This timely book offers a world history of insurgencies and of counterinsurgency warfare. Working beyond traditional Western-centric narrative, arguing that it is crucial to ground experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq in a global framework. Unlike other studies that begin with the American and French revolutions, this book reaches back to antiquity to trace the pre-modern origins of war. Interweaving thematic and chronological narratives, Black probes the enduring linkages between beliefs, events, and people on the one hand and changes over time on the other hand. He shows the extent to which politics, technologies, and ideologies have evolved, creating new parameters and paradigms that have framed both governmental and public views.
Tracing insurgencies ranging from China to Africa to Latin America, Black highlights the widely differing military and political dimensions of each conflict. He weighs how, and why, lessons were “learned” or, rather, asserted, in both insurgency and counterinsurgency warfare. At every stage, he considers lessons learned by contemporaries, the ways in which norms developed within militaries and societies, and their impact on doctrine and policy. His sweeping study of insurrectionary warfare and its counterinsurgency counterpart will be essential reading for all students of military history.
Jeremy Black is a pre-eminent military historian, thinker and strategist. His publications include The French and Napoleonic Wars, A History of Artillery, Importance of Being Poirot; The World of James Bond; and A History of the Second World War in 100 Maps. He is professor emeritus of history at the University of Exeter.
2 Insurgency to 1500
3 Contesting Religion and Power, 1500–1700
4 Entering the Modern? The Eighteenth Century
5 Insurgencies in an Age of Imperialism: The Nineteenth Century
6 The Ideology of People’s War Refracted, 1900–1940
7 Insurrections at a Height, 1940–60
8 The Fall of Empires, 1960–80
9 The Variety of Goals and Means, 1980s
10 After the Cold War, 1990s
11 Interventionism and Its Failings, 2000s
12 A World without Shape? The Situation since 2010
13 Speculations about the Future
Selected Further Reading
About the Author
Black brings methodological and historiographical sophistication to bear on a vast topic. His insights, grounded in a thorough examination of examples of insurgent warfare from ancient times to the present, will be valuable to military and social historians and to contemporary policy makers alike.
Dr. Black reminds us that insurgencies are not new but permeate history. The West would do well to take heed in Dr. Black’s conclusion: think global, historical, and flexible. This is military analysis at its most sobering and instructive
10/16/23: New Books Network podcast: Jeremy Black is interviewed and examined the Israeli-Hamas conflict in Israel and the Gaza Strip in historical perspective.