Query: Compiling List of Novels on Guerrilla Warfare, Insurgency, Unconventional or Irregular Warfare

Donna Sinclair's picture

(on behalf of: Jason Ridler)

Dear H-Warriors,

Do you have favorite war novels that primarily concern guerrilla warfare, insurgency, or other brands of unconventional or irregular warfare?

I'm compiling a list, and will share it when I am done. It will include C. S. Forrester's Rifleman Dodd and The Gun, Kipling's Kim, Larteguy's The Centurion, and more. I would be very interested in novels from Africa, Asia, and the Balkans that are available in English. Please note: I am only interested in fiction in print such as: short stories, plays, novels, etc. I am not interested in memoirs, unless they are fictionalized (feel free to insert a dozen jokes about how all memoirs are fiction here!).

Also, the latest FM on COIN in the US (2014) does not include an annotated bibliography (which the 2006 did). I would love to know why it was removed, if folks know.

Best,

Jay

-----

Jason S. Ridler, MA, Ph.D.

Writer, Historian, Storyteller

Adjunct Professor, Norwich University

Jason Ridler <jason.ridler@gmail.com>

Dr. Ridler,
I'm not sure how "out of range" this is to what you are looking for, but there is an Australian young-adult series called the "Tomorrow Series" by John Marsden which includes a significant amount of guerrilla warfare.

Hope that's helpful!
Nicole Newton

Jay,

For Vietnam, I would recommend A Reckoning for Kings by Alan Cole and Chris Bunch. Covers events around the Tet Offensive. Somewhat Sci-Fi-ish: A Small Colonial War by Robert Frezza or West of Honor, by Jerry Pournelle.

If I can think of any others, I will post them.

Michael Reynolds

An account on the civilian experience during the Tet Offensive in Hue in 1968 might also be of interest. It was written in 1969 by a famous Vietnamese writer Nha Ca who survived the ordeal of the events in Hue and wrote this account in 1969. The title is Mourning Headband for Hue.

Best,

Olga Dror

There is a listing of some fictional works dealing with the Vietnam War at http://www.clemson.edu/caah/history/facultypages/EdMoise/fiction.html

But few of these deal with the guerrilla aspects of the war,.

The most interesting case, to me, is a pair of novels by David Drake:

David Drake, Rolling Hot. New York: Baen Books, 1989. 280 pp. Science fiction, set in the future on a distant planet, but with the plot clearly based on the hawks' myth about the Tet Offensive: the guerrillas have shot their wad in a big offensive, and have effectively lost the war, but stupid, panicky civilians may hand the guerrillas a political victory.

David Drake and Janet Morris, Arc Riders. New York: Warner Books, 1995. 312 pp. Science fiction about time travellers who come back to the year 1968 to make the United States fight on, and indeed escalate the Vietnam War, after the Tet Offensive. They are expecting this to lead to American victory, but instead the result is utter disaster for the United States. Comparing this item and the preceding one, I find it interesting that David Drake, a Vietnam veteran (11th Armored Cavalry, 1970), has, if only fictionally, come down squarely on both sides of the American debate over the Tet Offensive.

An interesting item that does deal with guerrilla aspects of the war is Thomas R. Hargrove, A Dragon Lives Forever: War and Rice in Vietnam's Mekong Delta, 1969-1991, and Beyond. New York: Ivy, 1994. 472 pp. This book interleaves three types of material: the story of Hargroves' service as a US advisor with particular responsibility for the introduction of miracle rice, in Chuong Thien (a very insecure province), 1969-70; the story of his coming to terms with his Vietnam experience and revisiting Chuong Thien in 1988; and excerpts from the novel he wrote in the 1970s, based on his experiences in Chuong Thien.

Some of the below are sci-fi, but nonetheless, quite good, Some I red before going to Vietnam in Special Forces and were dead on as far as I was concerned.

The Dogs of War

Falkenberg's Legion, Prince of Mercenaries, Go Tell The Spartans, and Prince of Sparta (Jerry Pournelle)

Childe Cycle series- Dorsai! (alternate title: The Genetic General), Necromancer, Soldier, Ask Not, Tactics of Mistake, The Final Encyclopedia, and The Chantry Guild. (Gordon R. Dickson)

Janissaries series- Janissaries, Janissaries: Clan and Crown, Janissaries III: Storms of Victory, and Janissaries IV: Mamelukes (Jerry Pournelle)

The Centurions (Jean Lartéguy)

Incident at Muc Wa (from which the movie Go Tell the Spartans was made, not to be confused with the above novels.)

Tomorrow When the War Began series (seven novels, plus the three-book spin off, The Ellie Chronicles)

Unless I missed a mention of it: David Halberstam, One Very Hot Day.

I have enjoyed a few of Ward Just's novels, and have successfully assigned The American Ambassador to my introductory world politics courses. I found A Dangerous Friend to be an interesting glimpse into Indochina during the war (set in 1965) from the perspective of naive aid workers. His first book, A Soldier of the Revolution, set in South America, was also a fun read that focuses more on the internal dynamics of a proto-revolution, which has instructional merit.

There is also Ernest Hemingway's story of guerilla fighting in the Spanish Civil War, "For Whom The Bells Toll."

Robert Stone has a novel from the early 1980s based in a fictional Central American country (probably Nicaragua), "A Flag For Sunrise."

There was a WWII novel, called "Guerrilla" (I believe) by a ...Thayer. Seemingly set in Greece. It was also printed as a soldier's WWII paperback which I read/used to own. If it can be found it is an excellent case of traditional guerrilla war, not insurgency/counterinsurgency. I'm glad John Stobo listed Hemingway, the grandfather of all such.

here are some more .

The Unseen Nanni Balestrini Deals with terrorism and militant movements of northern Italian workers in Italy in the 1970s.

Rebellion in the Backlands Euclides da Cunha Known as Brazil's "national novel" this is based on a rural religious rebellion in 19 th century Brazil. Not an easy read, but a great fictionalized account of a real event.

Thomas Flanagan The Year of the Fench, Tenants of Time,and the Heel of the Hunt. A trilogy dealing with Irish revolts over the years. The Heel of the Hunt describes the IRA in the 1920s and includes a fascinating account of how the IRA detects, follows an executes a British intelligence agent trying to infiltrate the IRA.

Barking Deer Jonathan Rubin An SF team deployed with the Montangrads during the Vietnam war.

HT Lambrick The Terrorist. At first I thought this was an actual memoir of the leader of the Hur insurgency during WWII in British India (now Pakistan's Sindh province), but I later found out the Lambrick has put together a fictionalized account based on his (Lambrick's) experience as a British administrator in the region. (Lambrick would make a good addition to your unconventional scholars list). The Hur insurgency in not much known, but it was an early Islamic insurgency and deserves to be better known.

These are all available in English; if not in print, they can found for reasonable prices on the internet.

Jean Larteguy wrote a sequel to The Centurions called "The Praetorians", I understand this is being republished after a long time out of print. He also wrote an adventure novel about guerrilla warfare in Laos called "The Bronze Drums".

Speaking of Laos, the Robin Moore book "The Green Berets" has an interesting section in it about a Special Forces captain doing his covert best with organizing a Meo tribe against the Pathet Lao. Probably the best part of the book.

Edwin noted the Vietnam fiction reading list above, my favourites are "Fields of Fire" by James Webb and "The 13th Valley" by Del Vecchio but I agree that most Vietnam fiction is about the American Army, not about guerrilla warfare.

An uncommon subject is the Greek insurgency of the 40s; I remember an old novel by Niven Busch called The Captive City about a British mission trapped in Athens during the brief urban revolt by the Communists in December 1944.

Han Suyin wrote "And the Rain My Drink" in 1956, soon after the end of the Malayan emergency which is the setting of this novel. There aren't many fictional works on Malaya.

There is hardly any fiction in English about the Cyprus Emergency, so Lawrence Durrell's "Bitter Lemons" will have to do, about the years that he spent on Cyprus in the middle of the EOKA insurgency.

One thing that hasn't been mentioned so far is the "America conquered" genre: Rugged Individualists Fighting On Against The Red Hordes. This genre is related to the "invasion literature" of Britain, goes back to the 1920s and Floyd Gibbons' "Red Napoleon", and reaches its vilest form in "The Turner Diaries" and a lot of other self-published crap. An interesting example is "Vandenberg" by Oliver Lange from 1971, also published under the title "Defiance". More science-fictiony is C. M. Kornbluth's "Not This August" (available free on Project Gutenberg Canada) and Heinlein's "Sixth Column".

Interesting to note that the new edition of FM 3-24 does not have a bibliography. I suppose this was either to forestall arguments and criticisms about what was included in the last one or what should have been in a new one, or a realization that most officers would not ever read more than two or three titles in it.

Hope this is helpful.

Jean Larteguy wrote a sequel to The Centurions called "The Praetorians", I understand this is being republished after a long time out of print. He also wrote an adventure novel about guerrilla warfare in Laos called "The Bronze Drums".

Speaking of Laos, the Robin Moore book "The Green Berets" has an interesting section in it about a Special Forces captain doing his covert best with organizing a Meo tribe against the Pathet Lao. Probably the best part of the book.

Edwin noted the Vietnam fiction reading list above, my favourites are "Fields of Fire" by James Webb and "The 13th Valley" by Del Vecchio but I agree that most Vietnam fiction is about the American Army, not about guerrilla warfare.

An uncommon subject is the Greek insurgency of the 40s; I remember an old novel by Niven Busch called The Captive City about a British mission trapped in Athens during the brief urban revolt by the Communists in December 1944.

Han Suyin wrote "And the Rain My Drink" in 1956, soon after the end of the Malayan emergency which is the setting of this novel. There aren't many fictional works on Malaya.

There is hardly any fiction in English about the Cyprus Emergency, so Lawrence Durrell's "Bitter Lemons" will have to do, about the years that he spent on Cyprus in the middle of the EOKA insurgency.

One thing that hasn't been mentioned so far is the "America conquered" genre: Rugged Individualists Fighting On Against The Red Hordes. This genre is related to the "invasion literature" of Britain, goes back to the 1920s and Floyd Gibbons' "Red Napoleon", and reaches its vilest form in "The Turner Diaries" and a lot of other self-published crap. An interesting example is "Vandenberg" by Oliver Lange from 1971, also published under the title "Defiance". More science-fictiony is C. M. Kornbluth's "Not This August" (available free on Project Gutenberg Canada) and Heinlein's "Sixth Column".

Interesting to note that the new edition of FM 3-24 does not have a bibliography. I suppose this was either to forestall arguments and criticisms about what was included in the last one or what should have been in a new one, or a realization that most officers would not ever read more than two or three titles in it.

Jean Larteguy wrote a sequel to The Centurions called "The Praetorians", I understand this is being republished after a long time out of print. He also wrote an adventure novel about guerrilla warfare in Laos called "The Bronze Drums".

Speaking of Laos, the Robin Moore book "The Green Berets" has an interesting section in it about a Special Forces captain doing his covert best with organizing a Meo tribe against the Pathet Lao. Probably the best part of the book.

Edwin noted the Vietnam fiction reading list above, my favourites are "Fields of Fire" by James Webb and "The 13th Valley" by Del Vecchio but I agree that most Vietnam fiction is about the American Army, not about guerrilla warfare.

An uncommon subject is the Greek insurgency of the 40s; I remember an old novel by Niven Busch called The Captive City about a British mission trapped in Athens during the brief urban revolt by the Communists in December 1944.

Han Suyin wrote "And the Rain My Drink" in 1956, soon after the end of the Malayan emergency which is the setting of this novel. There aren't many fictional works on Malaya.

There is hardly any fiction in English about the Cyprus Emergency, so Lawrence Durrell's "Bitter Lemons" will have to do, about the years that he spent on Cyprus in the middle of the EOKA insurgency.

One thing that hasn't been mentioned so far is the "America conquered" genre: Rugged Individualists Fighting On Against The Red Hordes. This genre is related to the "invasion literature" of Britain, goes back to the 1920s and Floyd Gibbons' "Red Napoleon", and reaches its vilest form in "The Turner Diaries" and a lot of other self-published crap. An interesting example is "Vandenberg" by Oliver Lange from 1971, also published under the title "Defiance". More science-fictiony is C. M. Kornbluth's "Not This August" (available free on Project Gutenberg Canada) and Heinlein's "Sixth Column".

Interesting to note that the new edition of FM 3-24 does not have a bibliography. I suppose this was either to forestall arguments and criticisms about what was included in the last one or what should have been in a new one, or a realization that most officers would not ever read more than two or three titles in it.

Jay, I have one for you, and its an oldy but goodie. Esrkine Caldwell's _All Night Long: A Novel of Guerilla Warfare in Russia, published by the book league of America in New York, 1942. The dedication is informative:
"For Lydia Mikhailovna Mitserva, who revealed the spirit of the Russian partisans."

The fascinating thing about this work is how EARLY in the Russo-German component of WW II it occurred, with the Germans still on the OSTMARSCH at the time.

How did a naval officer come by this little gem? One of my Russian history colleagues departed our department and he bequeathed several of his books to the general population of the department. First come first serve, half of treasure hunting is knowing what treasure looks like.

vr, John
John T. Kuehn, Ph.D.
Major General William Stofft Professor (for another five months)
Army Command and General Staff College

Everyone: These have been terrific additions to my hit list of guerrilla and irregular warfare novels. I'm in the midst of considering a course on war literature that included unconventional conflicts as well as more traditional fare of battlefield, grunt life, and the homefront.

I also apologies in my long delay in thanking you. It's been a real joy to catch up with H-War recently and, of course, if there's more you'd like to share, LET FLY!

Cheers,

Jay

Regarding the guerrilla aspects of Germany's colonial wars in Africa, these two might be of interest:

  • André Brink. The Other Side of Silence. Orlando: Harcourt, 2003.
  • Uwe Timm. Morenga. München: Verlag Autoren-Edition, 1978. (English translation: Morenga. New York: New Directions, 2003.

For the French wars of decolonization, I'd recommend taking a look at Jean Larteguy's The Centurion.