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really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating Details  ·  306 Ratings  ·  20 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 the United States' decision to rethink its military strategy in Iraq and implement "the Surge, ...more
Paperback, 251 pages
Published May 19th 2010 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published January 1st 2010)
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Aug 25, 2014 Hans rated it really liked it
Shelves: military
The most fascinating part of counterinsurgency to me is how it is essentially a war fought with ideas more than violence. It is a propaganda war and he who has the most compelling message and ideas wins. In fact indiscriminate violence is more like using gasoline to put out a fire. Unless you literally want to burn everything down until there isn't anything left it is a poor choice for fighting a counter-insurgency. The use of brute force to counter insurgency is akin to a frontal assault on a m ...more
This book is more is a random assortment of pieces by Kilcullen, ranging from articles published on disaggregation theory, to COIN in general, as well as monographs and combat briefs based on personal experience in the field. Although the collection seems quite random at times, ranging from personal experiences of conflict in East Timor, to Indonesian COIN, to how to measure success in Afghanistan, it is all interesting stuff. The most useful chapter by far for most readers is likely to be the l ...more
Lars Lofgren
Jul 11, 2010 Lars Lofgren rated it really liked it
Following the success and praise of his previous book, The Accidental Guerilla, David Kilcullen has released a compilation of his previously published articles on counterinsurgency that have impacted and evolved the theoretical understanding of the field. From the "Twenty-eight Articles" that initially went viral to a summary of his doctoral dissertation, Kilcullen's analysis can now be located in one book. Kilcullen, one of the leading counterinsurgency analysts, provides a wealth of informatio ...more
Apr 26, 2014 Jonard rated it really liked it
A narrow place can contain a thousand friends, according to a Syrian proverb, and so it's best to begin this review by making sense of how valuable civilian affairs is to counterinsurgency and on-the- ground operations.

Imagine serving in the military, and being enlisted overseas in a low-priority unit: you have no translators, aid agencies have no money for projects in your area, your unit have basically a low priority funding. Can you still get things done?

Kilcullen's 2009 book Accidental Guer
May 20, 2013 Joe rated it liked it
A themed collection of articles published in 2009/2010 by counterinsurgency thinker David Kilcullen, following up on ideas previously outlined in his 2006-era Twenty-Eight Articles: Fundamentals of Company-Level Counterinsurgency, as well as incorporating concepts and updates from later works, including The Accidental Guerrilla.

The article on the insurgencies in Western Java and East Timor was very informative, as I did not know much about them. Particularly notable was the look at the success (
Jan 28, 2015 Mike rated it really liked it
A good book that provides a lot of insight about modern COIN in the global insurgency sense. I've heard that The Accidental Guerrilla is better, so I'll be reading that shortly, but this is a useful book that adds onto the US Army Field Manual on Counterinsurgency with a more tactical, on-the-ground-level point of view to it.
This collection of articles from an Australian advisor to General Petraeus presages a number of points he makes in his later work, The Accidental Guerilla. It's an important part of the dialogue in dealing with the asymmetric struggle with radical Islamists, although many of its points are broader.
Jun 28, 2010 Dr. rated it it was ok
Shelves: military-theory
Not only does this book illustrate what is being done to put down resistance to american imperialism overseas in Iraq and afghanistan, but it also shines light on what we see happening here in our country against supposed "eco-terrorists". It was not in any way an exciting read, especially if you don't already geek out on military history/ theory but it is an important book anyway. The author is one of the most respected and influential military thinkers currently influencing american policy. Hi ...more
Jun 19, 2011 Brian rated it it was ok
Shelves: history
Kilcullen presents really interesting, well-reasoned theory about dealing with modern insurgency. Several of the articles were engaging & well organized. I paricularly enjoyed the "28 Principles" and his battle report from Motain Bridge. A couple of the articles were, for me, text-book dry. I would liked to have seen the same quality of writing and level of reader-engagement throughout, but because it is a collection of individual articles that span more than 10 years of study and experience ...more
William J.
Jun 08, 2016 William J. rated it really liked it
Excellent book if you are interested in the subject matter. The author gives examples of successful and failed counterinsurgency actions and makes recommendations for an approach to fighting a worldwide insurgency rather than fighting a war on terror alone.
Shaun Major
Mar 11, 2016 Shaun Major rated it really liked it
A fascinating glimpse into the evolving mind of a soldier who has had an extraordinary impact upon armed western foreign policy across the past decade and a half.
Calvin Sun
Jun 04, 2015 Calvin Sun rated it liked it
Shelves: history
There are many organizational strategy and insights from both the insurgency and counterinsurgency perspective that can be applied outside the theatre of war. Especially when you are instigating change from a bottom up approach, this book provides a paradigm for ways through large organizations and complex cultural & human dynamics.
Christopher Sanderson
The last chapter is brilliant, the rest has become outdated, really. Still a brilliant analyst. Worth reading the latter parts in light if current events. Lots of good background throughout.
Jansen Wee
Aug 03, 2011 Jansen Wee rated it liked it
A book that takes a pragmatic look at counter-insurgency; and grounded in both research and reality. The author makes many useful points that are worth serious pondering. His final chapter on treating global extremist terrorism as a global-level insurgency makes sense, as would his suggestions on how to tackle the issue.
Apr 28, 2011 James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Fascinating book thought provoking and extremely relevant to the whole "war on terror". Especially interesting analysis of Iraq and consequences/experiences/lessons learnt which should be applied in Afghanistan as well as dealing with godal Jihadism. Not the easiest book to read but one of the most thought provoking.
Sep 17, 2010 Chris rated it really liked it
Shelves: military
A great read, begins to drift toward the end. His reflections on counterinsurgency reveal a healthy respect for same processes of bottom-up development that Bill Easterly emphasizes in his economic work. It's unfortunate that there has not been more dialogue.
Mar 18, 2012 Jerome rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
I didn't actually finish reading this book, and have no desire to ever do so. It's the first in a long time that I have to say that about, fiction or non-fiction. There was some good information presented, but it just rubbed me the wrong way.
Nicholas Callahan
Aug 18, 2010 Nicholas Callahan rated it it was amazing
Counterinsurgency provides a well-rounded view of insurgencies and how to defeat them from the view of a persona actually in the battle. Very good book, makes very strong arguments.
Oct 27, 2010 Tari rated it it was ok
Not much new information
Dec 26, 2010 William rated it liked it
This is apparently the prevailing thinking among military and security decision-makers in Washington right now. The proposed counterinsurgency strategy seems sound, intelligent, and impossible to execute. Cheering thoughts.
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“Thus counterinsurgency is at heart an adaptation battle: a struggle to rapidly develop and learn new techniques and apply them in a fast-moving, high-threat environment, bringing them to bear before the enemy can evolve in response, and rapidly changing them as the environment shifts.” 0 likes
“Insurgents tend to ride and manipulate a social wave of grievances, often legitimate ones, and they draw their fighting power from their connection to a mass base. This mass base is largely undetectable to counterinsurgents, since it lies below the surface and engages in no armed activity” 0 likes
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