Invisible Armies: An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare from Ancient Times to the Present

Max Boot (Author)


Beginning with the first insurgencies in the ancient world--when Alexander the Great discovered that fleet nomads were harder to defeat than massive conventional armies--Max Boot, best-selling author and military advisor in Iraq and Afghanistan, masterfully guides us from the Jewish rebellion against the Roman Empire up through the horrors of the French-Indochina War and the shadowy, post-9/11 battlefields of today. Relying on a diverse cast of unforgettable characters--not only Mao and Che but also the legendary Italian nationalist Giuseppe Garibaldi, the archaeologist-turned-military commander T. E. Lawrence, and the "Quiet American" Edward Lansdale, among others--Boot explodes everything we thought we knew about unconventional combat. The result is both an enthralling read and our most important work on nontraditional warfare.

Product Details

Liveright Publishing Corporation
Publish Date
January 15, 2013
6.62 X 1.9 X 9.45 inches | 2.79 pounds

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About the Author

Max Boot is a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, a columnist for the Washington Post, and a global affairs analyst for CNN. His most recent book is the New York Times bestseller The Road Not Taken: Edward Lansdale and the American Tragedy in Vietnam.


A penetrating writer and thinker.
[A] comprehensive history of guerrilla warfare, breezily written and chock-full of perceptive insights.... [Boot] has a great feel for details...a mighty impressive achievement, one that should be a bible for policymakers everywhere in the civilized world.--Steve Forbes
A sweeping panorama that ranges over a vast terrain... thoughtful, smart, fluent, with an eye for the good story.--Mark Mazover
Fascinating. . . . Beginning with the barbarians at the gates of the Roman Empire, a wonderful and valuable historic narrative filled with colorful characters.--Walter Isaacson
[D]estined to be the classic account of what may be the oldest as well as the hardest form of war.--John Nagl
An expansive nuts-and-bolts historical survey from a keen military mind.
...[I]mpressively researched, astutely synthesized, and eminently readable.
Lively.... A timely reminder to politicians and generals of the hard-earned lessons of history.
Enormous, brilliant, and important...should be required reading in the White House and Pentagon.... Lucid, enlightening, and highly readable.--Michael Korda
[B]rilliantly sums up the lessons of the centuries.--Martin Walker
[C]ool and balanced.--John Gray
[A] rich and enthralling history of guerrilla warfare.--Jay Winik, author of April 1865 and The Great Upheaval
A magisterial overview of insurgency and counterinsurgency, peppered with fascinating personalities. The author counts 442 insurgencies since the American Revolution, 25.2 percent of which were successful.--Gerard DeGroot
Max Boot has written a landmark book about a perennial and important challenge: guerilla warfare.--Jon Meacham, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House
This is the definitive treatment of guerrilla warfare through the ages--a tour de force by a preeminent military historian who has advised generals, policymakers and political leaders on the subject.--Senator John S. McCain
The word "magisterial" is bandied about far too freely these days, but in the case of Max Boot's sweeping and deeply researched history of guerrilla warfare, it proves fair. Somewhere in the first third of Boot's book, you begin to realize that guerrilla wars (and terrorism and insurgencies) are the way we fight, while the formal set battles of, say, the Napoleonic wars are but an exception.--Lucas Wittmann
For the historian and journalist Max Boot to use the phrase 'an epic history' in the subtitle of his own book implies a magnificent lack of modesty in his own capabilities. The work more than matches the hype.... This pathbreaking book should thus be on the reading list of every NATO officer hoping to defeat an insurgency.--Andrew Roberts
Max Boot's alternative military history is so marvelously readable because every section--and there are many in this epic of 750 pages--is moved along by a vividly pictured zealot, mass murderer, mini-murderer, tactician, partisan, general, king--as well as the weary survivors of battles, wars, massacres, atrocities.--Manueala Hoelterhoff
In his encyclopedic history of guerrilla warfare, Max Boot, a military analyst at the Council on Foreign Relations, makes a crucial observation: that [guerrilla warfare] has been a far more enduring feature of conflict than many realize... [An] important survey.... Nicely drawn portraits of the leading figures in the insurgents' pantheon--Giuseppe Garibaldi, T.E. Lawrence, Orde Wingate, Mao Zedong.--James Blitz
Invisible Armies' is a magisterial account of insurgency and counterinsurgency across the ages, peppered with fascinating personalities such as Robert the Bruce, Giuseppe Garibaldi, Che Guevara, Edward Lansdale, Osama bin Laden and David Petraeus. Out of narrative emerges cogent analysis: The author offers important insights relevant to any modern power faced with a guerrilla opponent. Hard lessons are, however, delivered with elegant prose. Leaving aside what Invisible Armies teaches us, this is a wonderful read.--Gerard DeGroot