Book Review: Networks of rebellion: Explaining insurgent cohesion and collapse by Paul Staniland

Publication Type:

Book Review


Shyam Hari P


Journal of Defence Studies, Volume 10, p.97–101 (2016)



<p>Insurgency and rebellion are often common lexicons appearing in scholarly works on conflict. Perhaps the reason for this could be the possible magnitude of impact of such events on overall humanity. The capability of rebellions to lead to collapse, destabilisation or change in the prevailing regimes has been elaborated innumerable times in the narration of human history, but how far are the dynamics of such phenomena understood. Paul Staniland’s book, Networks of Rebellion: Explaining Insurgent Cohesion and Collapse , is an attempt to bridge the gaps in existing research. The book begins by challenging the very ‘process of understanding’ which exists in studies on conflicts. Staniland argues that after the end of the Cold War, a significant amount of academic attention was riveted on scrutinising the ‘resource and finance’ aspects of wars, which also influenced the analysis on insurgent groups. He argues that such attempts, though effective, are mostly partial due to the improper importance accorded to the social and organisational characteristics of the insurgent groups. Staniland contends that an increasing number of academic contributions have provided prescriptive counsel to the state for handling rebels, thereby creating ‘the problem of causal heterogeneity [that] leads to platitudinous policy’ (p. 229).</p>