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The Insurgent Archipelago [Paperback]

John Mackinlay
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

30 Nov 2009
As a British Gurkha officer assigned to the jungle borders of North Borneo, John Mackinlay experienced firsthand the Maoist-style insurgencies of the 1950s and 1960s, and later in his career, as a scholar researching Muslim NGOs and preventative security, he witnessed the transformation of territorial, labor-intensive uprisings into the international networks of individuals and communities that operate across the world today. In this book, Mackinlay focuses on the situation in Afghanistan to see how threats from one theater of operation impact on us domestically in the UK and in the US. Mackinlay maps the transformation of insurgencies against the rapid modernization of their origin cities, noting the ways in which technology has accelerated and complicated a variety of coalitions and the efforts to defeat them. Our current bin Laden era, Mackinlay argues, must be understood from a Maoist perspective of insurgency. The campaigns of mid-century are directly linked to the global movements of tomorrow, yet the past two decades of insurgent activity have also marked a new chapter in the practice, in which propaganda of the deed (ie, suicide bombings) has become centrally important. This shift presents new challenges to our traditional, time-honored response to terror and places a greater emphasis on mastering the virtual, cyber-based dimension of these campaigns. Mackinlay revisits the roots of global insurgencies, describes their nature and character, reveals the power of mass communications and grievance, and recommends how individual nations can counter these threats by focusing on domestic terrorism.

Frequently Bought Together

The Insurgent Archipelago + The Violent Image: Insurgent Propaganda and the New Revolutionaries + Modern Insurgencies and Counter-Insurgencies: Guerrillas and their Opponents since 1750 (Warfare and History)
Price For All Three: £63.61

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: C Hurst & Co Publishers Ltd (30 Nov 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849040133
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849040136
  • Product Dimensions: 14.4 x 21.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 423,515 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


A book whose importance and timeliness cannot be over-estimated. Written with a sense of context and continuity, it nonetheless makes clear the dangers inherent in a view of insurgency shaped disproportionately by history. The Insurgent Archipelago is essential reading, not only for policy-makers, but also for anybody concerned to understand the difficulties and challenges faced by the west. --Professor Hew Strachan, Chichele Professor of the History of War, All Souls College, University of Oxford

Succeeding in the global counterinsurgency campaign we are fighting today demands that we understand how our enemies have adapted Maoist principles to the globalised world in which we live. John Mackinlay is a soldier and scholar whose work shows us how to disaggregate the insurgent archipelago and defeat it in detail. Highly recommended. --Dr John Nagl, President of the Center for a New American Security and author of Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife

The Insurgent Archipelago proposes that in the post-Cold War era, the concept of insurgency has unique and neglected relevance. It is seen foremost as a political action, and terrorism and insurgency are very much interconnected. ... The book's broad, bold historical sweep is impressive and Mackinlay is a talented writer, bringing a fresh approach and new language to this pressing military and political dilemma. --Times Higher Education

About the Author

John Mackinlay is a teaching fellow in the War Studies Department of King's College, University of London. A former Defense Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge, Mackinlay's current research on insurgencies is funded by the British Academy.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Jeff
Mackinlay's book, The Insurgent Archipelago, stands out from the flood of books over the past decade on counterinsurgency because it adds something new to the argument rather than rehashing the decades old views of the older generation of theorists and applying their maxims superficially to Iraq and Afghanistan. He also provides a review of the development and evolution of insurgency since Mao that is simply head and shoulders above anything else I have read, and I have read a ton on this subject. From that foundation, he makes coherent and unique arguments about the future of insurgency and counterinsurgency in the face of the newest model of insurgency - interconnected nodes of disaffection that span the globe - the implications for our misadventures in Afghanistan as well as the streets of Birmingham.
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