Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam
John A. Nagl, Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2005, 249 pp. $17.95.
Reviewed by Lieutenant Colonel Frank G. Hoffman, U.S. Marine Corps
In their noted study on military innovation, Military Misfortunes: The Anatomy of Failure in War, professors Eliot Cohen and John Gooch define a taxonomy to analyze military disasters. They note that significant failures, whether a Pearl Harbor, the fall of France in 1940, or a 9/11, are never the fault of a single individual but rather a failure of organizations to properly anticipate, learn, and adapt. "Where learning failures have their roots in the past," Cohen and Gooch stress, "and anticipatory failures look to the future, adaptive failures suggest an inability to handle the changing present."