A Warrior Ethos

Counterinsurgency is not a cure-all. Local allegiances will always trump the might of the invader. Washington’s insistence that the troops turn Kabul into a functioning democracy will only erode the military's fighting spirit.

Issue: July-Aug 2010

David J. Kilcullen, Counterinsurgency (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), 272 pp., $15.95.

Ted Morgan, Valley of Death: The Tragedy at Dien Bien Phu That Led America into the Vietnam War (New York: Random House, 2010), 752 pp., $35.00.

Megan K. Stack, Every Man in This Village is a Liar: An Education in War (New York: Doubleday, 2010), 272 pp., $26.95.



WHILE DISSIMILAR in style and focus, these three books—a history, a memoir and a theory—address the core of any insurgency: the relationship between a government and its people. Pulitzer Prize–winner Ted Morgan has created a masterpiece of research and insights connecting the front lines of Dien Bien Phu with the politics of the 1954 Geneva Conference that marked America’s entry into the Vietnam War. Los Angeles Times reporter Megan Stack presents a devastating collection of personal anecdotes about callous, oppressive male rulers in the culture of the Middle East. David Kilcullen, a former Australian Army officer, reprises from previous lectures and essays his theory about benign counterinsurgency in support of nation building.


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