Inside Insurgency: Violence, Civilians, and Revolutionary Group Behavior

Inside Insurgency: Violence, Civilians, and Revolutionary Group Behavior

Inside Insurgency: Violence, Civilians, and Revolutionary Group Behavior

Inside Insurgency: Violence, Civilians, and Revolutionary Group Behavior


Once considered nationalists, many insurgent groups are now labeled as terrorists and thought to endanger not just their own people, but the world. As the unprecedented trends in political violence among insurgents have taken shape, and as hundreds of thousands of civilians continue to be displaced, brutalized, and killed, Inside Insurgency provides startling insights that help to explain the nature of insurgent behavior.

Claire Metelits draws from over 100 interviews with insurgent soldiers, commanders, government officials, scholars, and civilians in Sudan, Kenya, Colombia, Turkey, and Iraq, offering a new understanding of insurgent group behavior and providing compelling and intimate portraits of the SPLA, FARC, and PKK. The engaging narratives that emerge from her on-the-ground fieldwork provide incredibly valuable and accurate first-hand documentation of the tactics of some of the world's most notorious insurgent groups. Inside Insurgency offers the reader a timely and intimate understanding of these movements, and explains the changing behavior of insurgent groups toward the civilians they claim to represent.


When folks find out what, or more specifically whom, I study, I get either one of two questions: “Why do you study insurgents?” or “How do you study insurgents?” the questions are usually more along the lines of, “Why the !!!! do you study them?” or “How the #! do you get into those places?” These are often accompanied by comments on my sanity or (on the odd occasion) suspicions about my patriotism. the “how” is a matter for another time—or if you are a student of mine, you’ve already heard my stories on more than a few occasions. the “why,” however, is somewhat more convoluted, but—I hope—no less interesting.

My first experience traveling outside the United States was in apartheid-era South Africa. I was nineteen years old. An uncle of mine—a Foreign Service officer who at the time had no children of his own— had years before promised me and my two younger siblings that when we were old enough he would take us each on a trip outside the United States. (I imagine he wanted our cultural horizons to expand beyond our hometown of Phoenix, Arizona.) Upon finishing my first rather tumultuous year of college as a journalism student, I wrote to my uncle and told him I was ready for my trip. “To where are we going?” he inquired. “South Africa,” I wrote.

Still very far from discovering political science, I nevertheless was fascinated by the politics of South Africa in 1993. One could say my interests were more along the lines of social activism. Making good on his promise, my uncle (on a much-needed break from war-torn Angola) met me in Johannesburg for what would be a month-long traipse around the country. He had devised a detailed and elaborate itinerary filled with what to most people would be wonderful tourist destinations. However, as we whisked through animal parks, the wine country, and diamond-mining communities, I could not pull my eyes or my curiosity from other, more obvious elements of the place: the people and the conditions. Instead of photo albums filled with pictures of Krueger National Park and gorgeous . . .

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