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Brave New War: The Next Stage of Terrorism and the End of Globalization

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  365 ratings  ·  40 reviews
The counterterrorism expert John Robb reveals how the same technology that has enabled globalization also allows terrorists and criminals to join forces against larger adversaries with relative ease and to carry out small, inexpensive actions--like sabotaging an oil pipeline--that generate a huge return. He shows how combating the shutdown of the world's oil, high-tech, an ...more
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published April 20th 2007 by Wiley
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3.88  · 
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 ·  365 ratings  ·  40 reviews

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Jul 30, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone interested in security and social issues
90% outstanding and 10% really coming up short... I'd have given this 5 stars if the author, John Robb, had done as good a job in the last section as in the rest.
He did a superb job analyzing the flaws in conventional military thought, and in the current administration's strategy or lack thereof, when it comes to dealing with Al Qaeda, Iraq, and modern guerrilla and terrorist movements in general. A lot of the content of this book is in line with General Rupert Smith's thinking in The Utility of
Ryan Holiday
Jun 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I first read this book in 2007 as research for Robert Greene's address to a class at West Point and it's stuck with me and stood up better than almost all the books I've read on technology since then. Brave New War is an examination of Fourth Generation Warfare, or the war of networked groups against states. Think: Al-Queda vs US. Mujahadeen vs Russia. Anonymous vs Scientology. Bloggers vs brands/companies/celebrities. In retrospect, a handful of Robb's predictions turned out to be a bit oversta ...more
I had the pleasure of reading John Robb's Brave New War: The Next Stage of Terrorism and the End of Globalization over the last week. I've been familiar with his excellent blog, Global Guerrillas, for some time now, but reading the framework that he's constructed for his own analyses has added a great deal of depth to my own understanding of his philosophy.

Brave New War is broken into three parts: "The Future of War is Now," "Global Guerrillas," and "How Globalization Will Put an End to Globaliz
Feb 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: History of War buffs, Ballard fans, people involved in tech start-ups or organizational structures
Recommended to Ryan by: Wayne Chambliss
I had a hard time reading this as straight current events; I kept slipping into reading it as a Ballard-ian dystopia or as business strategy. Robb is a kind of thinker that I relate to. Driven by analogy, ricocheting across different domains without respect for boundaries, less compelled to work out the messy details that form close the loop than seeding something crystalline and letting the expansion happen through aggregation. In a sense, this process is at the root of his case for the evoluti ...more
Jul 19, 2011 rated it liked it
This wasn't exactly what I was hoping for, based on reading his blog for awhile.

Although it has plenty of thought-provoking ideas and counter-mainstream tropes, it feels a bit scattershot -- almost like Robb glued a bunch of Global Guerillas blog posts together for a book.

A lack of specificity in a lot of instances hurts the analysis.

And given that this was written circa 2007, many of his more dire predictions haven't quite panned out. Which makes me wonder why. Is the time-course just wrong, or
Tom F
Mar 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I will first state that I agree with the quote on the front of the book, it is "a fast thought-sparking book."

I started reading John Robb's blogs a few years ago. I have come to appreciate his thinking on community self-sufficiency and his thoughts on security, terrorism, and such.

I wish I could say that I think the West will quickly and painlessly adapt to the current threats it faces. If anything, the current election seems to show we haven't even realized the problems. The book is ten years
Eric Gardner
Sep 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“I keep coming back to the way terrorism and guerrilla warfare is rapidly evolving,” John Robb writes in the preface of the paperback version, “to allow nonstate networks to challenge the structure and order of nation-states.” Brave New War is a book about terrorism but defines the structure of an interconnected world in regards to war, politics, and business. He argues that for the first time in modern history an outsider can not only fight a modern war--but win. This leaves established organiz ...more
Sep 24, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone desiring an understanding of guerrilla networks and global terrorist/criminal organizations
Recommended to Ramberto by: Required Reading for class
John Robb has an intimate understanding of guerrilla networks and global terrorist/criminal organizations, but makes light of the security reality of highly armed states threatening their neighbor states via conventional war (North/South Korea, China/Taiwan, India/Pakistan). His examples are dated and ignore the real security gains earned in Iraq over the last 18 months. While loose networks are difficult to defeat kinetically, winning the contest of wills is not impossible if a state is willing ...more
Sajid Ali
Aug 18, 2015 rated it liked it
I came across John Robb by reading his blog global guerrillas. The book is a condensed version of the topics he keeps referring to often in his blog. The book primarily deals with fourth generation warfare and explains why we will not see wars between nation states anytime soon. There is a lot of original thinking , though in some areas he predicted radical change to occur by 2016 which has not quite happened but the underlying currents have been predicted correctly.

more at :https://thefutureofh
Feb 15, 2009 rated it did not like it
I felt this book kept repeating itself and could have told me in about a 3 page journal article what it did in a 188 page book. I didn't finish the last 35 pages because I just couldn't read it anymore. I did find it interesting about the smaller attacks on infrastructure, rather than taking out the leader and calling it a day. It's also a little unnerving just how fragile every country really is.
Mike Gogulski
Jul 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Essential reading for its perspective and analysis, regardless of one's stance on Robb's motivations, predictions and prescriptions.
Joshua Carter
Jul 06, 2012 rated it it was ok
Robb discusses terrorism and defense against terrorism as the essence of modern warfare. On one level the book is alarmist and on another it is a practical guide to securing nation-states.
Paco Nathan
Jul 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: media, workplace, history
Loved this book. His blog is more current, even so the examples make the case for decentralization. I led a book salon discussion about John Robb's interview with Mark Pesce -- the subtext was "Are Facebook and China racing to become each other?"
Ted Smith
Feb 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
On War for the 21st century.
May 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
started out like dated futurism, but got more interesting as the book went on. i like the idea of building community-based systems resilience, ala prepping "lite".
Sep 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Prescient and thought-provoking. A great introduction to the concepts of resiliency and inter-disciplinary system dynamics on human organizations and terrorism to prompt further reading and research. Robb is not exactly 100% in his predictions (especially those with a time attached to them) but that's the nature of predicting.
Steven Peterson
Sep 24, 2009 rated it liked it
This is an interesting little book. I think that it may promise more than it delivers, but its lesson is right on. The Foreword relates a key part of the book's thesis (page ix): "[Examples:] involve the idea of turning the complexity and power of a developed modern economy from strengths to vulnerabilities."

For one thing, terrorists can use relatively inexpensive techniques to create huge problems. For instance, it cost al-Qaeda about $500,000 for the 9/11 attacks and cost the American economy
May 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Very interesting book, and this is backed up by a lot of the changed thinking coming out of the Pentagon after running essentially two failed large-scale counterinsurgencies.

The gist of the book has to do with Fourth Generation Warfare 4GW, the blurring of lines between politics, war, civilians, infrastructure. And also has to do with the increasing empowerment of small groups through things like ad hoc networks, emergent intelligence, open source warfare.

The bottom line is this is something wor
Jan 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Robb raises some very critical points concerning the evolution of warfare and the way it is conducted today, and also points out why it will be impossible for the world to survive as a system of nation-states in the waging of war in the future. Although the book was written in 2007, the basic tenets of his research bear repeating, and should be on everyone's reading list if they want to understand more about what we are facing in this age of terrorism. The demise of conventional warfare and the ...more
Thomas Vree
May 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
If he was still in the USAF, he might well have been one of the pilots that would have flown SEAL Team 6 into Pakistan, but now he is a one man think tank, delving into some really intriguing topics. BNW touches on Open Source Warfare, how small non-state groups are using off the shelf technology to wage war against much larger and more powerful enemies by attacking strategic and vulnerable system points, gaining large dividends for very small investments. Their development has been far more nim ...more
Martin Streetman
Jan 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: poly sci majors
This is one of the scariest books I have ever read. It has to do with superempowerment of bad guys, open source warfare, the future, current events, and the war on terror ET all. I think the author did a great with a huge topic and makes a case for the government not being the best at deal with the new and emerging threats to my way of life. In it he mentions about 100 books, authors and articles and makes me want to read them all. He also has an interesting blog at

Sep 23, 2007 rated it really liked it
Along with Kevin Phillips' American Theocracy, this book presents a bleak picture of the state of affairs for US diplomacy and war fighting. He also combines some excellent insights from Nassim Nicholas Taleb's The Black Swan, suggesting that events that will unravel the current, brittle U.S. infrastructure are both likely and unpredictable (the unknown unknowns). His prescription for decoupled, localized services built on a platform of shared standards is interesting, if perhaps totally unl ...more
H. Ryan
Jun 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
Think the world might end in the too-near future? Think there's nothing you can do about it? This little, concise, connected study of the danger of technology increasing the potential of small groups to do very not small harm is a scary whirlwind of thoughts about the future. Luckily, it's not written in the annoying doom-and-gloom style as much as an analysis and offers some ideas for future action. (I think this would be an excellent discussion book)
Apr 11, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a good introduction for those wanting to learn more about 4th generation warfare and would be worth reading in tandem with The Sling and the Stone by Thomas X. Hammes.

I was a little bit sceptical about his conclusions of mass civil unrest by the year 2016 and the collapse of China, some discussion of Clausewitz would have been nice but overall it's a good concise read about insurgency/terrorism and the role globalisation is playing in the modern world.
Feb 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: terrorism
Robb has some interesting ideas about the future of warfare, namely that "open source" warfare has/will replace conventional warfare. While I can't do his explanation justice, he basically contends that stateless networks will challenge states, by targeting infrastructure not in an attempt to overthrow them but to disrupt them. Thereby allowing groups to work for their own ends without state interference. Definitely worth reading.
Sep 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing
An amazing if unsettling analysis of the near future of 4th generation warfare and global conflict, applying systempunkt to system disruption via global guerrillas and open source warfare as nation-states hollow out. He prescribes a course for resilient communities to form, but I fear his final chapter may be too optimistic.

This has to go on my list of "5 books for understanding the future." His blog is also excellent reading, and available via RSS to livejournal and other readers.
Mar 09, 2011 rated it liked it
Interesting look at how technology and social organization have changed the nature of warfare. Essentially an argument that we're now in the era of postmodern conflict, where nobody may be able to claim territory permanently, but almost anybody working with a few devoted colleagues could carry out a catastrophic attack.
Dec 06, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: modern-warfare
This is basically an analysis of emerging "Fourth Generation Warfare" as it has been dubbed by greater thinkers than John Robb. He is essentially pointing out that state on state warfare is, and has been, for all intents and purposes over and is being replaced by decentralized combat against super-empowered non-state groups (insurgency).
Aug 17, 2011 rated it liked it
There is a lot of worthwhile material in here and I would recommend Robb's blog and other project. But there's something about the tone of the material that leaves me feeling less than entirely convinced.
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John is an author, inventor, entrepreneur, technology analyst, engineer, and military pilot. He's started numerous successful technology companies, including one in the financial sector that sold for $295 m and one that pioneered the software we currently see in use at Facebook and Twitter. John's insight on technology and governance has appeared on the BBC, Fox News, National Public Radio, CNBC, ...more
“Al-Qaeda doesn’t want to govern Iraq or Saudi Arabia. It wants to collapse them and exercise power through feudal relationships in the vacuum created by their failure.” 0 likes
“In OSW, the source code of warfare is available for anyone who is interested in both modifying and extending it. This means the tactics, weapons, strategies, target selection, planning methods, and team dynamics are all open to community improvement. Global guerrillas can hack at the source code of warfare to their hearts’ delight.” 0 likes
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