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The New Rules of War: Victory in the Age of Durable Disorder Audio CD – Unabridged, January 22, 2019
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"Stunning. Sean McFate is a new Sun Tzu." -Admiral James Stavridis (retired), former Supreme Allied Commander at NATO
An Economist Book of the Year 2019
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 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.
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''This book isn't pretty, but it's necessary reading for the strategically inclined.'' --Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Sean McFate is a professor of strategy at the National Defense University and Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service. He is also a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, a think tank. He served as a paratrooper in the US Army's 82nd Airborne Division and then worked for a major private military corporation, where he ran operations similar to those in this book. He is the author of The Modern Mercenary: Private Armies and What They Mean for World Order. He lives with his wife in Washington, DC.
- Publisher : HarperCollins and Blackstone Audio; Unabridged AUDIO edition (January 22, 2019)
- Language : English
- Audio CD : 1 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1982609079
- ISBN-13 : 978-1982609078
- Item Weight : 7.2 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.7 x 1.1 x 5.7 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,665,734 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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McFate’s essential premise is that conventional warfare is dead and that strategists need to focus on the tools that our adversaries use to circumvent conventional strength. This is not in itself a groundbreaking assertion—its become a de rigueur statement amongst strategists since the rise of insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan. But as McFate points out, the chorus of voices making this point has done nothing to change the military’s emphasis on technical solutions to non-technical problems. This has only worsened since DoD reprioritized great power competition. McFate’s understanding of the coming “durable disorder” and the changing character of warfare is refreshing and should be considered deeply and at length by all involved in defense policy.
The book’s imperfections come not in McFate’s assessments, but in his tone and style. He often comes across as overly polemical, almost as though he has an axe to grind. While this doubtless makes for quicker reading--perhaps especially to a lay audience--it leads to blanket statements that undermine the strength of his arguments. For example, McFate dismisses the utility of Clausewitz to discussions of modern conflict, labeling him the “high priest of conventional warfare,” despite having recapitulated Clausewitz’s own distinction between the immutable nature of war and the changing character of warfare only a few paragraphs earlier. This is sloppy: while Clausewitz’s discussion on the conduct of warfare from the Napoleonic era is obviously divorced from conflict today, his understanding of war’s political nature, and that its conduct is governed by the blending of passion, reason, and chance remain as timeless as ever. Indeed McFate’s whole book could be read as an answer to the Prussian’s statement that the first and most important act of strategy is to understand the nature of war one is engaging in, neither mistaking it for nor attempting to change it into something alien to its nature.
Similar statements are sprinkled throughout the book, but they pale in comparison to the fresh thinking he brings to the table. Ultimately, the US and its allies are doomed to suffer failed strategies and increasing insecurity unless they understand, as McFate does, that the utility of conventional force is declining and that new method of advancing the national interest are required.
1) The problem is not only an over reliance on technology vs human wits, but lacking the understanding of what is truly threatening from a technological perspective. A good example is an EMP. The author rightly so pointed out that the use of air carriers and the attack on Pearl Harbor were predicted, but these predictions dismissed by the establishment. The money spent on the F35 would have been enough not only to better protect the grid and having spare parts available, but also to protect nuclear reactors, military bases dependent on electricity and, as battery technology evolves, to provide large household batteries and renewables to most households in the US. The F35 is the battleship of yesterday. But again, this is technology vs. technology + imagination.
2) Borrowing from Kissinger, it is possible to divide the world in three historical moments: places where war as a political tool is unthinkable (e.g. between West European states), places where national interests and alliances resemble the 1st World War (e.g. the Asia of China, Japan, etc.) and places where the 30-year war did not take place as yet (e.g. the islamic world). Of course this is a simplification, but the increased complexity of warfare is not only be due to the rise of non-state actors but also to the multidimensional interaction of different historical moments.
3) The author stresses that the rise of non-state agents, the use of subterfuge and weaponization of information and the impact of mercenaries will change how war is waged. In fact, it has already changed. He stresses that the laws of war will not or may not be followed if one is to be victorious. However, the doctrine of jus in bello and jus ad bellum precedes nation states. My understanding is that the Catholic Church developed these ideas to assist Christian Princes to wage war in moral way in a world characterized by disorder. Of course this is not a book about the moral of warfare, but I am sure that the author gave some thought to the issue. A new understanding of jus in bello and ad bellum will be necessary for democratic societies to succeed, not a utilitarian dismissal of the subject.
4) I am a civilian and by no means know how military education is delivered. However, I suspect that the necessary changes of education must go much deeper than the early introduction to strategy studies. The ability to think differently depends in part on the ability to not believe one's opinions too strongly. There is benefit of having doubts. I suspect that the strength of certainty is a preferred quality in the military career. This is surely difficult to change.
To a degree, these are straw man arguments. The author's positions are fluid enough to accommodate all four points. I enjoyed the book very much. I am sure his classes are not only informative, but truly formative of officers and others lucky enough to meet him in person.
Top reviews from other countries
Its intriguing definitely, especially for the new comer but for people in the field or research, there seem to be more angles that could have been explored further.
A good book but could be so much better,