The Art Of Insurgency

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In his analysis of insurgency war, Donald Hamilton first attempts to provide insight into a strategic concept he believes is little understood today, and to explain its complicated relationship to American policy failures in Southeast Asia during the post-1945 era of containment. The study develops a working model of insurgency, explaining it as both a unique method and type of war-making. Significant findings include the inability of policymakers to perceive a potential insurgency in Vietnam as early as 1946, subsequent American involvement in not one, but three Asian insurgencies during the 1950s, and the ultimate failure of the U.S. military to meet the insurgency challenge in South Vietnam. This inability to eliminate the insurgency led not only to the complete breakdown of the South Vietnamese government, but was the primary reason why further U.S. military action after 1965 would prove ineffectual. This historical narrative also follows the involvement of several key players, including the personalities of Edward Lansdale, Sir Robert Thompson, Archimedes Patti, and Vo Nguyen Giap, who through their life experiences and writings, provide a keen profundity into why insurgencies occur, why they fail, and why they succeed.

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Editorial Reviews

Historian and former US military officer Hamilton argues that, though the political and social situation back in the US certainly had a large impact on the outcome of the Vietnam War, the fact remains that the military proved incapable of winning an insurgency war on the ground. He says that blaming outside factors has allowed the military to retain the same understanding of insurgency that was obviously flawed when the war began. He draws on such thinkers as Jomini, Clausewitz, Lidell Hart, and Sun Tzu to begin the neglected analysis. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780275957346
  • Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 1/30/1998
  • Pages: 212
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

DONALD W. HAMILTON is Professor of History at Mesa College and serves as a reserve officer in the U.S. military.

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Table of Contents

Insurgency and American Military Doctrine: An Introduction 1
1 Explaining Insurgency 13
2 An Analysis of Two Postwar Asian Insurgencies 39
3 The First Vietnamese Insurgency, 1945-1954 65
4 Seeds of American Commitment 87
5 The Second Vietnamese Insurgency: Phase One 97
6 The Second Vietnamese Insurgency: Phase Two 115
7 Secondary Insurgency and the American Reaction 129
Summary Notes on Lessons of a Failed Strategy 155
Abbreviations 163
Selected Bibliography 165
Index 177
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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2003

    Truly a superb and important work!

    This book should be read not only by all those interested in military history and the Vietnam war, but particularly by those interested in understanding better the circumstances facing the United States and its allies today in the war on terrorism. Hamilton's insights on insurgent organizations, terror cells, and strategic design in historical context, can be well applied by policy makers today in understanding the depth of problems now being faced. Lessons learned then would not need to be repeated as mistakes today. This book is not overwhelming in repetitious fact finding, and Hamilton's conservative writing style is appreciated. Academics will also enjoy the marvelous research and constructed bibliography. Recommended to all readers interested in like subjects related to contemporary military strategic thought and history, and to government officials of the highest rank.

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