An instruction manual that navigates the contours of guerrilla warfare.
Tucker’s inaugural effort covers, in 16 pithy chapters, nearly every subject relevant to understanding guerrilla tactics. The book looks at this peculiar brand of combat from a political, tactical, moral and even economic perspective. Along the way, the author discusses the nature of empire, espionage, arms acquisition and psychological warfare, as well as more philosophically charged topics, such as ideology, the guerrilla soldier as “lone wolf” and the nature of propaganda. In the spirit of Sun Tzu’s seminal The Art of War, Tucker fills each chapter with a numbered list of aphoristic expressions, each one rarely more than a sentence or two in length. As in Sun Tzu’s work, Tucker’s apothegms are often oblique, more poetical than conventional: “A guerrilla is the bullet from a sniper that strikes the head of an emperor.” Other times, the attention shifts away from strictly strategic concerns to issue moral pronouncements: “No excuses are accepted from the killers of babies and adolescents.” Sometimes the observations are so broad and obvious that they may fail to hold the reader’s attention: “When one nation becomes indebted to another, the creditor can influence the debtor’s policies.” This is a timely work, given the rise of terrorism throughout the world. However, it’s not a meticulous one, as the aphoristic method limits the author’s ability to rigorously discuss its bold, sweeping declarations, such as, “War is waged on an enemy for three reasons: riches, power, & respect.” The book also might have benefited from a discussion of the rich tradition of similar works that preceded it, and the analysis could have been greatly sharpened if it used real-world historical examples to substantiate its claims.
A treatise that might whet the appetite of readers looking for a more searching reflection on its subject.