Invisible Armies: An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare from Ancient Times to the Present (2013)

"Enormous, brilliant and important…. Terrific… Astute… Boot’s Invisible Armies should be required reading in the White House and Pentagon—the breadth of his knowledge, his first-hand experience, and his sensible point of view make this the best and most realistic book on the subject since that classic work Colonel C. E. Caldwell’s Small WarsTheir Principles and Practice, with the additional advantage that it is well-written, and as readable as a novel…. Lucid, enlightening, and highly readable.”

--Michael Korda, The Daily Beast

“A definitive survey of the long history of irregular warfare…. One of the most pleasing aspects of "Invisible Armies" is the superb character sketches that Mr. Boot provides of some of the most important individual actors in military history, insurgent leaders like Washington, T.E. Lawrence, Mao, Castro, Ho Chi Minh and Osama bin Laden…. Mr. Boot's impressive work of military history is destined to be the classic account of what may be the oldest as well as the hardest form of war.

--John Nagl, Wall Street Journal

"A sweeping panorama that ranges over a vast terrain…. Thoughtful, smart, fluent, with an eye for the good story."

--Mark Mazower, New York Times Sunday Book Review

As fitting for the twenty-first century as von Clausewitz's On War was in its own time, Invisible Armies is the only complete account that assesses the impact of guerrilla uprisings throughout world history. Beginning with the first insurgencies in the ancient world -- when Alexander the Great discovered that fleet nomads were harder to defeat than massive conventional armies -- bestselling author Max Boot masterfully guides us from the Jewish rebellion against the Roman Empire up through the horrors of the French-Indochina War and the shadowy, post-9/11 battlefields of today. Relying on a diverse cast of unforgettable characters – not only Mao, Che, and Castro but also the legendary heartthrob Giuseppe Garibaldi, the eccentric Zionist, Orde Wingate, and the “Quiet American,” Edward Lansdale -- Boot explodes everything we thought we knew about unconventional warfare. The result is a rollicking read that is also our most important work of non-traditional military history—and a new way to think about the threats of the future.

“Works rather well. Even when the author is rattling through fairly familiar territory, such as the failures of the French against the Vietminh, he usually finds something fresh or pithy to say…. Counter-insurgency may be out of fashion again, but it remains necessary to know how to do it. Mr Boot offers a timely reminder to politicians and generals of the hard-earned lessons of history.”

--The Economist

"The word “magisterial” is bandied about far too freely these days, but in the case of Max Boot’s sweeping and deeply researched history of guerrilla warfare, it proves fair. Somewhere in the first third of Boot’s book, you begin to realize that guerrilla wars (and terrorism and insurgencies) are the way we fight, while the formal set battles of, say, the Napoleonic wars are but an exception."

--Lucas Wittmann, The Daily Beast

"There’s no better guide to both the past and the future than Invisible Armies, the tour de force of a scholar as well as a man who’s seen American adversaries and soldiers at work up close." 

--The Weekly Standard

"Remarkably comprehensive... Boot sustains the reader's interest with lively writing and sharp characterizations."

--Lawrence Freedman, Foreign Affairs

"A sweeping, well-written, and comprehensively documented history of guerrilla war.... A compelling narrative and perceptive analysis: a must read in today's world."

--Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

"Sweeping, meticulous, and exceptionally thoughtful. Max Boot's Invisible Armies is an important, compelling contribution to our understanding of how men make war."

--Rick Atkinson, author of An Army at Dawn and The Day of Battle 

"Max Boot has produced the most definitive and comprehensive work to date on the dominant form of warfare of our times. From the origins of guerrilla warfare to current conflicts the reader travels through the centuries of time understanding the nature and character of unconventional warfare yet because of the power of Boot's narrative and sheer ability to tell a story, the reader can live the experience. A must read for scholars, military and government professionals and a fascinating journey for the general public."

--General (ret.) Jack Keane, former Army Vice Chief of Staff  

"Guerrilla wars will dominate our future, and in this valuable and fascinating book, Max Boot recounts their historic antecedents -- beginning with the barbarians at the gates of the Roman Empire. It is filled with many lessons on how to wage effective counterinsurgencies. But it is also simply a wonderful and readable historic narrative filled with colorful characters."

--Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs, Einstein, and Benjamin Franklin  

"This is the definitive treatment of guerrilla warfare through the ages -- a tour de force by a preeminent military historian who has advised generals, policymakers and political leaders on the subject."

--Senator John McCain

"With precision and a quiet passion, Max Boot has written a landmark book about a perennial and important challenge: guerrilla warfare. A scholar with a great gift for storytelling, Boot takes us on a grand and vivid tour of millennia of a kind of conflict that confronts us even now."

--Jon Meacham, author of American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House and Franklin and Winston

"In Invisible Armies, Max Boot, with flair and insight, delivers a rich and enthralling history of guerrilla warfare. This is an important work with a powerful message: throughout the years counterinsurgency has more often than not been the norm, and if we are not prepared to deal with such nasty little wars in the future, there'll be a heavy price to pay.  A serious, sobering book, this epic work belongs on the shelf of military history buffs and policymakers alike."

--Jay Winik, author of April 1865 and The Great Upheaval 

"An expansive nuts-and-bolts historical survey from a keen military mind."

--Kirkus Reviews

"...impressively researched, astutely synthesized, and eminently readable."


"A considerable achievement.... A valuable scholarly research tool as well as popular history... A disinterested examination of a method of war that is still poorly understood, yet increasingly relevant to our own security...  Magisterial."

--Victor Davis Hanson, The New Criterion



The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power (2002; rev. 2014)

Selected as one of the best books of 2002 by The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times and The Christian Science Monitor.

Winner of the 2003 General Wallace M. Greene Jr. Award, given annually by the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation for the best nonfiction book pertaining to Marine Corps history.

On the required reading lists of the Marine Commandant, Chief of Naval Operations, and Air Force Chief of Staff.



“Anyone who wants to understand why America has permanently entered a new era in international relations must read [this book]…. Vividly written and thoroughly researched.”
--Los Angeles Times

“Excellent yet concise… Boot combines meticulous scholarship with great storytelling and provocative opinions. He draws from his research direct lessons for a nation confronting the threat of global terrorism.”
--John Lehman, Philadelphia Inquirer

“A great story and a compelling read.”
--Foreign Affairs

“The book of the season.”
--National Journal 

America's "small wars," "imperial wars," or, as the Pentagon now terms them, "low-intensity conflicts," have played an essential but little-appreciated role in its growth as a world power. Beginning with Jefferson's expedition against the Barbary Pirates, Max Boot tells the exciting stories of our sometimes minor but often bloody landings in Samoa, the Philippines, China, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Mexico, Russia, and elsewhere. Along the way he sketches colorful portraits of little-known military heroes such as Stephen Decatur, "Fighting Fred" Funston, and Smedley Butler. From 1800 to the present day, such undeclared wars have made up the vast majority of our military engagements. Yet the military has often resisted preparing itself for small wars, preferring instead to train for big conflicts that seldom come. Boot re-examines the tragedy of Vietnam through a "small war" prism. He concludes with a devastating critique of the Powell Doctrine and a convincing argument that the armed forces must reorient themselves to better handle small-war missions, because such clashes are an inevitable result of America's far-flung imperial responsibilities.



War Made New: Technology, Warfare, and the Course of History: 1500 to Today (2006)

War made New
A “book of the week” in The Week magazine, a New York Times Book Review “Editors’ Choice,” “one of the best books of the year” in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and one of the “Notable Naval Books of 2006” in Naval Institute Proceedings.


 “Riveting…. This is a book for both the general reader and reading generals.”
--Ralph Peters, The New York Post

 “Brilliantly crafted history.”
--Maj. Gen. Robert H. Scales, The Wall Street Journal


 “[An] unusual and magisterial survey of technology and war…. Illuminating.”
--Josiah Bunting, New York Times Book Review

 “A fascinating look at the complicated relationship between warfare and
technological development by a master historian.”

--Barry Gewen,

A monumental, groundbreaking work that shows how technological and strategic revolutions have transformed the battlefield
Combining gripping narrative history with wide-ranging analysis, War Made New focuses on four “revolutions” in military affairs and describes how inventions ranging from gunpowder to GPS-guided air strikes have remade the field of battle—and shaped the rise and fall of empires.
War Made New begins with the Gunpowder Revolution and explains warfare’s evolution from ritualistic, drawn-out engagements to much deadlier events, precipitating the rise of the modern nation-state. He next explores the triumph of steel and steam during the Industrial Revolution, showing how it powered the spread of European colonial empires. Moving into the twentieth century and the Second Industrial Revolution, Boot examines three critical clashes of World War II to illustrate how new technology such as the tank, radio, and airplane ushered in terrifying new forms of warfare and the rise of centralized, and even totalitarian, world powers. Finally, Boot focuses on the Gulf War, the invasion of Afghanistan, and the Iraq War—arguing that even as cutting-edge technologies have made America the greatest military power in world history, advanced communications systems have allowed decentralized, “irregular” forces to become an increasingly significant threat.