcullen's excellent book. The Accidental Guerrilla has an anthropologist's sense of social dynamics and a reporter's eye for telling detail. If T.E. Lawrence evoked the means of waging irregular warfare in his 1926 classic, 'Seven Pillars of Wisdom', Mr. Kilcullen describes the practitioner's art of combating insurgents."--The Economist
"This book should be required reading for every American soldier, as well as anyone involved in the war on terror. Kilcullen's central concept of the 'accidental guerrilla' is brilliant and the policy prescriptions that flow from it important. And that's not all; the book has many more insights drawn from various battlefields."--Fareed Zakaria, Newsweek
"Kilcullen's influence on how the U.S. military thought about counterinsurgency campaigning cannot be overstated."--Thomas E. Ricks, author of The Gamble and Fiasco
"There are some standard texts on [counterinsurgency]. The Accidental Guerrilla is sure to become one."--The Wall Street Journal
"This book is essential.... Kilcullen skillfully interprets the future of counterinsurgency, the proper use of military force and what we must learn from our losses and mistakes. After reading The Accidental Guerrilla, one is left to wonder why the Pentagon did not listen to his sage advice back in 2003."--New York Times Book Review
"Kilcullen's compelling argument merits wide attention."--Publishers Weekly Starred Review
"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
A Senior Counterinsurgency Advisor to General David Petraeus, Kilcullen's vision of war dramatically influenced America's decision to rethink its military strategy in Iraq. Now, in "The Accidental Guerrilla," Kilcullen provides a remarkably fresh perspective on the War on Terror.
About the Author
David Kilcullen is at once part of General David Petraeus' brain trust in Baghdad, an Australian anthropologist, a Pentagon-based counterinsurgency theorist, and an on-the-ground officer/military advisor who has worked in hotspots ranging from East Africa to the Javanese highlands to the jungles of the Philippines. The "go-to guy" for journalists when it comes to counterinsurgency, he was interviewed for a full-hour on Charlie Rose , was the subject of a full-length profile in the New Yorker written by George Packer, and he's quoted frequently in The New York Times. David Kilcullen is a senior fellow at the EastWest Institute.