Cover of Learning the Lessons of Modern War by Edited by Thomas G. Mahnken
Learning the Lessons of Modern War
Edited by Thomas G. Mahnken


336 pages.
from $38.00

Hardcover ISBN: 9781503612266
Paperback ISBN: 9781503612501
Ebook ISBN: 9781503612518

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Excerpts and More

Learning the Lessons of Modern War uses the study of the recent past to illuminate the future. More specifically, it examines the lessons of recent wars as a way of understanding continuity and change in the character and conduct of war.

The volume brings together contributions from a group of well-known scholars and practitioners from across the world to examine the conduct of recent wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Middle East, South America, and Asia. The book's first section consists of chapters that explore the value of a contemporary approach to history and reflect on the value of learning lessons from the past. Its second section focuses on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Chapters on Iraq discuss the lessons of the Iraq War, the British perspective on the conflict, and the war as seen through the lens of Saddam Hussein's military. Chapters on Afghanistan discuss counterinsurgency operations during the war, Britain's experience in Afghanistan, raising and training Afghan forces, and U.S. interagency performance. The book's third section examines the lessons of wars involving Russia, Israel, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Georgia, and Colombia. It concludes by exploring overarching themes associated with the conduct of recent wars.

Containing a foreword by former National Security Advisor Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster, Learning the Lessons of Modern War is an indispensable resource for international relations and security studies scholars, policymakers, and military professionals.

About the author

Thomas G. Mahnken is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments and Senior Research Professor at the Philip Merrill Center for Strategic Studies at The Johns Hopkins University's Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). He is a prolific author with two previous books from Stanford University Press—Strategy in Asia (2014) and Competitive Strategies for the 21st Century (2012).

"A famous old military saying suggests that 'amateurs talk about tactics, armchair generals study strategy, but professionals study logistics.' Studying lessons from modern warfare, the volume Learning the Lessons of Modern War, edited by Thomas G. Mahnken, challenges its readers to add a fourth component to this old saying, suggesting that counterinsurgency experts need to study politics."

—Ori Swed, Contemporary Sociology