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The New Rules of War: How America Can Win--Against Russia, China, and Other Threats Paperback – January 28, 2020

4.6 out of 5 stars 291 ratings

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Editorial Reviews


“The sharpest account of the dilemmas of war and peace I’ve read in years… A wonderful read.” -- Evening Standard (UK)

“Why do western powers keep getting beaten when they go to war? This hard-hitting polemic by a former US paratrooper explains why – we are addicted to expensive, big tech that is useless against guerrillas.” -- The Times (UK)

“[This] iconoclastic book is being hailed by radicals as a wake-up call to governments and armed forces everywhere… Much of what [McFate] says convinces… If we go on fighting our wars the old way, we shall go on losing them.” -- Max Hastings, The Sunday Times

“An important handbook for a new generation of warriors and a primer for the conduct of contemporary armed conflict. The question posed is how to secure a favorable outcome when the concept of victory is so fluid and shaped by perception as much as any military result.” -- Sir Richard Dearlove, former director, MI6

“This book isn’t pretty, but it’s necessary reading for the strategically inclined.” -- Kirkus Reviews

“McFate’s experience… inform(s) this standout work of military science… An authoritative and skillful analysis of the state of war today.” -- Publishers Weekly

“The future is one of deep uncertainty and few offer a bold or clear exposition of its character. McFate has done just that and the results are both compelling and persuasive. If we heed his advice, we may make the necessary adjustments in time to avert a serious catastrophe.” -- Prof. Robert Johnson, Director of the Changing Character of War Program, Oxford University  

“A fascinating and disturbing book . . . Mr. McFate writes with an insider’s knowledge ... the worrying trends he describes make this book a powerful call to arms to those who do not want a world awash with mercenaries.” -- The Economist on The Modern Mercenary

“Thought-provoking . . . Some of [McFate’s] stories have never been told before, which makes the book particularly valuable.” -- Foreign Affairs on The Modern Mercenary

“McFate’s persuasive, unsettling, and nonpolemical account describes the way PMSCs are changing the face of war.” -- Publishers Weekly (starred review) on The Modern Mercenary

“Essential reading for anyone who wants to understand a new component of modern warfare.”  -- General Stanley A. McChrystal on The Modern Mercenary

“A must read for political leaders who are drawn into having to fight today’s wars.”  -- Sir Richard Dearlove, former head of MI6 on The Modern Mercenary

“With well-drawn and fascinating characters and ground level espionage and combat sure to please fans of Brad Thor, Tom Clancy, and Daniel Silva, Shadow War is simply one of the most entertaining and intriguing books I’ve read in quite some time.” -- Mark Greaney, #1 NYT Bestselling author of Back Blast

“Step aside, faux thriller writers and armchair warrior storytellers. Ex-mercenary Sean McFate has produced a first novel that’s assured, authentic, timely, gritty, and most of all real... I enjoyed the hell out of it.” -- C.J. Box, New York Times Best-selling Author of Badlands and Off the Grid

“Locke is another strong hero in the growing subgenre of black-ops thrillers, and Deep Black is a maze of treachery and intrigue to the very end.” -- Booklist Online

“Has an enjoyable, realistic feeling…will appeal to action junkies and armchair diplomats alike.” -- Kirkus Reviews

“An American James Bond meets the twists and turns of “Homeland.” -- Adm James Stavridis, USN (Ret), Supreme Allied Commander at NATO

“A full-tilt thriller… Full of tense moments, survival situations, gun fire, explosions, and even a romance (even if it is short lived)…. I’m definitely looking forward to the next installment of the Tom Locke saga.” -- on Shadow War

Shadow War has pace like a catapult, sudden and fierce, and it will hit readers straight between the eyes.” -- Ted Bell, New York Times bestselling author of Patriot on Shadow War

“Stunning. Sean McFate is a new Sun Tzu…. Drawing on history and ancient principles, McFate masterfully explains how armed conflict works today. The New Rules of War is a must read for anyone who wants to know how war will be fought tomorrow and how the winners will win.” -- Admiral James Stavridis (retired), former Supreme Allied Commander at NATO

From the Back Cover

An urgent, fascinating exploration of warfare--past, present, and future--and what we must do if we want to win today from an 82nd Airborne Division veteran, former private military contractor, and professor of war studies at the National Defense University.

War is timeless. Some things change--weapons, tactics, technology, leadership, objectives--but our desire to go into battle does not. We are living in the age of "durable disorder"--a period of unrest created by numerous factors: China's rise, Russia's resurgence, America's retreat, global terrorism, international criminal empires, climate change, dwindling natural resources, and bloody civil wars. Sean McFate has been on the front lines of deep state conflicts and has studied and taught the history and practice of war. He's seen firsthand the horrors of battle and understands the depth and complexity of the current global military situation.

This devastating turmoil has given rise to difficult questions. What is the future of war? How can we survive? If Americans are drawn into major armed conflict, can we win?

McFate calls upon the legends of military study--Carl von Clausewitz, Sun Tzu, and others, as well as his own experience--and carefully constructs the new rules for the future of military engagement, the ways we can fight and win in an age of entropy: one where corporations, mercenaries, and rogue states have more power and nation-states have less. With examples from the Roman conquest, World War II, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and others, he tackles the differences between conventional and future war, the danger in believing that technology will save us, the genuine leverage of psychological and "shadow" warfare, and much more. McFate's new rules distill the essence of war today, describing what it is in the real world, not what we believe or wish it to be.

Some of these principles are ancient, others are new, but all will permanently shape war now and in the future. By following them, he argues we can prevail. But if we do not, terrorists, rogue states, and others who do not fight conventionally will succeed--and rule the world.

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (January 28, 2020)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 336 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0062843591
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0062843593
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 8.7 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.31 x 0.76 x 8 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.6 out of 5 stars 291 ratings

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About the author

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I’ve been a paratrooper in the US Army’s 82nd Airborne Division. A para-military contractor. An operative in the private intelligence world (think: Wall Street meets CIA). I’ve dealt with African warlords, raised armies for U.S. interest, rode with armed groups in the Sahara, conducted strategic reconnaissance for oil companies, transacted arms deals in Eastern Europe, and helped prevent an impending genocide in the Rwanda region. In between this, I earned degrees from Brown, Harvard, and a PhD from the London School of Economics.

Now I’m an author, my favorite job by far. I write about the world as I’ve witnessed it. Unlike most, I write both serious non-fiction and fiction. What I can’t discuss in my non-fiction ends up in my novels, which are like Tom Clancy for the 2020s.

You can learn more about me here and you can follow me on twitter or Instagram @seanmcfate. I appreciate your support, and answer emails from readers.

Customer reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5
291 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States on January 26, 2019
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42 people found this helpful
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Reviewed in the United States on January 29, 2019
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29 people found this helpful
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Top reviews from other countries

Ali Malik
4.0 out of 5 stars too focused on mercenaries.
Reviewed in Canada on June 8, 2019
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One person found this helpful
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Michele C.
5.0 out of 5 stars Interessante, scritto bene, una certa superficialità nell'analisi
Reviewed in Italy on June 15, 2019
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
Reviewed in Canada on May 15, 2021
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Readford Geddes
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy reading
Reviewed in Germany on February 18, 2020
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Amazon Customer
2.0 out of 5 stars Ok
Reviewed in India on August 22, 2019
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