David Galula: His Life and Intellectual Context

  • August 01, 2010
  • Ms Ann Marlowe

This monograph is based on interviews with David Galula’s surviving family and friends as well as archival research. It places Galula’s two great books in the context of his exposure to Mao’s doctrine of revolutionary warfare in China, the French Army’s keen interest in counterinsurgency in the second half of the 1950s, and the transmission of French doctrine to the U.S. military in the early 1960s. It also discusses home-grown American counterinsurgency pioneers like General Edward Lansdale, who promoted Galula’s American career and encouraged him to write a book. It details the counterinsurgency fever of President John F. Kennedy’s administration, a nearly forgotten episode. Galula died in relative obscurity at the age of 49 in 1967. He had the odd historical luck of not having been a part of the counterinsurgency fever of his day, but of ours instead. Both those who think counterinsurgency has been embraced uncritically and those who think it has not been followed enough will find intellectual ammunition in Galula--and food for thought in the relationship of his ideas to his time.