Small Wars Journal

Book Review - "Commander of the Faithful: The Life and Times of Emir Abd el-Kader"

Book Review - "Commander of the Faithful: The Life and Times of Emir Abd el-Kader" by Jim Gant - Marine Corps Gazette

It took many years of fighting, reading, thinking, and writing to inculcate in me that warfare is not primarily physical; it is not about places—it is about people. Warfare is political, psychological, and spiritual. Few books capture this maxim as powerfully as Commander of the Faithful: The Life and Times of Emir Abd el-Kader by John W. Kiser. Commander of the Faithful describes in fascinating detail the life and times of Abd el-Kader, one of the least known and yet influential Muslim leaders of the 19th century. Abd el-Kader was a Muslim scholar and guerrilla commander who led a war against the French occupation of Algiers. After battling the French for 17 years, Abd el-Kader ultimately surrendered under honorable conditions and was forced into exile by the French government. His life is a shining example of humanity in action. This book is an important read for anyone concerned with the future of warfare and foreign policy. The United States is trying to win wars and keep peace. This cannot be done with more intelligence and firepower. It can only be done with more intelligent firepower, which includes an understanding of the importance of culture and religion. As we seek to build capacity in our foreign allies, we must first build strong and meaningful relationships. Commander of the Faithful will give readers a powerful mental model for how to navigate the “human domain.”...

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