Paid Advertisement
Historynet/feed historynet feedback facebook link Weider History Group RSS feed Weider Subscriptions Historynet Home page

Book Review: Invisible Armies, by Max Boot

By HistoryNet Staff 
Originally published by Military History magazine. Published Online: May 01, 2013 
Print Friendly
3 comments FONT +  FONT -

Invisible Armies: An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare from Ancient Times to the Present, by Max Boot, Liveright Publishing, New York, 2013, $35

Invisible Armies, by Max Boot, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, is an authoritative and superbly written examination of the evolution of guerrilla warfare and its close cousin, terrorism. Boot contends these forms of warfare are more prevalent throughout history than conventional state-on-state conflict because they are inexpensive and do not require a great deal of skill to prosecute. This makes guerrilla warfare the perfect weapon for the weak and disenfranchised. Boot contends that, despite the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq and drawdown in Afghanistan, we have not seen the end of these wars. Precisely because the United States is so dominant in conventional war, likely enemies in the future will engage in irregular combat in an attempt to even the odds.

Subscribe Today

Subscribe to Military History magazine

Invisible Armies first examines guerrilla warfare in the ancient world, where Boot introduces the paradox of why guerrilla warfare, a weap-on of the weak, is so effective against organized militaries. He then examines revolutionaries, including rebels in the American Revolutionary War, Spanish guerrillas fighting Napoleonic armies and the Italian war for independence. Following chapters detail guerrilla conflicts contesting Western imperialism, the advent of international terrorism, guerrillas and commandos in the world wars, the wars of national liberation and rise of leftist revolutionaries after 1945, and the recent conflicts involving radical Islam. Boot provides context and color to each of these eras, along with a thorough examination of how guerrilla warfare and terrorism evolved in each period.

Boot has mined numerous archival sources and personal papers, as well as the copious secondary literature. He was also a frequent guest of senior commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan, and his observations add depth to his views on these conflicts. Boot sums up his findings in a conclusion entitled "Twelve Articles, or The Lessons of 5,000 Years." His comments on guerrilla war in this section, along with the meticulously researched database of guerrilla conflicts that follows, add immeasurably to our understanding of insurgencies and counterinsurgencies.

Invisible Armies is a book general readers will enjoy, and it should be mandatory reading for policy makers and military leaders, for, as Boot states in conclusion, "Only the dead have seen the end of guerrilla war."

—Peter Mansoor


Recommended

3 Responses to “Book Review: Invisible Armies, by Max Boot”


  1. 1

    [...] Book Review: Invisible Armies, by Max Boot (historynet.com) [...]

  2. 2
    Paul says:

    Dr Monsoor,

    What book on the subject is considered the best work for academics/serious scholars concerned with the subject of guerilla warfare and insurgencies, as you state this book is good for the general reader (of which I am one)?

    Thank you.

    Paul

  3. 3
    Brian says:

    I've been a big fan of Max Boot ever since I read his first book "Out of Order".

    His writing has improved by leaps and bounds ever since. But still I have fond memories of his first. I've read almost every book he's written, with the exception of his latest… "Savage Wars of Peace".

    I'll be getting to it soon enough though. You can find his whole repertoire on Amazon.



Leave a Reply

Human Verification: In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.


Related Articles


History Net Images Spacer
Paid Advertisement
Paid Advertisement
History Net Daily Activities
History net Spacer
History net Spacer
Historynet Spacer
HISTORYNET READERS' POLL

Which of these wars resulted in the most surprising underdog upset?

View Results | See previous polls

Loading ... Loading ...
History net Spacer
STAY CONNECTED WITH US
RSS Feed Daily Email Update
History net Spacer History net Spacer
Paid Advertisement

Paid Advertisement
What is HistoryNet?

The HistoryNet.com is brought to you by Weider History, the world's largest publisher of history magazines. HistoryNet.com contains daily features, photo galleries and over 5,000 articles originally published in our various magazines.

If you are interested in a specific history subject, try searching our archives, you are bound to find something to pique your interest.

From Our Magazines
Weider History

Weider History Network:  HistoryNet | Armchair General | Achtung Panzer! | StreamHistory.com
Today in History | Ask Mr. History | Picture of the Day | Daily History Quiz | Contact Us

Copyright © 2014 Weider History. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
Advertise With Us | Subscription Help | Privacy Policy