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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.

Critic Reviews

"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 Ratings

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  • Overall

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

  • Overall
  • Rand Vollmer
  • 20208 Heritage Point Drive, Tampa, FL 33647
  • 03-13-10

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

  • Overall

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

  • Overall

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

  • Overall
  • A
  • Summerville, SC, United States
  • 08-07-10

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

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COIN explained

brilliant book on the intricacies of COIN and how we need to continue to develop better responses to Takfiri extremist groups.

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  • Story

Unbelievable garbage

Poorly written dribble for content. I don't believe I actually paid good money for this.

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Excellent material. More people should know.

This book provides an excellent point of view, that is not often taken by decesion makers. I would love to see a sequel to this book that would put the years since this books publishing into reference.

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  • Story

Very informative for military personnel

He does an excellent job of analyzing insurgency. It is slightly drug out with much repetition on the same points. It could have been significantly shorter.

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  • Carroll
  • Hilo, HI, United States
  • 02-28-15

great insights, but delivery could improve

A timely, interesting topics... an author with good insights into viewing the challenges of this form of warfare.... but organized and delivered more like a dry Phd dissertation (which it may have been) than an informative piece to others who also have studied & fought the same insurgent sets. So new perspectives, but could have been delivered in a pithy means.

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  • Overall
  • Hector Chub
  • 10-15-11

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 2 people found this review helpful