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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.

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Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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