The Insurgents

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

The Insurgents

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.
  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 432 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451642650 | 
  • January 2014
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About the Author

Fred Kaplan
Photograph by Carol Dronsfield

Fred Kaplan

Fred Kaplan is the national-security columnist for Slate and the author of four other books, including The Wizards of Armageddon, 1959, Daydream Believers, and, most recently The Insurgents: David Petraeus and the Plot to Change the American Way of War, which was a New York Times bestseller and Pulitzer Prize finalist. A former Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter for The Boston Globe, he graduated from Oberlin College, earned a PhD from MIT, and lives in Brooklyn with his wife, Brooke Gladstone.