Hearts and Minds

A People’s History of Counterinsurgency
Edited by:

From Malaya and Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan, leading scholars and journalists unravel the myth and challenge the efficacy of counterinsurgency

“Counterinsurgency is a tactical phoenix, dying only to rise again, ever-ready to win hearts and minds for the American empire. . . This essential volume makes it possible to understand the past and prepare for the next time the siren song of counterinsurgency is sung.”
—Marilyn Young, Professor of History, New York University

The first book of its kind, Hearts and Minds is a scathing response to the grand narrative of U.S. counterinsurgency, in which warfare is defined not by military might alone but by winning the “hearts and minds” of civilians. Dormant as a tactic since the days of the Vietnam War, counterinsurgency was resurrected in 2006 when the U.S. Army drafted a new field manual heralding it as a primary military engagement strategy; counterinsurgency campaigns followed in Iraq and Afghanistan, despite the fact that counterinsurgency had utterly failed to account for the actual lived experiences of the people whose hearts and minds America had sought to win.

Drawing on leading thinkers in the field and using key examples from Malaya, the Philippines, Vietnam, El Salvador, Iraq, and Afghanistan, Hearts and Minds brings a long-overdue focus on the many civilians caught up in these conflicts. Both urgent and timely, this important book challenges the idea of a neat divide between insurgents and the populations from which they emerge—and should be required reading for anyone engaged in the most important contemporary debates over U.S. military policy.

Contributors:

  • Joaquín M. Chávez on El Salvador
  • David Enders on Iraq
  • Hannah Gurman on Vietnam
  • Karl Hack on Malaya
  • Jeremy Kuzmarov on Afghanistan
  • Vina A. Lanzona on the Philippines
  • Jean MacKenzie on Afghanistan
  • Rick Rowley on Iraq

Praise

“Spend just one hour with this book and you will begin to appreciate how the counterinsurgency doctrine emerged; spend a few more hours and you will understand how it failed in every key test. Hannah Gurman deserves our thanks for bringing these incisive case studies together in one place.”
—Lloyd C. Gardner, professor of history, Rutgers University
“Hannah Gurman has assembled a groundbreaking volume filled with fresh perspectives and revealing insights. If you want to understand America’s recent debacles in Iraq and Afghanistan, Hearts and Minds is essential reading.”
—Nick Turse, author of Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam
“Essential reading for anyone who wants to see beyond the illusions about counterinsurgency warfare that the U.S. and British governments and media have sold their people. These histories show that, despite decades of occupations and well-funded and well-lauded strategic thinking, the hearts and minds of the occupied have remained beyond their militaries’ ken and control.”
—Catherine Lutz, professor of anthropology and international studies, Brown University, and author of The Bases of Empire
“Counterinsurgency is a tactical phoenix, dying only to rise again, ever-ready to win hearts and minds for the American empire. This essential volume makes it possible to understand the past and prepare for the next time the siren song of counterinsurgency is sung.”
—Marilyn B. Young, professor of history, New York University
“With America creeping toward military intervention in the Syrian civil war, Hannah Gurman‘s volume comes at an opportune time. While generals offer up moralistic bromides about protecting foreign populations at the barrel of an American gun, Hearts and Minds lays bare the brutal and destructive truth behind American military activism in the world.”
—Colonel Gian Gentile, associate professor of history, United States Military Academy, West Point

News and Reviews

Foreign Affairs

Foreign Affairs reviews Hearts and Minds in a round-up of books on counterinsurgency

Jacobin

Jacobin reviews Hearts and Minds