Beating Goliath: Why Insurgencies Win / Edition 1

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Beating Goliath examines the phenomenon of victories by the weak over the strong—more specifically, insurgencies that succeeded against great powers. Jeffrey Record reviews eleven insurgent wars from 1775 to the present and determines why the seemingly weaker side won. He concludes that external assistance correlates more consistently with insurgent success than any other explanation. He does not disparage the critical importance of will, strategy, and strong-side regime type or suggest that external assistance guarantees success. Indeed, in all cases, some combination of these factors is usually present. But Record finds few if any cases of unassisted insurgent victories except against the most decrepit regimes.

Having identified the ingredients of insurgent success, Record examines the present insurgency in Iraq and whether the United States can win. In so doing, Record employs a comparative analysis of the Vietnam War and the Iraq War. He also identifies and assesses the influence of distinctive features of the American way of war on the U.S. forces’ performance against the Iraqi insurgency.

Make no mistake: insurgent victories are the exception, not the rule. But when David does beat Goliath, the consequences can be earth shattering and change the course of history. Jeffrey Record’s persuasive logic and clear writing make this timely book a must read for scholars, policymakers, military strategists, and anyone interested in the Iraq War’s outcome.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Beating Goliath is relevant to both America’s current wars and to developing capabilities for future wars.”

“Record has given us a thoughtful, well-researched, historically based, look at a problem all too timely…Beating Goliath: Why Insurgencies Win stands as one of the best of the recent books on the evolving nature of insurgencies and the challenges they present.”

“This is a book well worth reading…highly recommended.”

"Record's well-chosen case studies highlight the common characteristics of successful insurgencies. . . .His analysis is persuasive and makes for a sobering read."

“This book is highly recommended to any national-level elected political officials, military personnel of all ranks, civil servants dealing with foreign policy or the Department of Defense and to any citizen who wants to know more than the popular media can give you. This is an excellent work.”

“This impressive book deserves a wide audience. Undergraduates and general readers will find this book to be an excellent introduction to the topic. The high level of analysis also makes this book essential reading for war-fighting practitioners and counterinsurgency specialists.”

"Record's Beating Goliath is a book everyone should read. Its insights into US public opinion and strategic culture, its analysis of the current US war in Iraq and its conclusions—cogently summing up the policy-relevant literature on asymmetrical conflict outcomes and counter-insurgency strategy—are among the best and most accessible of any of these subjects in print."

"This reflective critique, illuminated by historical insight, offers much for general readers, specialists, and policy makers to consider."

"The United States would be better off if more people read Jeffrey Record's insightful analysis—especially people in power. His analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the American way of war is by itself worth the price of the book."

"Beating Goliath is short, clear, interesting, and practical—that is, everything a book designed to change minds should be. It is also full of arguments and conclusions that will surprise many readers and would greatly improve America's decisions about when and how to commit military force. This is a valuable book for military professionals and the intelligent non-expert public alike."

"Beating Goliath is a small book that packs a big wallop. Jeffrey Record's explanation as to why insurgencies pose such a daunting challenge for powerful nations—especially for the United States—is succinct, incisive, and compelling."

"Through solid research and astute analysis, Dr. Record demonstrates that the United States is 'not particularly good' at precisely the type of armed conflict it expects to encounter in coming decades—counterinsurgency. This idea has immense repercussions for future American strategy. All policymakers, scholars, and citizens concerned with U.S. security should grapple with the implications of Beating Goliath."

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781597970907
  • Publisher: Potomac Books Inc.
  • Publication date: 5/30/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 1,381,954
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Jeffrey Record is a professor of strategy at the Air War College in Montgomery, Alabama. He is the author of Bounding the Global War on Terrorism (2004), Dark Victory: America’s Second War against Iraq(2004), and Beating Goliath: Why Insurgencies Win (Potomac Books, Inc., 2007). He served in Vietnam as a pacification adviser and received his doctorate from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. He lives in Atlanta.
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Table of Contents

Introduction vii

1 Explaining Goliath Defeats: Will, Strategy, and Type of Government 1

2 The Role of External Assistance 23

3 The Iraqi Insurgency: Vietnam Perspectives 67

4 The American Way: War Without Politics 103

5 The American Way: Search and Destroy 117

6 Conclusion 131

Notes 139

Glossary 159

Bibliography 161

Index 175

About the Author 180

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Well researched... a tough read

    Does great job analyzing the factors that lead to successful and unsuccessful insurgencies... I think critical for military and civilian leaders who have to grapple with fighting insurgencies like we are in Afghanistan and Iraq. The downside is that it reads like a "term paper" or a "thesis", so its best to read when wide awake in the mornign with a good cup of coffee.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2009

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