Editor’s note: Welcome to another installment of our weekly War Books series! The premise is simple and straightforward. We invite a participant to recommend five books and tell us what sets each one apart. War Books is a resource for MWI readers who want to learn more about important subjects related to modern war and are looking for books to add to their reading lists.

This week’s installment comes from Sandor Fabian. A former Hungarian Special Forces officer with twenty years of military experience, his research examines how small states can best defend against the threats posed by larger aggressor states. He is also the author of an important book on the subject, Irregular Warfare: The Future Military Strategy For Small States, which is built around the premise that the best defense strategy for a small state is deterrence and denial through the implementation of an irregular warfare–based national homeland defense strategy. For this edition of War Books, we gave him the following prompt: What books would you recommend for readers to better understand the concept of resistance?

Insurgents, Raiders and Bandits: How Masters of Irregular Warfare Have Shaped Our World, by John Arquilla (2011)

A remarkable account of the history of irregular warfare over the past 250 years, this book provides both a detailed overview of the individual backgrounds of the greatest masters of irregular warfare and an engaging analysis of their campaigns. The book is not only a thoroughly researched historical account, but a rigorous analysis of the most important characteristics of irregular warfare. Arquilla`s book is a must-read for those interested in history and alternative methods of warfighting  and are not afraid of harvesting ideas from the edges of strategic thought.

Britain’s Secret Defences: Civilian Saboteurs, Spies and Assassins during the Second World War, by Andrew Chatterton (2022)

With Britain fearful of an imminent German invasion at the beginning of World War II, a top secret and highly trained “guerrilla” army was born. Saboteurs and guerrilla fighters emerging from secret underground hideouts supported by swaths of spies and observers, this resistance army was designed to fight against potential Nazi occupiers. This book takes the reader on a fascinating journey of discovery about who the members of this army were, how they were selected, organized, and trained, and how they were supposed to conduct what would have in many cases been unavoidably suicidal missions.

Resistance Operating Concept, by Otto C. Fiala (2020)

The book is based on the idea that resistance, as a form of warfare, might be conceptualized as part of a layered, in-depth national defense. It provides a foundational blueprint for the development of a nationally and internationally legitimate resistance capability. After delineating the concept of resilience in a precrisis environment the book develops resistance requirements and planning considerations in the event of an occupation by an adversary. Regardless of its limited case selection of idealized Western examples of resistance this book can serve as a cornerstone publication for policymakers and practitioners involved in the development of national resistance capabilities.

Stalin’s Guerrillas: Soviet Partisans in World War II, by Kenneth Slepyan (2006)

The book provides an analysis of the social and political history of the Soviet partisan movement. Tapping into recently opened Soviet archives, records of wartime radio broadcasts, and Communist Party memoirs, the book recounts the origins, internal struggles, and evolution of this movement throughout the war. The book paints a detailed picture of the complexity of the partisans’ lives and underscores their vital contributions to the defense of their homeland.

How the Weak Win Wars: A Theory of Asymmetric Conflict, by Ivan Arreguín-Toft (2005)

Using both qualitative and quantitative research methods this book analyzes the asymmetric conflicts of the last 150 years. The book arrives at the conclusion that although many variables can affect the final outcomes of such conflicts (for example, the relative power of the actors, their weapons technology, and outside support), it is best determined by the interaction of the strategies of each participant. The author suggests that confronting strategies can be reduced to two distinctive forms: direct and indirect approaches. Direct strategies focus on the destruction of the enemy’s armed forces and, through this, its capacity to continue fighting. The indirect strategy aims for the destruction of the enemy’s will to fight. When weak actors use an indirect strategy against strong actors’ direct strategy their probability of success is significantly higher.

The Insurgent’s Dilemma: A Struggle to Prevail, by David Ucko (2022)

This book examines innovation in insurgent strategy and options for response. Its key argument is that insurgents seeking political change are diversifying their approach away from the steady buildup of military capability and aim instead to exploit the vulnerabilities of the contemporary nation-state. This leads the author to explore three methods of attack: localization within undergoverned areas of the state, infiltration of democratic party systems, and ideational attack on society through online mobilization. These approaches are mapped out using several case studies, historical as well as contemporary. The implication for state response is that military means are becoming less relevant and that other instruments of power must be involved.

Dr. Sandor Fabian is a former Hungarian Special Forces officer with twenty years of military experience, to include heading the Assessment and Evaluation Branch at NATO Special Operations Headquarters. He is a graduate of the Miklos Zrinyi Hungarian National Defense University, holds a master’s degree in defense analysis from the US Naval Postgraduate School, and earned his PhD in security studies from the University of Central Florida. Dr. Fabian is the author of Irregular Warfare: The Future Military Strategy for Small States.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the United States Military Academy, Department of the Army, or Department of Defense.

Image credit: Staff Sgt. Rodney Roldan, US Army