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The Insurgents

The Insurgents

David Petraeus and the Plot to Change the American Way of War

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A finalist for the Pulitzer Prize

The Insurgents tells the inside story of the small group of soldier-scholars, led by Gen. David Petraeus, who plotted to revolutionize the oldest, stodgiest institution in America—the military. Working from secret documents, private emails, and interviews with more than one hundred key characters, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Fred Kaplan details how these men and women forged a community (a “cabal,” some of them called it), manipulated the bureaucracy, and changed official policy.

This is a story of power, politics, ideas, and personalities—and how they converged to reshape twenty-first century warfare. It is also a cautionary tale about how creative doctrine can harden into dogma and how smart strategists—today’s “best and brightest”— can win the battles at home but not the wars abroad. Petraeus and his fellow insurgents made the US military more adaptive to the conflicts of the modern era, but they also created the tools—made it more tempting—for political leaders to wade into wars that they would have been wise to avoid.
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  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 432 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451642650 | 
  • January 2014
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Read an Excerpt

The Insurgents 1. “What We Need Is an Officer with Three Heads”
A few days shy of his twenty-fifth birthday, John Nagl saw his future disappear.

The first tremors came at dawn, on February 24, 1991, as he revved up the engine of his M-1 tank and plowed across the Saudi Arabian border into the flat, endless sands of southern Iraq. For the previous month, American warplanes had bombarded Saddam... see more

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