The Insurgents: David Petraeus and the Plot to Change the American Way of War

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Simon and Schuster, Jan 2, 2013 - History - 418 pages
23 Reviews
A finalist for the Pulitzer Prize

The Insurgents is the inside story of the small group of soldier-scholars, led by General David Petraeus, who plotted to revolutionize one of the largest, oldest, and most hidebound institutions—the United States military. Their aim was to build a new Army that could fight the new kind of war in the post–Cold War age: not massive wars on vast battlefields, but “small wars” in cities and villages, against insurgents and terrorists. These would be wars not only of fighting but of “nation building,” often not of necessity but of choice.

Based on secret documents, private emails, and interviews with more than one hundred key characters, including Petraeus, the tale unfolds against the backdrop of the wars against insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan. But the main insurgency is the one mounted at home by ambitious, self-consciously intellectual officers—Petraeus, John Nagl, H. R. McMaster, and others—many of them classmates or colleagues in West Point’s Social Science Department who rose through the ranks, seized with an idea of how to fight these wars better. Amid the crisis, they forged a community (some of them called it a cabal or mafia) and adapted their enemies’ techniques to overhaul the culture and institutions of their own Army.

Fred Kaplan describes how these men and women maneuvered the idea through the bureaucracy and made it official policy. This is a story of power, politics, ideas, and personalities—and how they converged to reshape the twenty-first-century American military. But it is also a cautionary tale about how creative doctrine can harden into dogma, how smart strategists—today’s “best and brightest”—can win the battles at home but not the wars abroad. Petraeus and his fellow insurgents made the US military more adaptive to the conflicts of the modern era, but they also created the tools—and made it more tempting—for political leaders to wade into wars that they would be wise to avoid.
  

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Review: The Insurgents: David Petraeus and the Plot to Change the American Way of War

User Review  - Daniel Landsman - Goodreads

Overall, 3.5 stars. A good book that was relatively faced paced for its genre. Kaplan did a solid job capturing the events that he set out to capture. However, I believe that his conclusions were a ... Read full review

Review: The Insurgents: David Petraeus and the Plot to Change the American Way of War

User Review  - Zbhall - Goodreads

It could use an update to do more analysis now with more hindsight of Iraq/Afghanistan. The book is also way too fawning over Patraeus. Read full review

All 2 reviews »

Contents

What We Need Is an Officer with Three Heads_ __________________ H I
11
Eating Soup With a Knife?
35
The Insurgent at War
61
The lrregulrlrs
79
Wheres My Counterinsurgency PlanV
94
The Basin Harbor Gang
108
The Insurgent in the Engine Room of Change _ ___________________ __ I 26
153
Hearts Minds I 66
166
Clear Hold and Build t I9 I
191
We Are Pulling in DilTerent Directions
204
The Surge
223
Awakenings
244
97
330
9 9
401
Copyright

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About the author (2013)

Fred Kaplan writes the “War Stories” column in Slate and has also written many articles on politics and culture in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and many other publications. A former Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for The Boston Globe, he is also the author of 1959, Daydream Believers, and The Wizards of Armageddon. He graduated from Oberlin College and has a PhD from MIT. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, Brooke Gladstone.

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