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From South Carolina to South Vietnam, America’s two hundred-year involvement in guerrilla warfare has been extensive and varied. America and Guerrilla Warfare analyzes conflicts in which Americans have participated in the role of, on the side of, or in opposition to guerrilla forces, providing a broad comparative and historical perspective on these types of engagements.

Anthony James Joes examines nine case studies, ranging from the role of Francis Marion, the Swamp Fox, in driving Cornwallis to Yorktown and eventual surrender to the U.S. support of Afghan rebels that hastened the collapse of the Soviet Empire. He analyzes the origins of each conflict, traces American involvement, and seeks patterns and deviations. Studying numerous campaigns, including ones staged by Confederate units during the Civil War, Joes reveals the combination of elements that can lead a nation to success in guerrilla warfare or doom it to failure.

In a controversial interpretation, he suggests that valuable lessons were forgotten or ignored in Southeast Asia. The American experience in Vietnam was a debacle but, according to Joes, profoundly atypical of the country’s overall experience with guerrilla warfare. He examines several twentieth-century conflicts that should have better prepared the country for Vietnam: the Philippines after 1898, Nicaragua in the 1920s, Greece in the late 1940s, and the Philippines again during the Huk War of 1946-1954. Later, during the long Salvadoran conflict of the 1980s, American leaders seemed to recall what they had learned from their experiences with this type of warfare.

Guerrilla insurgencies did not end with the Cold War. As America faces recurring crises in the Balkans, sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and possibly Asia, a comprehensive analysis of past guerrilla engagements is essential for today’s policymakers.

Named a Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2002.

Anthony James Joes, professor of international politics and director of the international relations program at St. Joseph's University, is the author of Guerrilla Warfare and Guerrilla Conflict before the Cold War.

"His summaries of the major guerrilla conflicts and extensive notes make this a useful book for a broad range of readers."—Almanac of Seapower

"Joes’s . . . judgments, based on a mastery of an impressive array of material, are sound and thought provoking."—Arkansas Historical Quarterly

"Joes’ argument may stir up some controversy and debate, but his ideas are thought-provoking."—Armor

"One of the two or three best comparative studies of guerrilla operations. Its conclusions and prescriptions are clear, sensible, and applicable anywhere, anytime."—Bernard Norling

"A richly informative study of the differing aspects of the American response to the recurrent problems of guerrilla war."—Choice

"A brilliant comparative study of America’s involvement with guerrilla war. The author writes with elegance, passion, and rigor and masterfully weaves together deep knowledge of history, strategic principles, as well as the literature of guerrilla war. The book’s greatest attribute is drawing lessons about how to win and how to lose across a range of historical experiences."—Gabriel Marcella, U.S. Army War College

"Provides an excellent summarization of the subject by examining nine cases involving the United States to a significant degree."—Gun Week

"Joes argues that the United States is destined to become involved in more guerrilla wars in the future."—H-Net Reviews

"Provides a basis for dialogue among historians, political scientists, and policy makers who are interested in national security."—International Politics

"The nine case studies and their analysis make an excellent textbook as Joes describes the necessary ingredients for successful guerrilla warfare and counterinsurgency, presents case studies of both, and examines the results."—Journal of Conflict Studies

"A book very much worth a reader’s time and careful consideration."—On Point

"The history and analysis are excellent."—Paper Wars

"An important contribution to the study of guerrilla warfare and the US role in such conflicts. It is highly recommended for those in academia, the military, general readers interested in military history, and to those in the national security establishment."—Small Wars and Insurgencies

"For those in the special-operations community, this book is well worth reading."—Special Warfare

"Present and future policy makers should examine the record of America and guerrilla warfare."—Virginia Quarterly Review

"An exceptional book."—WTBF Radio

"“Joes is at his most engaging when he examines low-intensity conflict during the twentieth century.”"—Journal of Cold War Studies

Publication Date



The University Press of Kentucky

Place of Publication

Lexington, KY






Guerrilla warfare, United States military history, United States foreign relations


Military History

America and Guerrilla Warfare
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