The Counterinsurgent Imagination

The Counterinsurgent Imagination : A New Intellectual History

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Counterinsurgency, the violent suppression of armed insurrection, is among the dominant kinds of war in contemporary world politics. Often linked to protecting populations and reconstructing legitimate political orders, it has appeared in other times and places in very different forms - and has taken on a range of politics in doing so. How did it arrive at its present form, and what generated these others, along the way? Spanning several centuries and four detailed case studies, The Counterinsurgent Imagination unpacks and explores this intellectual history through counterinsurgency manuals. These military theoretical and instructional texts, and the practitioners who produced them, made counterinsurgency possible in practice. By interrogating these processes, this book explains how counter-insurrectionary war eventually took on its late twentieth and early twenty-first century forms. It shows how and why counterinsurgent ideas persist, despite recurring failures.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 300 pages
  • 152.4 x 228.6 x 17.02mm | 434g
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Worked examples or Exercises
  • 1009225820
  • 9781009225823
  • 1,188,126

Table of contents

1. Introduction; 2. Counterrevolutionary war, early modernity to present; 3. Johann Ewald in America; 4. C. E. Callwell and the British empire; 5. David Galula in Algeria; 6. Field manual 3-24 and the Iraq war; 7. Conclusion; References.
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Review quote

'This is a fascinating re-reading of counterinsurgency field manuals as a form of conservative, high modern utopianism. Often reactionary, always violent, these documents and the wars they authorise are conservative and world-making projects of empire. This is an important addition to the critical literature on counterrevolutionary war.' Patricia Owen, Professor of International Relations, University of Oxford
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About Joseph Mackay

Joseph MacKay is a Fellow in the Department of International Relations, Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs, Australian National University. He works on historical international security, international hierarchies, and the history of international thought.
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