Theory and Reality

Dr Daniel Whittingham, Dr Stuart Mitchell

A concise account of the evolution of modern counterinsurgency strategies and tactics employed by armies.
Date Published :
June 2021
Publisher :
Illustration :
30 black and white photos and diagrams
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781612009483
Pages : 192
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : In stock
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Covers the development of modern insurgency, and the varied responses employed by western armies over the last century.

Counterinsurgency is defined as efforts to defeat and confine a rebellion against a constituted authority. While it has become a buzz-word in the last twenty years, it is as old as society itself. This concise history discusses the development of modern counterinsurgency over the last two hundred years, beginning with the origins of modern insurgency from the concept of ‘small wars’ and colonial warfare, through the ideas of early insurgents including Clausewitz and the theories of Lawrence of Arabia, to the methods of 20th-century insurgents, including Mao and Che Guevara.

It then examines a number of post-1945 insurgencies and how western armies have tried to counter them, in particular how the French tried to counter insurgencies in Indochina and Algeria, and then the US in Vietnam, and the reaction to the American experience there. This is compared with the British approach in the years after World War II, particularly in Malaya, but also in Kenya and Northern Ireland. Against that backdrop there is an examination of counterinsurgency in Afghanistan and Iraq, the rise of COIN literature, and the subsequent backlash against that literature. The book concludes with a discussion on the future of COIN.

About The Author

Daniel Whittingham is Lecturer in the History of Warfare and Conflict at the Department of History, University of Birmingham. He is interested in all aspects of the conduct of war, but with a particular focus on British military history, military thought and strategy. His main research interests are British colonial warfare in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, counterinsurgency, the First World War and the Second World War.

Stuart Mitchell is Senior Lecturer at the Department of War Studies, Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. He has taught counterinsurgency to the British Army for several years as well as to overseas personnel on diplomatic visits.


" excellent account of the components of effectiveness in counterinsurgency campaigns."

- Perspectives on Terrorism

"The authors’ willingness to take stock of counterinsurgency efforts by U.S. and NATO forces in Iraq and Afghanistan assumes a greater importance now with the U.S. exit from Afghanistan and the ensuing questions regarding who won there and, by extension, who won the war on terror."

- Journal of Military History

"Daniel Whittingham and Stuart Mitchell have written a succinct and helpful primer for both students and scholars seeking a starting point into a vitally important topic."

- Michigan War Studies Review

"…concise introduction to modern counterinsurgency, involving the methods and tactics that those currently serving will immediately recognise. […] a fairly academic overview of the subject, but it’s concise format ensures that the tempo of reading remains manageable."

- Royal Anglian News

"...highly recommended as a valuable yardstick in successfully waging counterinsurgency campaigns."

- The Washington Times

"This is an excellent account of the components of effectiveness in counterinsurgency campaigns...accompanied by a valuable discussion of the evolution of counterinsurgency doctrines in the British and American militaries."

- Journal of Counterterrorism & Homeland Security International

"Counterinsurgency: Theory and Reality reminds us that historical context matters. What worked in the past may not necessarily work in the present and even the most well-intentioned and enlightened counterinsurgency theories rely to a large extent on force and violence."

- Vietnam Magazine

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