The Insurgents

David Petraeus and the Plot to Change the American Way of War

By Fred Kaplan
(Simon & Schuster, Paperback, 9781451642650, 432pp.)

Publication Date: January 7, 2014

Other Editions of This Title: Hardcover, Compact Disc, Compact Disc, MP3 CD

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Universally received as an important work by the best military analyst writing today, the inside story of the small group of soldier-scholars who—against fierce resistance from within their own ranks—changed the way the Pentagon does business and the American military fights wars. The insurgents made the US military more adaptive, but their self-confidence led us deeper into wars we would have done better to avoid.

Based on previously unavailable documents and interviews with more than 100 key characters, including the group’s ringleader, General David Petraeus, The Insurgents unfolds against the backdrop of two wars waged against insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan. But the main insurgency is the one led at home by a new generation of officers—Petraeus, John Nagl, David Kilcullen, and H.R. McMaster—who were seized with an idea on how to fight these kinds of “small wars,” and who adapted their enemies’ techniques to overhaul their own Army. Fred Kaplan explains where their idea came from and how the men and women who latched onto this idea created a community (some would refer to themselves as a “cabal”), which maneuvered the idea through the highest echelons of power.

This is a cautionary tale about how creative ideas can harden into dogma, how smart strategists—“the best and the brightest” of today—can win bureaucratic battles but still lose the wars.

About the Author

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.

Praise For The Insurgents

"There is no one better equipped to tell the story. ... Kaplan, a rare combination of defense intellectual and pugnacious reporter e knows the military world inside and out. ... An authoritative, gripping and somewhat terrifying account of how the American military approached two major wars in the combustible Islamic world."
-Thanassis Cambaniss

-Dexter Filkins

"Riveting...essential reading... Kaplan's meticulous account of the ways Petraeus found to bring together and nurture the counterinsurgency 'cabal' might profitably be read by anyone interested in bringing change to a giant bureaucracy."
-John Barry

eoeSerious and insightful. e The Insurgents seems destined to be one of the more significant looks at how the US pursued the war in Iraq and at the complex mind of the general in charge when the tide turned.e
-Tony Perry

"A very readable, thoroughly reported account of how, in American military circles, 'counterinsurgency' became a policy instead of a dirty word."
-Janet Maslin

eoeExcellent e Poignant and timely. e A good read, rich in texture and never less than wise.e
-Rosa Brooks

"A compelling story combined with thoughtful analysis of the development, application and limitations of a new model of applying American military power."

eoeFred Kaplan haswritten a dazzling, compulsively readablebook. Let's start with the fact that it is so well written, a quality so oftenlacking in books describing counterinsurgency.Let's also throw in the facts that it is both deeply researchedand also devoid of cheerleading for the military or indeed any other kind of political bias. This book will join a small shelf of the most important accounts of the wars America has foughtand will likelycontinue to fight in the 21st century.e
-Peter Bergen, author of Manhunt: the Ten-Year Search forBin Laden from 9/11 to Abbottabad

"Fred Kaplan is one of the best in the business, a top-notch journalist and military analyst with serious intellectual chops and a killer pen. His new book The Insurgents tells the story of the rise and fall of the COINdinistas from Iraq to Afghanistan and beyond, and it's not only a great reade"it's a major contribution to one of the most important strategic debates of our time.e
-Gideon Rose, editor, Foreign Affairs, and author of How Wars End

"A fascinating and powerful work by America's wisest national-security reporter about an epic battle: the Army's search for a way to win the wars of the 21st century. If you love your country, if you care about its soldiers, if you wonder about the wisdom of theircommanders,read this book now."
-Tim Weiner, author of Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA and Enemies: A History of the FBI

eoeFred Kaplan, one of the best military journalists we have, tells the compelling story of how a cadre of officers and civilians tried to rescue victory from defeat in Iraq and Afghanistan by putting the theory of counterinsurgency into practice, revolutionizing the US Army from within. His narrative is vividand revelatory, dramatizing a crucial piece of recent history that we shouldn't allow ourselves to forget, however painful the memory.e
-George Packer, author of The Assassinse(TM) Gate: America in Iraq

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