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The Accidental Guerrilla: Fighting Small Wars in the Midst of a Big One | [David Kilcullen]

The Accidental Guerrilla: Fighting Small Wars in the Midst of a Big One

David Kilcullen is one of the world's most influential experts on counterinsurgency and modern warfare. A senior counterinsurgency advisor to General David Petraeus in Iraq, his vision of war dramatically influenced America's decision to rethink its military strategy in Iraq and implement "the surge."Now, in The Accidental Guerrilla, Kilcullen provides a remarkably fresh perspective on the War on Terror.
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Publisher's Summary

David Kilcullen is one of the world's most influential experts on counterinsurgency and modern warfare. A senior counterinsurgency advisor to General David Petraeus in Iraq, his vision of war dramatically influenced America's decision to rethink its military strategy in Iraq and implement "the surge". Now, 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, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Chechnya, Pakistan, and North Africa.

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. 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 much anticipated book will be a must listen for everyone concerned about the war on terror.

©2009 David Kilcullen; (P)2009 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (122 )
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4.2 (55 )
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4.1 (57 )
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  •  
    Krista M. Haas 06-18-10 Member Since 2001
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    "Excellent if advanced"

    A must read for anyone interested in the incredibly complex conflicts we face now and will likely face in the future. Few have the experience or pedigree in counter-insurgency that Kilcullen can boast. A great follow up to Tom Rick's "The Gamble", which might be considered an introductory text. Kilcullen's work is significantly more complex, yet manages to remain engaging.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rand Vollmer 20208 Heritage Point Drive, Tampa, FL 33647 03-13-10
    Rand Vollmer 20208 Heritage Point Drive, Tampa, FL 33647 03-13-10 Member Since 2000
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    "A must read for military and politicians"

    Kilcullen makes sense of the asymmetric battlefield: what works, what does not, and why. Anyone who has been or will be going to Iraq or Afghanistan will appreciate this work. All of our politicians need to read this book. Others may find it boring in part because the reader reads very precisely (slowly), including a painful reading of hundreds of acronyms at the beginning that no one will remember anyway – this makes sense in the written version as a reference, but should not have been included in the audible version. Minor error: MNFI is Multi National Forces Iraq, not Multi National Forces One. Kilcullen deserves 5 stars – packaging of his spoken version cost him a star.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patrick Honolulu, Hawaii 01-28-10
    Patrick Honolulu, Hawaii 01-28-10 Member Since 2009
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    "A Must Read For Students of Warfare"

    Highly recommended! The author is a major player in developing military strategy in today's US wars. His theory and recommendations are just now being implemented by the US military and the US government. This is a must read for anyone deploying in support of today's military conflicts around the world. You will want to listen to the conclusions several times!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    michael Brisbane, Australia 10-03-10
    michael Brisbane, Australia 10-03-10 Member Since 2010
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    "Facinating Insight"

    An enjoyable and easy to follow audio book which provided remarkable insight into counter insurgency tactics. The book was well read and laid out. Highly recommended for anyone trying to make sense of insurgencies in play across the globe.

    A must.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    A Summerville, SC, United States 08-07-10
    A Summerville, SC, United States 08-07-10 Member Since 2009
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    "Must read (listen)"

    Quality of audio: excellent
    Quality of Narration: superb (Peter Ganim)
    This is not the same narrator who read the acronyms at the beginning. There was another narration on Audible a while back that was awful. This narrator is great.

    This is so good, I bought the hardcover.


    Kilcullen provides a very thorough and comprehensive study of why we have so many zanies fighting us. The text flows nicely, but there are many details so this book is probably for people who have a pretty good understanding of Islamic fundamentalism, the situation in Afghanistan/Iraq, and geography.

    The quality of writing is excellent, and this means long complex sentences. So listening to this book means paying close attention. I listen on long drives and if I have to pay too close attention to the traffic, I find I've got to rewind to catch what I've missed.


    Did you notice that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs recently started the AfPak Hands program??? That program would be the obvious next step to take if you read Accidental Guerilla. Concur with previous comment that this book is a natural follow on to The Gamble for those who are students of Counterinsurgency (COIN).

    The good news is that there are brilliant soldiers like Kilcullen who not only serve their nations, but go on to serve the world, AND take the time to write about it so the rest of us can be in the loop. And he's not just a ground pounder, but a brilliant thinker who can express himself beautifully in the written word.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    C. Sneed Fort Belvoir, VA, United States 09-22-12
    C. Sneed Fort Belvoir, VA, United States 09-22-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Content excellent, though dry. Narration terrible"

    I'm trying to figure out if this is a human or a computer narrating. He ruins the book. Not the easiest book to narrate, but he fails.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stephen 07-21-11
    Stephen 07-21-11 Member Since 2012
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    "Counterinsurgency Primer"

    The author brings a great depth and knowledge to the subject of counterinsurgency. He draws from a vast experience from his Army personal days in Indonesia and as a contractor / government official in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. He is treatise is that counterinsurgency is more about support of governance versus support to military operations. The latter, the camp that believe solely military operations were the key and primary element and reconstruction was after thought, is not really embrace by anyone in the long run in counterinsurgency or stability operations. The former is in vogue and does address the issues of getting the local community involved but ignores security or kinetic operations that are the only immediate cure for the insurgent who comes from the outside. The book does not address the hybrid theory that is now being develop that recognizes that security operations provide the environment for successful counterinsurgency and reconstruction / politics provide the long-term fix.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gerard Marblehead, MA, USA 06-17-10
    Gerard Marblehead, MA, USA 06-17-10 Member Since 2001
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    "Excellent content but the narration is lifeless"

    The text provides excellent, knowledgeable and detailed information on the challenges, difficulties, and potential approaches to counterinsurgency. However, it was painful to listen to as the narration was utterly monotone and soporific.

    Admittedly, something of this nature is hardly easy to read, but even a little animation in the narration would have helped. I recommend the book or ebook version instead.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John ARLINGTON, VA, United States 12-12-10
    John ARLINGTON, VA, United States 12-12-10
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    "Not What I Expected"

    I purchased this book in part because of the distinguished pedigree of the author. I was looking for a factual, unbiased look at the insurgency and counterinsurgency strategies and techniques employed in the local conflicts of the past two decades. While I acknowledge the authors experience, I was extremely disappointed in the way he chose to “interpret” the experiences.
    I find it very difficult to learn from authors who have a need to tell me how accurate they have been in the past with regard to opinions about events and the conduct of US Foreign Policy. If I am interested in US Foreign policy strategies over the last decades, this author would certainly not be the one I would turn to so I found this a very difficult read when I had to wade through the many self-accolades and declarations of brilliant advice that permeated this book. As I read the first half of the book I was looking for this author’s experiences and factual reporting of recent insurgencies, but by the second half of the book I was convinced that there was a coloring of these experiences and that I was not reading an totally unbiased view of historical events.
    By the end of the book, “Iraq was a conflict that never should have happened”, the authors agenda was clear and without doubt bolstered the concern that I had up to that point to the level of disappointment that I had spent the time to read most of this political essay.
    If you are looking for a description of events through the viewpoint of a particular political lense, you may enjoy this read. If you are looking for unbiased insight into insurgency and counterinsurgency strategy and tactics, you too will be disappointed in this book.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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  • Neil
    Newport, Australia
    10/15/11
    Overall
    "Stop. Please stop!"

    Kilcullen is obviously incredibly intelligent, well informed and on the ball when it come to insurgency. The go to guy, but I couldn't listen to more than a couple of hours of this tortuous political science babble. Sorry. I know this is important stuff - but I just couldn't take it anymore






    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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