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 is the inside story of the small group of soldier-scholars, led by General David Petraeus, who plotted to revolutionize one of the largest, oldest, and most hidebound institutions—the United States military. Their aim was to build a new Army that could fight the new kind of war in the post–Cold War age: not massive wars on vast battlefields, but “small wars” in cities and villages, against insurgents and terrorists. These would be wars not only of fighting but of “nation building,” often not of necessity but of choice.

Based on secret documents, private emails, and interviews with more than one hundred key characters, including Petraeus, the tale unfolds against the backdrop of the wars against insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan. But the main insurgency is the one mounted at home by ambitious, self-consciously intellectual officers—Petraeus, John Nagl, H. R. McMaster, and others—many of them classmates or colleagues in West Point’s Social Science Department who rose through the ranks, seized with an idea of how to fight these wars better. Amid the crisis, they forged a community (some of them called it a cabal or mafia) and adapted their enemies’ techniques to overhaul the culture and institutions of their own Army.

Fred Kaplan describes how these men and women maneuvered the idea through the bureaucracy and made it official policy. This is a story of power, politics, ideas, and personalities—and how they converged to reshape the twenty-first-century American military. But it is also a cautionary tale about how creative doctrine can harden into dogma, 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—and made it more tempting—for political leaders to wade into wars that they would be wise to avoid.
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About the author

Fred Kaplan is the national-security columnist for Slate and the author of five books, including Dark Territory: The Secret History of Cyber War; The Wizards of Armageddon; 1959; Daydream Believers; and 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.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Simon and Schuster
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Published on
Jan 2, 2013
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Pages
432
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ISBN
9781451642667
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
History / General
History / Military / General
History / Military / United States
History / United States / 21st Century
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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“An important, disturbing, and gripping history” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review), the never-before-told story of the computer scientists and the NSA, Pentagon, and White House policymakers who invent and employ cyber wars—where every country can be a major power player and every hacker a mass destroyer.

In June 1983, President Reagan watched the movie War Games, in which a teenager unwittingly hacks the Pentagon, and asked his top general if the scenario was plausible. The general said it was. This set in motion the first presidential directive on computer security.

From the 1991 Gulf War to conflicts in Haiti, Serbia, Syria, the former Soviet republics, Iraq, and Iran, where cyber warfare played a significant role, Dark Territory chronicles a little-known past that shines an unsettling light on our future. Fred Kaplan probes the inner corridors of the National Security Agency, the beyond-top-secret cyber units in the Pentagon, the “information warfare” squads of the military services, and the national security debates in the White House to reveal the details of the officers, policymakers, scientists, and spies who devised this new form of warfare and who have been planning—and (more often than people know) fighting—these wars for decades.

“An eye-opening history of our government’s efforts to effectively manage our national security in the face of the largely open global communications network established by the World Wide Web….Dark Territory is a page-turner [and] consistently surprising” (The New York Times).
WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE • Winner of The New York Public Library’s Helen Bernstein Book Award • “A new classic of science reporting.”—The New York Times

The riveting true story of a small town ravaged by industrial pollution, Toms River melds hard-hitting investigative reporting, a fascinating scientific detective story, and an unforgettable cast of characters into a sweeping narrative in the tradition of A Civil Action, The Emperor of All Maladies, and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

One of New Jersey’s seemingly innumerable quiet seaside towns, Toms River became the unlikely setting for a decades-long drama that culminated in 2001 with one of the largest legal settlements in the annals of toxic dumping. A town that would rather have been known for its Little League World Series champions ended up making history for an entirely different reason: a notorious cluster of childhood cancers scientifically linked to local air and water pollution. For years, large chemical companies had been using Toms River as their private dumping ground, burying tens of thousands of leaky drums in open pits and discharging billions of gallons of acid-laced wastewater into the town’s namesake river.

In an astonishing feat of investigative reporting, prize-winning journalist Dan Fagin recounts the sixty-year saga of rampant pollution and inadequate oversight that made Toms River a cautionary example for fast-growing industrial towns from South Jersey to South China. He tells the stories of the pioneering scientists and physicians who first identified pollutants as a cause of cancer, and brings to life the everyday heroes in Toms River who struggled for justice: a young boy whose cherubic smile belied the fast-growing tumors that had decimated his body from birth; a nurse who fought to bring the alarming incidence of childhood cancers to the attention of authorities who didn’t want to listen; and a mother whose love for her stricken child transformed her into a tenacious advocate for change.

A gripping human drama rooted in a centuries-old scientific quest, Toms River is a tale of dumpers at midnight and deceptions in broad daylight, of corporate avarice and government neglect, and of a few brave individuals who refused to keep silent until the truth was exposed.

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY NPR AND KIRKUS REVIEWS

“A thrilling journey full of twists and turns, Toms River is essential reading for our times. Dan Fagin handles topics of great complexity with the dexterity of a scholar, the honesty of a journalist, and the dramatic skill of a novelist.”—Siddhartha Mukherjee, M.D., author of the Pulitzer Prize–winning The Emperor of All Maladies
 
“A complex tale of powerful industry, local politics, water rights, epidemiology, public health and cancer in a gripping, page-turning environmental thriller.”—NPR

“Unstoppable reading.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer
 
“Meticulously researched and compellingly recounted . . . It’s every bit as important—and as well-written—as A Civil Action and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.”—The Star-Ledger
 
“Fascinating . . . a gripping environmental thriller.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
 
“An honest, thoroughly researched, intelligently written book.”—Slate
 
“[A] hard-hitting account . . . a triumph.”—Nature
 
“Absorbing and thoughtful.”—USA Today


From the Hardcover edition.
"General McChrystal is a legendary warrior with a fine eye for enduring lessons about leadership, courage, and consequence." —Tom Brokaw

General Stanley McChrystal is widely admired for his hunger to know the truth, his courage to find it, and his humility to listen to those around him. Even as the commanding officer of all U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan, he stationed himself forward and frequently went on patrols with his troops to experience their challenges firsthand. In this illuminating New York Times bestseller, McChrystal frankly explores the major episodes and controversies of his career. He describes the many outstanding leaders he served with and the handful of bad leaders he learned not to emulate. And he paints a vivid portrait of how the military establishment turned itself, in one generation, into the adaptive, resilient force that would soon be tested in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the wider War on Terror.

"A compelling account of his impressive career." -The Wall Street Journal '

"This is a brilliant book about leadership wrapped inside a fascinating personal narrative." -Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs

Stanley McChrystal retired in July 2010 as a four-star general in the U.S. Army. His last assignment was as the commander of the International Security Assistance Force and as the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. He is currently a senior fellow at Yale University's Jackson Institute for Global Affairs and cofounder of the McChrystal Group, a leadership consulting firm. He and his wife, Annie, live in Virginia.
Drawing on fresh source material, Fred Kaplan considers the importance From Dickens and Mesmerism of Dickens' involvement with mesmerism for his work and his personality. In so doing he describes a significant intellectual and spiritual movement and provides new and controversial insights into Dickens' fiction.

The mesmeric movement in England, particularly its controversial activities during the late 1830s and the 1840s, intensified Dickens' concern with the ways in which people discover and exert their energies and will to control each other. Dickens' own activities as a mesmerist provide the biographical touchstone for his image of himself as a doctor of the mind. Fred Kaplan examines the author's entire oeuvre in a synoptic, thematic fashion, exploring the attitudes shaped by the mesmerists that are reflected in the novels' psychological tensions. The final chapter provides an overview of the Romantic, Victorian, and Modern currents that may be found in Dickens' fascination with mesmeric power.

Originally published in 1975.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback and hardcover editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

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