The Art of Insurgency: American Military Policy and the Failure of Strategy in Southeast Asia
Kara, Miles L., Sr., Naval War College Review
Hamilton, Donald W. The Art of Insurgency: American Military Policy and the Failure of Strategy in Southeast Asia. Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 1998. 216pp. $55
Donald Hamilton has written a textbook about the antecedents to, and the U.S. experience in, Vietnam. The reader should not be led astray by the title. The real subject of the book is the subtitle, American Military Policy and the Failure of Strategy in Southeast Asia.
Hamilton provides interesting historical insights into the American Vietnam experience. He also looks at the subject of insurgency with fresh eyes. The merger of Vietnam and insurgency in this book rekindles research that was done in the 1960s and 1970s about what insurgency really is. Readers primarily interested in learning more about the U.S. experience in Vietnam can safely skip over the insurgency discussion and proceed directly to the post-World War II material. Those interested in insurgency theory can profitably compare Hamilton's explanation of it to other attempts with which they might be familiar.
Still, Hamilton comes up short in two ways. The first is his insistence that insurgency is more a form of war than politics, and the second is his explanation, which incompletely reconstructs the work of Roger Darling ("A New Conceptual Scheme for Analyzing Insurgency," Military Review, February 1974). …