The best guerrilla warfare books

1 authors have picked their favorite books about guerrilla warfare and why they recommend each book.

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Between Two Fires-Guerrilla War In The Spanish Sierras

By David Baird,

Book cover of Between Two Fires-Guerrilla War In The Spanish Sierras

This book takes a different look at the Spanish Civil War. It looks at the history of the guerrilla war in the Spanish sierras, where poorly armed men waged a drawn out battle against the Nationalist troops for years. It is also in the province of Málaga.


Who am I?

Joan Fallon is a Scottish novelist who has lived in the province of Málaga, in southern Spain, for almost thirty years. She has a great passion for all aspects of Spanish history and culture. While writing a book about the lives of Spanish women after the Civil War, she learned about the unbelievable massacre of thousands of innocent people as they left their homes and fled to Almería in 1937. Women, children and old men were gunned down by cruising gunboats. A historian, teacher and now an author, Joan wanted to know why nobody ever spoke about this tragedy.


I wrote...

Spanish Lavender

By Joan Fallon,

Book cover of Spanish Lavender

What is my book about?

Spanish Lavender is a love story set in the Spanish Civil War. In January 1937, Elizabeth, a young English girl decides to remain in Spain when the rest of her family returns to the peace of England. Alone in the devastated city of Málaga, she makes friends with two young men, Juan, an idealistic Spaniard, and Alex, a pragmatic Englishman. Together they make their escape from the war-torn city along the coast to Almería. Amongst the death and carnage, she falls in love with Juan, only to lose him shortly afterward when he is badly wounded. Believing he is dead she returns to England.

SAS Ghost Patrol

By Damien Lewis,

Book cover of SAS Ghost Patrol

A gripping account of the Big Raids in September 1942 with an abundance of firsthand accounts, this episode of the Desert War is often overlooked, soon to be overshadowed by the 2nd battle of El Alamein but the story has much to teach students of guerrilla tactics today, i.e., the dangers of ‘mission-creep.’

Who am I?

I am a successful published author of military history nonfiction and fiction with 44 titles in print and have been a lifelong obsessive on the subject of WWII which was my parents’ war. I started on a diet of black & white war movies, then epics such as Tobruk, Raid on Rommel et al. I have been lecturing on the subject at the former Centre for Lifelong Learning at Newcastle University (Now the ‘Explore’ Programme) for 25 years. I am also an experienced and much travelled WWII Battlefield tour guide, with experience of guiding all the major Western Front campaigns. I’m a lifelong historical interpreter and re-enactor.


I wrote...

Blitzing Rommel

By John Sadler,

Book cover of Blitzing Rommel

What is my book about?

For Joe Milburn, Geordie to the core and son of a tenant farmer, war presents an intoxicating mix of terror, tragedy, bloodshed, adrenalin, and opportunity.

As his wartime exploits earn him admiration and respect, he begins to mix in circles very different from those he grew up in – and to take part in military operations that go not only beyond his own previous experience, but beyond the expectations of the most practised of soldiers. When Joe finds himself in North Africa he discovers, among all the loss, love, in the flawless form of Nurse Alice Fleming. Yet as he makes plans for a safer future, one more challenge calls. What else can a man expect when he keeps company with the newly-born SAS?

Sleepwater Beat

By Kathrin Hutson,

Book cover of Sleepwater Beat

A kind of perfect dystopia. The fractured storytelling is as compelling as the characters and greater narrative itself. Sleepwater Beat has a comic book level of action and appeal while also feeling incredibly intellectual and relevant to today’s hot topic issues. Again there is a healthy dose of minority repression on display in the cast of charters presented in this book. Hutson’s Sci-Fi is just as dark and gritty as her fantasy.


Who am I?

I currently reside in my home state of Connecticut with my darling wife and a duo of sweet cuddly dogs. I am a renaissance man having dabbled in Acting for Film and Theater, Fencing and Mixed Martial Arts, Professional Dorkary, and a bevy of other passions before coming to land on writing. Having stepped into numerous fantasy worlds over the years I have had the chance to sample many different flavors of imagination and developed a refined taste for all things dark, mystical, and tragic. 


I wrote...

Calling the Reaper: First Book of Purgatory

By Jason Pere,

Book cover of Calling the Reaper: First Book of Purgatory

What is my book about?

The time of the Unity has ended. The realm of man is stranded between Paradise and Purgatory. The Valkyrie and Reaper battle over the fate of all who pass from the land of the living into the afterlife. Eight mortal spirits from vastly different worlds tread the same, path toward their last, crucial decision. In this rich, harrowing tale of pride, deceit, honor, vengeance, and redemption, each individual must battle their inner turmoil, facing the sacrifices they have made before their unavoidable end in the land of the living. But their last day in life is also their first day of death amidst the terrors of the underworld. Lord Master Death wants them all…and the real battle has only just begun.

A Savage Conflict

By Daniel E. Sutherland,

Book cover of A Savage Conflict: The Decisive Role of Guerrillas in the American Civil War

In researching Blood Feud, I discovered that some of my ancestors were Union guerrillas who operated near the future feud area. Devil Anse Hatfield led a unit of Confederate home guards in that same region. Hatfield’s uncle, who is widely believed to have murdered Harmon McCoy in the opening salvo of the feud, was said subsequently to have killed a cousin of my father’s uncle during a guerrilla skirmish. I had always understood the Civil War to entail vast battalions of uniformed soldiers mowing each other down as they marched toward enemy lines. A Savage Conflict made me realize that the brutal depredations of guerrillas played a major role in the war and left a legacy of bitter factional hatred that factored into the subsequent feuds.

Who am I?

My father’s favorite first cousin Ava married Homer McCoy, a direct descendant of the Fighting McCoys. Homer’s aunt married a Hatfield, so my family is distantly related by marriage to both the Hatfields and McCoys. As a girl, Ava witnessed the aftermath of the feud: The elders in her household froze whenever they heard pounding hoofbeats in the night. She assured me that the reasons for the feud were far more complicated than escaped hogs or the derring-do of sociopathic veterans nostalgic for the bloodbaths of the Civil War. I started reading whatever I could find and visiting feud sites, trying to understand what had really gone on and why.


I wrote...

Blood Feud: The Hatfields and the McCoys: The Epic Story of Murder and Vengeance

By Lisa Alther,

Book cover of Blood Feud: The Hatfields and the McCoys: The Epic Story of Murder and Vengeance

What is my book about?

America’s most notorious family feud began in 1865 when a Confederate relative of “Devil Anse” Hatfield allegedly murdered Harmon McCoy, a wounded Union soldier home on leave. Nearly three decades of violence and murder ensued. Attempts to arrest the perpetrators resulted in a case that went all the way to the Supreme Court.

The feud events were not isolated atrocities. Other feuds were erupting all over the Southern Appalachians during that time, and Blood Feud examines some of the many issues involved in this carnage. The image the feuds spawned of bloodthirsty mountaineers permeated American culture and set the stage for industrialists to invade those mountains and extract their coal and timber, guarding the profits for themselves and leaving behind a legacy of poverty, ill-health, and environmental devastation.

Steelheart

By Brandon Sanderson,

Book cover of Steelheart

What’s that you say, Steelheart isn’t urban fantasy? Even when it’s written by the emperor of fantasy himself, Mr. Brandon “I’ve written over fifty bestselling novels in twenty years” Sanderson. Well to that I say: Sparks! You’re like a rabbit doing maths equations instead of looking for foxes. And if you love ridiculous metaphors like that, then Steelheart is like a banana farm for guns. What’s not to love about this book? It’s a world filled with superpowered humans and every single one of them becomes an Epic villain. If that’s not dark enough humour for you, then David’s attempts at analogies will keep you entertained for days. I mean, who hasn’t looked at motorcycles racing towards you and thought “They looked dangerous, like alligators. Really fast alligators wearing black. Ninja alligators!” 

I absolutely love this book and all of the Reckoners books that follow.


Who am I?

I’m a writer by day and martial arts instructor by night, so when not spending time with my wife and kids, I love nothing more than to read, write, and fight. My favourite books are the ones filled with irreverent characters, who can smirk and joke at any grim situation, laughing the light of entertainment through the darkest of ordeals. These are the type of books I’m always drawn to, both in writing and in reading, where I can imagine taking any standout character and dropping them into a completely different book, then sitting back to watch the chaos they could make.


I wrote...

The Memory of Blades

By James Dwyer,

Book cover of The Memory of Blades

What is my book about?

“They say to hold a Memory Blade is to live forever, both as a life trapped within the blade and as a ruling Memory Lord carved into history. I say to hold a Memory Blade is to become an utter bastard, with three dozen pricks inside your head, all encouraging you to do depraved and despicable things. Immense fun, yes, but bloody dangerous when you have the four other Memory Lords coming to your city to celebrate your father’s funeral, doing their best to politely kill you and pilfer your family’s sword. So all I have to do is get through the next twenty-four hours without being spectacularly murdered and I should be fine. Right?“

– Lord Seff Thurat, beleaguered dilettante and all-around scoundrel

Tiger the LURP Dog

By Kenn Miller,

Book cover of Tiger the LURP Dog

By far the best novel on LRRPs in Vietnam, and perhaps the best fiction to come out of the war. Highly decorated Miller extended his tour three times with F Company 58th Infantry (LRP) and L Company Rangers in order to “out guerrilla the guerilla.” Book awarded the Bernal Diaz Prize for military fiction.


Who am I?

I served as an infantry platoon leader, reconnaissance platoon leader, and rifle company commander in the 199th Light Infantry Brigade. I was an instructor in the Florida Phase of the U.S. Army Ranger School for two years.


I wrote...

Inside the LRRPs: Rangers in Vietnam

By Michael Lee Lanning,

Book cover of Inside the LRRPs: Rangers in Vietnam

What is my book about?

Vietnam was a different kind of war, calling for a different kind of soldier. The LRRPs--Long Range Reconnaissance Patrols--were that new breed of fighting man. They operated in six-man teams deep within enemy territory, and were the eyes and ears of the units they served. This is their story--of perseverence under extreme hardship and uncommon bravery--and how they carried out the war's most hazardous missions.

I Didn't Do It for You

By Michela Wrong,

Book cover of I Didn't Do It for You: How the World Betrayed a Small African Nation

Wrong’s account of Eritrea’s bid for independence from Ethiopia highlights the conflict between the needs of the people and the wants of leaders. The title of her book is taken from what a soldier liberating Ethiopia from Italian rule told a local and sets the tone of the book. Time and again Wrong describes how leaders will starve their own people or bomb their own soldiers provide it help keep them in power.


Who am I?

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith are professors of politics at New York University. They use the mathematical approach of game theory to understand the incentives of leaders in different settings. The Dictator’s Handbook distills decades of academic work into a few essential rules that encapsulate how leaders come to power and remain there.


We wrote...

The Dictator's Handbook: Why Bad Behavior Is Almost Always Good Politics

By Bruce Bueno de Mesquita (lead author), Alastair Smith,

Book cover of The Dictator's Handbook: Why Bad Behavior Is Almost Always Good Politics

What is our book about?

Our cynical, but we believe accurate, view of politics examines how leaders come to power, stay in power, and rule for their benefit rather than that for the people. No leader rules alone. Everyone needs essential supporters to implement policy, collect taxes and keep the people under control. Whether we consider dictators, democrats or corporate bosses, political success requires that leaders must always take care of their coalition of supporters first and foremost. In such diverse settings as public policy, tax collection, corruption, revolution, foreign aid, and fighting wars, the handbook shows that the good of the people is always a secondary concern, at best. However, the book contains a hopeful message. By understanding politics through the lens of what is best for the leader, we can constraint leader rapacity.

The East Asian War, 1592-1598

By James B. Lewis (editor),

Book cover of The East Asian War, 1592-1598: International Relations, Violence and Memory

This is a valuable edited collection that brings together scholarship from experts in Korea, Japan, Europe, and the United States. The translation of works by East Asian scholars is particularly useful as these materials are largely inaccessible to Western readers. The book spans events from before the war to various memories of the war in the countries involved, touching on specialized topics including Hideyoshi’s planning process, guerrilla warfare in Korea, how the war figured in the grand strategy of the Ming dynasty, and how the war impacted subsequent cultural exchanges between the countries involved.  However, note that this book assumes a basic level of knowledge about the war, so readers are advised to check out one or more of the books above first.


Who am I?

I have been fascinated by this war since I first learned about it in graduate school. It inspired my dissertation, which focused on the Three Great Campaigns of the Wanli Emperor, which in turn resulted in my book, A Dragon’s Head & A Serpent’s Tail.  That book has inspired two sequels of sorts thus far, with another one to come.


I wrote...

Dragon's Head and A Serpent's Tail: Ming China and the First Great East Asian War, 1592-1598

By Kenneth M. Swope,

Book cover of Dragon's Head and A Serpent's Tail: Ming China and the First Great East Asian War, 1592-1598

What is my book about?

The Great East Asian War of 1592-1598 was the largest war in the world in the sixteenth century in terms of the number of troops deployed, yet it is scarcely known outside of East Asia. This book presents the first full-length treatment of this seminal conflict from the perspective of Ming China, which was the target of the Japanese warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s designs, even though the war itself was fought entirely in Korea.

While focusing on the significance of the war for the Ming Empire in China, this book also brings in Korean and Japanese perspectives and evaluates the war’s significance for early modern military history as a whole, with particular emphasis upon the implications of the conflict for the so-called “Military Revolution” thesis.

Wolfsbane (Discarded Heroes Vol. 3)

By Ronie Kendig,

Book cover of Wolfsbane (Discarded Heroes Vol. 3)

The Discarded Heroes series holds a special place for me, as these books gave me the push I needed to face my fears and finally pursue publishing my writing. The entire Nightshade team was written so authentically, they feel like part of my extended family. I’m recommending book three specifically, because of Canyon and Dani. Their ability to acknowledge their weaknesses, take responsibility for their mistakes, and push through anything to finish their mission still inspires me.


Who am I?

I once thought I was broken, because I became so invested in the characters I read about. I carried them with me out into the real world, where their struggles kept me from focusing on my own tasks. Then I learned this connection is a feature of reading, not a bug. While some people collect book boy/girl-friends–and I do enjoy swooning over a love interest–I am more drawn to those characters I’d want to share a rum with or meet for a beer. Authentic characters show us we’re not alone and inspire us to grow. They become so much more to us than mere words on the page.


I wrote...

On These Black Sands

By Vanessa Rasanen,

Book cover of On These Black Sands

What is my book about?

An awkward stowaway. A troubled pirate captain. Is she the key to his quest or will she be his ruin? 

In a world of secrets and legends, a lost dagger may be the key to saving a nation. But it will take far more than wit and a cutlass to retrieve it. Can a runaway heir and a pirate work together--or will their secrets drown all hope? An enchanting tale of deceit, magic, and love on the high seas perfect for fans of Adrienne Young, Tricia Levenseller, and Danielle L. Jensen.

Devil's Guard

By George Robert Elford,

Book cover of Devil's Guard: The Fascinating, True Story of the French Foreign Legion's Nazi Battalion

I had read this years ago but listened to the audiobook recently. Story of a former German Waffen-SS officer fighting with the Legion in the First Indochina War. The book is presented by the author as nonfiction but considered to be untrue by military historians and usually sold as fiction. Regardless it’s a great read and or listen. This is my Legion entertainment choice! If interested a book set is available with its best-selling series (six books) that has sold over a million copies.


Who am I?

One has to learn about France's Military history to understand the Legion. I served in her ranks, and my efforts are to help educate those interested in facts. That is why I wrote the book Appel: A Canadian in the French Foreign Legion and continue to laisse with the Legion to try and help increase recruitment.


I wrote...

Appel: A Canadian in the French Foreign Legion

By Joel Struthers,

Book cover of Appel: A Canadian in the French Foreign Legion

What is my book about?

In Appel, Joel Struthers recounts the dangers and demands of military life, from the rigours of recruitment and operational training in the rugged mountains of France to face-to-face combat in the grasslands of some of Africa’s most troubled nations.

Told through the eyes of a soldier, and interspersed with humorous anecdotes, Appel is a fascinating story that debunks myths about the French Foreign Legion and shows it more accurately as a professional arm of the French military. Struthers provides insight into the rigorous discipline that the Legion instills in its young recruits, who trade their identities as individuals for a life of adventure and a role in a unified force whose motto is “Honour and Loyalty.”

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