David and Goliath
An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare From Ancient Times to the Present.
By Max Boot.
Liveright. 750 pp. $35
The Sioux and Apache tribes of North America had something profound in common with the colonists who established the United States. Like the Viet Cong, the Spanish irregulars who frustrated Napoleon, and the Afghan tribesmen who defeated the Soviet army and continue to challenge U.S. and NATO forces in our own day, they were guerrillas. The word “guerrilla” comes from the Spanish for “little war,” used to describe Spain’s 1808 uprising against Napoleon’s troops, but such a way of fighting is as old as human civilization itself. Guerrilla warfare is a rational response to overwhelming and organized force, the means by which the weak can frustrate, wear down, and overcome the strong, whether they be British troops at Lexington and Concord, French and later American troops in the Mekong Delta, or Hitler’s Wehrmacht in Yugoslavia.
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Martin Walker is a senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center. His new novel, The Devil’s Cave, will be published later this year.more from this author >>