Victorious Insurgencies: Four Rebellions That Shaped Our World

Victorious Insurgencies: Four Rebellions That Shaped Our World

Victorious Insurgencies: Four Rebellions That Shaped Our World

Victorious Insurgencies: Four Rebellions That Shaped Our World


Insurgencies, especially in the form of guerrilla warfare, continue to erupt across many parts of the globe. Most of these rebellions fail, but Four Rebellions that Shaped Our World analyzes four twentieth-century conflicts in which the success of the insurgents permanently altered the global political arena: the Maoists in China against Chiang Kai-shek and the Japanese in the 1930s and 1940s; the Viet Minh in French Indochina from 1945 to 1954; Castro's followers against Batista in Cuba from 1956 to 1959; and the mujahideen in Soviet Afghanistan from 1980 to 1989.Anthony James Joes illuminates patterns of failed counterinsurgencies that include serious but avoidable political and military blunders and makes clear the critical and often decisive influence of the international setting. Offering provocative insights and timeless lessons applicable to contemporary conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, this authoritative and comprehensive book will be of great interest to policy-makers and concerned citizens alike.


This book is about four insurgencies whose success changed the structure of world politics.

For the past six decades, the most common type of conflict has been insurgency, in the form of guerrilla war. Today, such conflicts rage all across the globe, from South Asia to South America, from Sinkiang to Sudan. An influential student of insurgency warned long ago that “guerrilla warfare is what regular armies always have most to dread, and when this is directed by a leader with a genius for war, an effective campaign becomes well-nigh impossible.” All major military powers have had difficult, sometimes disastrous, experiences fighting guerrillas. Consider just the French in the Vendée, Spain (where Napoleon lost more soldiers than in Russia), and Vietnam; the British in the Carolinas, South Africa, Cyprus, and Northern Ireland; the Germans in Yugoslavia; the Japanese in China; the Soviets in Afghanistan; the Russians in Chechnya; and, irony of ironies, the Communist Vietnamese in Cambodia.

The question of how to deal effectively with such conflicts has absorbed much attention from the U.S. military in recent years. It is not entirely clear, however, that after a great deal of earnest effort, the United States is really much better prepared to wage successful counterinsurgency today than it was a decade ago. Even the new Army/Marine Counterinsurgency Field Manual has received some searing criticism.

The clichés, errors, and shibboleths that dominated American discourse about America’s South Vietnam experience distorted U.S.

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