In This Review

Amateur Soldiers, Global Wars: Insurgency and Modern Conflict
Amateur Soldiers, Global Wars: Insurgency and Modern Conflict
By Michael C. Fowler
Praeger Security International, 2005, 200 pp

Fowler follows the same line as Rupert Smith in pondering the implications of the shift from conventional war to insurgency. His book lacks the authority, lucidity, and historical sweep of Smith's, but he has some interesting observations on how today's "amateurs" are able to perform comparable functions to professionals in preparing their military operations. Insurgent leaders can mobilize and train their troops, develop strategies, collect intelligence, raise money, and procure weapons, tasks all made easier by globalization. But he comes up against a basic problem facing all contemporary insurgencies. Past masters, such as Mao Zedong, believed that the point of an insurgent force was to develop into a conventional army to defeat that of the state. Fowler recognizes that this may be difficult, so he suggests that modern insurgencies will go for a political takeover instead.