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War from the Ground Up: Twenty-First Century Combat as Politics (Crises in World Politics) Hardcover – 20 Nov 2012


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 285 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA (20 Nov 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199327882
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199327881
  • Product Dimensions: 21.8 x 2.8 x 15 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 948,286 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'A work of such importance that it should be compulsory reading at every level in the military; from the most recently enlisted cadet to the Chief of the Defence Staff and, even more important, the members of the National Security Council who guide him. ... It is impossible to summarise Emile Simpson's ideas without distorting them. His own style is so muscular and aphoristic that he can concentrate complex arguments into memorable sentences that will have a life of their own. His familiarity with the work of Aristotle and the history of the English Reformation enables him to explain the requirements of a strategic narrative as effectively as his experiences in Afghanistan illuminate his understanding of the relationship between operational requirements and political objectives. In short (and here I shall really go overboard) War From the Ground Up deserves to be seen as a coda to Clausewitz's 'On War'. But it has the advantage of being considerably shorter.' ----Michael Howard, Times Literary Supplement

'One of the most important assertions in this fascinating book is that the outcome of wars is now less subject to assessment by body counts than to the verdict of civilian outsiders, who make judgments with scant heed to pure military logic. ... This is the first book by an immensely intelligent and interesting young man, from whom much will be heard. He lays down principles of policy-making and war fighting for instance, the key in counter-insurgency is to match actions and words so as to influence target audiences to subscribe to a given narrative with a wisdom lacking in most contemporary foreign offices. ... Ministers would do well to read Simpson's fascinating and provocative study before they launch their next lunge into the unknown. They might then better understand how elusive in modern conflict are the concepts of winning and losing.' ----Max Hastings, The Sunday Times

'Should be read by all aspiring military commanders and their Whitehall masters.' ----The Guardian --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Emile Simpson served in the British Army from 2006-12 as an infantry officer in the Royal Gurkha Rifles. He completed three tours in Southern Afghanistan, and also served in Brunei, Nepal, and the Falkland Islands. He previously read history at Oxford University, and was a visiting defence fellow there in 2011 on the Changing Character of War Programme. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Barton Keyes on 9 Aug 2013
Format: Hardcover
The encomium given by Michael Howerd can mean one of two things -- either Michael Howard hasn't been paying attention to the simply scores of books written by able articulate young ex-officers (John Nagl Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam for instance or Frank Ledwidge Losing Small Wars: British Military Failure in Iraq and Afghanistan) or his own literary education ended with Clausewitz (see also Bernard Fall's books from sixty years ago Hell in a Very Small Place: The Siege of Dien Bien Phu or the numerous books written by French officers after Algeria and Vietnam, for instance Where I Left My Soul). Professor Howard might also have read jonathan Steele's two books Ghosts of Afghanistan: The Haunted Battleground and Defeat: Why They Lost Iraq before making himself look ridiculous. If the residents of our staff colleges have been treated to an education founded on any less than that reading list, God help us.

Simpson writes well and clearly but this is hardly groundbreaking. What he has done is synthesise what others have been talking about into one compact volume that makes sense -- and for that he is to be congratulated
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Steve Keen TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 3 Feb 2014
Format: Hardcover
When, as children, we have war presented to us it tends to be as if there is only one side to the story, and this is it. Hollywood often mediates that view, so we know it's horrific, but there's still only one way of looking at it.

Then we find there are alternative views: disagreements over the causes, the reasons events turn out the way they do, and sometimes even the outcomes. There seems to be an increasing view that the First World War didn't end in 1918, but smouldered for two decades before reigniting in 1939.

In War From The Ground Up, Emile Simpson challenges the common concept of bipolar war, of war between two absolutely distinct sides, each with its own clear, differentiated agenda. Bipolar war has only one possible outcome, victory for one side or the other, and the conditions for that victory are clear cut and beyond dispute.

But increasingly wars are not like that. They're messy, without clear-cut sides, with some actors seemingly on both "sides" at once, others constantly changing "sides", others on the "side" that just lets them get on with their livelihoods. Implicitly, this has been clear for a long time in Iraq and Afghanistan. Simpson makes the condition explicit, and discusses the implications of this and other ways in which contemporary thinking about the conditions and conduct of war are changing, including the way military thinking must transcend the battlefield and encompass the "battlespace", acknowledging the wider political context. He is contemptuous of military types who are constantly demanding that politicians "get out of their way": military strategy, he emphasises, is the servant of political will, not the other way round.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By JACKHAMMER on 26 Jan 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
War from the Ground Up is a book that should be read by all military officers and politicians who have any involvement with the conflict in Afghanistan, as it gives a first class insight into the complex dynamics that trouble this country and its future. Emile Simpson has been on the ground so has first hand knowledge of exactly what is playing out, and more importantly he can articulate his views very well, and indeed his thoughts on a solution.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Bury on 10 Jan 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is one of the most important, ambitious and easy to read books on contemporary conflict that I have read. Unlike the dense prose of the Utility of Force, Simpson has made a real effort to keep often complex themes and terms accessible to the average reader; hopefully this means his confident arguments will be widely read. Because they deserve to be.

In War from the Ground Up, Simpson has taken his considerable experience of the conflict in Afghanistan and fused it with a deep intellectual ability to elucidate on the realities of conducting warfare from the platoon level right up to strategy crafting in a globalised world. In doing so, Simpson transcends the old paradigm of tactics-operations-strategy to show that in modern warfare there are no easy boundaries between these levels and that the traditional conceptions of the use of force to achieve political results is too simplistic. In a subtly different way to Kaldor, Simpson shows us how we are essentially in a post-Clausewitzian era now.

It is hard to do justice to a book with so many valuable insights on modern warfare, strategy and political decision-making in a short review, but if you are thinking of buying this book you will not be disappointed. It will change the way you think about these things.
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