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Small Wars: Their Principles and Practice

Small Wars is rich in lessons about both the past and the present” – Military History Monthly

First published in 1896, Small Wars attempts to provide a comprehensive manual for the conduct of campaigns of imperial conquest.

C. E. Callwell draws on his own extensive experience as a colonel in the British Army and his vast array of knowledge about contemporary imperial wars to provide a comprehensive account of the strategy and tactics in conducting asymmetric warfare in the age of imperialism.

His examples are drawn from a wide assortment of historical conflicts, ranging from Hoche’s suppression of the Vendée revolt in the French Revolution, to mid-19th century Spanish wars in Morocco, to the Boer War of 1899-1902.

Throughout, Caldwell advocates the importance of morale over technology and he highlights the many ways in which traditional military theory was unsuitable to the type of guerrilla warfare often fought in the colonies.

Only by constant attack and relentless pursuit would victory be achieved.

Many of Caldwell’s insights remain valuable today and his teachings could easily be applied to recent conflicts in Afghanistan and Iran.

Despite its wide-ranging application, Caldwell was quick to emphasise the sheer diversity of colonial warfare, and inside this volume he provides advice for every eventuality.

This classic of military literature is an essential read for anyone seeking to learn more about the nature of war in the years before the First World War. This version is the third revision of the book, original published in 1906.

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