America and Guerrilla Warfare

by Anthony James Joes

Book cover for America and Guerrilla Warfare

From South Carolina to South Vietnam, America's 200-year involvement in guerilla warfare has been extensive and varied. For the only remaining superpower in a world filled with an ever-increasing number of "small wars", the future promises more of the same. The American experience in Vietnam was a debacle, according to the author, but profoundly atypical of America's overall experience with guerilla warfare. He examines serveral 20th-century conflicts that should have better prepared the country for Vietnam: the Philippines in 1898; Nicaragua in the 1920s; Greece in the late 1940s; and the Philippines again during the Huk War of 1945-52. In a controversial interpretation, the author suggests that valuable lessons were forgotten or ignored in Southeast Asia. Later, during the long Salvadorean conflict of the 1980s, America's leaders seemed to recall what they had learnt. Anthony Joes presents a total of nine case studies, from the role of Francis Marion - the "Swamp Fox" - in driving Cornwallis to Yorktown and eventual surrender, to the US support of Afhgan rebels that hastened the collapse of the Soviet Empire. He analyzes the origins of each conflict, traces America's involvement, and seeks patterns and deviations. Studying numerous campaigns, including those staged by Confederate units during the Civil War, Joes presents the combination of elements that can lead a nation to success in guerilla warfare, or doom it to failure.

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