7 Deadly Scenarios: A Military Futurist Explores War in the 21st Century,
by Andrew F. Krepinevich. New York: Bantam Dell, 2009.
Krepinevich tracks the paths of seven potential crises, including the collapse of Pakistan, a worldwide cyber attack, or civil unrest in China, and examines the resulting actions and counteractions of the world’s players in a not-too-distant, or unlikely, future.
The Accidental Guerrilla: Fighting Small Wars in the Midst of a Big One,
by David Kilcullen. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.
Kilcullen sees today's conflicts as a complex pairing of contrasting trends: local social networks and worldwide movements; traditional and postmodern culture; local insurgencies seeking autonomy and a broader pan-Islamic campaign. The United States must learn how to disentangle these strands, develop strategies that deal with global threats, avoid local conflicts where possible, and win them where necessary.
Almost a Miracle: The American Victory in the War of Independence,
by John E. Ferling. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.
JFSC faculty members recommend Ferling’s book on the American Revolution as" one of the best structured books on the strategic and operational levels of war," particularly for its focus on the Battle of Yorktown.
The Bear Went over the Mountain: Soviet Combat Tactics in Afghanistan,
by Lester W. Grau. Washington: National Defense University Press, 1995.
These vignettes, written by junior officers about their experiences fighting the Mujahideen guerrillas in Afghanistan, served as a Soviet military textbook on mountain-desert terrain combat. The text continues to provide valuable lessons learned to today’s fighting forces.
Chasing Ghosts: Unconventional Warfare in American History,
by John J. Tierney. Washington: Potomac Books, 2006.
John J. Tierney examines America’s numerous past experiences with unconventional warfare from the Revolutionary War, when American irregulars fought the British and Loyalists, through the Vietnam War, which involved the U.S. military in its largest-ever counterinsurgency campaigns. The book also includes cases on guerrilla fighting during the American Civil War, the Philippine Insurrection, and U.S. occupations of the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Nicaragua.
Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice,
by David Galula. New York: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2006.
Written by a French military officer who served in World War II, China, Greece, and Algeria, this is considered the classic text on counterinsurgency. Though originally published in 1964, contemporary reviewers (Daly, Killebrew, Hammes) see great value in applying its concepts to today’s wars. Concisely written, the chapters of this short book address the nature of revolutionary war, insurgency, counterinsurgency, strategy and tactics, and a step-by-step guide to defeating the insurgents, influencing and controlling the population, and establishing political stability. For emphasis, LTC Galula cites historical examples and his own various experiences throughout the book.
D-Day: The Battle for Normandy,
by Anthony Beevor. New York: Viking, 2009.
The Normandy invasion is regarded as the most successful joint combined operation in recent history. In this comprehensive account, the author painstakingly chronicles the operational history of the invasion. He also describes not only the experiences of the American, British, Canadian and German soldiers but those of the French civilians caught up in the struggle which led to the liberation of Paris.
by Robert Kagan. New York: Vintage, 2007.
Arguing with those who view the United States as an isolationist power until the twentieth century, Kagan contends that the United States has perceived itself as an international force from its very beginnings. Commercial, territorial, and idealistic ambitions have driven its foreign policy and its rise as a global power.
Dereliction of Duty: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies that Led to Vietnam,
by H.R. McMaster. New York: Harper Perennial, 1998.
Dereliction of Duty is an analysis of how and why the United States became involved in an all-out war in Southeast Asia. Fully researched, based on recently released transcripts and personal accounts of crucial meetings, confrontations and decisions, it re-creates what happened and why. It also pinpoints the policies and decisions that got the United States into a quagmire and reveals who made these decisions and the motives behind them, including President Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, General Maxwell Taylor, McGeorge Bundy and others.
The Fourth Star: Four Generals and the Epic Struggle for the Future of the United States Army,
by David Cloud and Greg Jaffe. New York: Crown, 2009.
The story of how the most powerful military force in the world entered a major war unprepared, and how the Army, drawing on the talents of four exceptional soldiers, saved itself from crushing defeat against a ruthless, low-tech foe.
The Gamble: General David Petraeus and the American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2006-2008,
by Thomas E. Ricks. New York: Penguin Press, 2009.
Using hundreds of hours of interviews with military officers and on-the-ground reportage, Ricks documents the inside story of the Iraq War since late 2005 and examines the events that led to the launching of the surge and the beginning of a very different war.
Horse Soldiers: The Extraordinary Story of a Band of U.S. Soldiers Who Rode to Victory in Afghanistan,
by Doug Stanton. New York: Scribner, 2009.
Horse Soldiers is the dramatic account of a small band of Special Forces soldiers who secretly entered Afghanistan following 9/11 and rode to war on horses against the Taliban. Outnumbered forty to one, they pursued the enemy across mountainous terrain and, after a series of intense battles, captured the city of Mazar-i-Sharif, which proved strategically essential in the defeat of the Taliban.
Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam,
by John A. Nagl. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005.
Nagl argues that organizational culture is key to the ability to learn from unanticipated conditions. He compares the Malayan Emergency and the Vietnam War and explains why the British army successfully conducted counterinsurgency in Malaya and why the American army failed to do so in Vietnam, treating the war instead as a conventional conflict.
The New Counterinsurgency Era: Transforming the U.S. Military for Modern Wars,
by David H. Ucko. Washington: Georgetown University Press, 2009.
David Ucko examines the Department of Defense’s institutional obstacles and initially slow response to the changing strategic reality of modern warfare. He also suggests how the military can better prepare for the unique challenges of conducting counterinsurgency operations: from providing security to supporting reconstruction to establishing basic governance – all the while continuing to stabilize conquered territory and engage with local populations.
A Question of Command: Counterinsurgency from the Civil War to Iraq,
by Mark Moyar. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009.
Mark Moyar assails the conventional wisdom that the key to defeating insurgents is selecting methods that will win the people’s hearts and minds. Instead, he asserts that the key is selecting commanders who have superior leadership abilities. Moyar identifies the ten critical attributes of counterinsurgency leadership and explains how the U.S. military and America’s allies in Afghanistan and Iraq should revamp their personnel systems in order to elevate more individuals with those attributes.
Swords and Ploughshares: Building Peace in the 21st Century,
by Paddy Ashdown. London: Phoenix, 2008.
How can it be ensured that current missions in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Balkans, and other similar peacekeeping missions do not turn into long-term entanglements? Paddy Ashdown, a former Marine and diplomat, contends that the way to stop the big wars is to deal promptly with the small ones. In this study, Lord Ashdown investigates the successes and failures of peacekeeping operations and the lessons that have been learned, as well as the lessons that are repeatedly forgotten.
Tell Me How This Ends: General David Petraeus and the Search for a Way Out of Iraq,
by Linda Robinson. New York: PublicAffairs, 2008.
After a series of disastrous missteps in its conduct of the war, the White House in 2006 appointed General David Petraeus as the Commanding General of the coalition forces. Tell Me How This Ends is an inside account of his attempt to turn around a failing war. Linda Robinson conducted extensive interviews with Petraeus and his subordinate commanders and spent weeks with key U.S. and Iraqi divisions. Her book ties together military operations in Iraq and the internecine political drama at the heart of the civil war.
Terror and Consent: The Wars for the Twenty-first Century,
by Philip Bobbitt. New York: A.A. Knopf, 2008.
In this controversial analysis of the roots of modern terrorism, Bobbitt contends that its primary driver is not Islam but the emergence of market states (like the U.S. and the E.U.). He warns of an era where weapons of mass destruction will be "commodified" and the wealthiest societies even more vulnerable to destabilizing, demoralizing terror.
Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Fight Terrorism and Build Nations – One School at a Time,
by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. New York: Viking, 2006.
"The astonishing, uplifting story of a real-life Indiana Jones and his humanitarian campaign to use education to combat terrorism in the Taliban’s backyard."
Victory on the Potomac: The Goldwater-Nichols Act Unifies the Pentagon,
by James R. Locher. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2002.
"A comprehensive account of the battle to make the GNA a reality. Skillfully bringing to life not only the players but also the issues, Mr. Locher, who was a prime mover in framing the legislation that resulted in Goldwater-Nichols, has written the definitive history of the Act."
Who Are We? The Challenges to America’s National Identity,
by Samuel P. Huntington. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2005.
Huntington examines the impact other civilizations and their values are having on the United States and argues the need to reassert the core values that define American culture.
Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the Twenty-first Century,
by P.W. Singer. New York: Penguin Press, 2009.
A military expert explores the greatest revolution in military affairs since the atom bomb—the advent of robotic warfare. Singer contends that as these technologies multiply, they will have profound effects on the front lines as well as on the politics back home.
Last Updated: 24 March 2010