Book Review: Hybrid Warfare: Fighting Complex Opponents to the Present


by Williamson Murray & Peter R. Mansoor, editors

New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012. Pp. xii, 322. Maps, notes, index. $29.99 paper. ISBN: 1107643333

A reminder that fighting complex opponents who mix regular and “irregular” forces is not new.

An introduction by Prof. Mansoor (Ohio State) gives the reader and historical overview of the nature of “hybrid warfare” – the complex interaction of regular and “irregular” forces  – from ancient times to the present.  There then follow nine essays, by various historians, that constitute a series of historical case studies.

  • The Roman failure to conquer Germania.
  • The English conquest of Ireland in the late the sixteenth century.
  • The British and American experience during the American Revolution.
  • The French in the Peninuslar War
  • The Union’s experience during the American Civil War.
  • The Prussian-Germans against the  franc tireurs  in the Franco-Prussian War.
  • British Empire’s numerous “small wars” across several centuries.
  • The Japanese against the Chinese from 1937 through 1945.
  • The U.S. in Vietnam. 

The volume concludes with a discussion by Prof. Murray (Ohio State) reviewing the historical patterns of success or failure in hybrid warfare.  Murray notes that these many historical examples provide a font of experience often overlooked by political and military leaders when confronted with “unconventional” opponents; in effect, we do notlearn from the past. 

Hybrid Warfare  will prove rewarding reading for anyone interested in the problem of “irregular” warfare, providing much food for thought about what is likely to be the most common form of war in our century.



Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

Buy it at



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close