The Insurgents by Fred Kaplan
David Petraeus and the Plot to Change the American Way of War

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 2 Critic Reviews

Kaplan’s narrative ends before the news of Petraeus’s embarrassing and career-halting extramarital affair, but the denouement of “The Insurgents” is sadder and certainly far more consequential.
-NY Times

Synopsis

A finalist for the Pulitzer Prize

The Insurgents is the inside story of the small group of soldier-scholars, led by General David Petraeus, who plotted to revolutionize one of the largest, oldest, and most hidebound institutions—the United States military. Their aim was to build a new Army that could fight the new kind of war in the post–Cold War age: not massive wars on vast battlefields, but “small wars” in cities and villages, against insurgents and terrorists. These would be wars not only of fighting but of “nation building,” often not of necessity but of choice.

Based on secret documents, private emails, and interviews with more than one hundred key characters, including Petraeus, the tale unfolds against the backdrop of the wars against insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan. But the main insurgency is the one mounted at home by ambitious, self-consciously intellectual officers—Petraeus, John Nagl, H. R. McMaster, and others—many of them classmates or colleagues in West Point’s Social Science Department who rose through the ranks, seized with an idea of how to fight these wars better. Amid the crisis, they forged a community (some of them called it a cabal or mafia) and adapted their enemies’ techniques to overhaul the culture and institutions of their own Army.

Fred Kaplan describes how these men and women maneuvered the idea through the bureaucracy and made it official policy. This is a story of power, politics, ideas, and personalities—and how they converged to reshape the twenty-first-century American military. But it is also a cautionary tale about how creative doctrine can harden into dogma, how smart strategists—today’s “best and brightest”—can win the battles at home but not the wars abroad. Petraeus and his fellow insurgents made the US military more adaptive to the conflicts of the modern era, but they also created the tools—and made it more tempting—for political leaders to wade into wars that they would be wise to avoid.
 

About Fred Kaplan

See more books from this Author
Fred Kaplan writes the “War Stories” column in Slate and has also written many articles on politics and culture in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and many other publications. A former Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for The Boston Globe, he is also the author of 1959, Daydream Believers, and The Wizards of Armageddon. He graduated from Oberlin College and has a PhD from MIT. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, Brooke Gladstone.
 
Published January 2, 2013 by Simon & Schuster. 434 pages
Genres: History, Travel, War, Professional & Technical, Computers & Technology, Science & Math. Non-fiction
Add Critic Review

Critic reviews for The Insurgents
All: 2 | Positive: 1 | Negative: 1

NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Thanassis Cambanis on Jan 24 2013

Kaplan’s narrative ends before the news of Petraeus’s embarrassing and career-halting extramarital affair, but the denouement of “The Insurgents” is sadder and certainly far more consequential.

Read Full Review of The Insurgents: David Petraeu... | See more reviews from NY Times

NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Janet Maslin on Dec 26 2012

In “The Insurgents” Ms. Broadwell is only one of the miscalculations that an admirable but dangerously unrealistic Mr. Petraeus has made.

Read Full Review of The Insurgents: David Petraeu... | See more reviews from NY Times

Reader Rating for The Insurgents
78%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 126 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


Rate this book!

Add Review
×