Coup d'etat: A Practical Handbook

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Coup d'État: A Practical Handbook
Author Edward Luttwak
Language English

Coup d'État: A Practical Handbook, first published in 1968, is a history book by Edward Luttwak examining the conditions, strategy, planning, and execution of coups d'état.[1] A revised edition of the book, with references to twenty-first century technology, was published in 2016.[2]

Critical response[edit]

In a 1980 review of the book, Richard Clutterbuck called Coup d'État: A Practical Handbook (1968) one of "only two general contemporary books on the subject" of military coups d'état that are worthwhile in content and readerly interest, the other being Samuel Finer's The Man on Horseback. However, Clutterbuck criticises the book for not further emphasising the role of the news media in determining the likely success of a coup d'état.[3]

References to the book[edit]

The book was reportedly studied by General Mohamed Oufkir, the ringleader of a failed plot to overthrow the Moroccan government, in 1972.[4]

In 2006 Filipino President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo stated the people's mass demonstration to force her to step down was what expert Edward Luttwak said in his Coup d'État: A Practical Handbook.[5][clarification needed]

In 2013, during a period of turmoil in Egypt, Financial Times' Joseph Cotterill posted a chart on how to execute a coup, taken from Luttwak's book. The chart shows the three groups that the revolutionaries need in place, and the targets they need to seize, such as the residences of important personalities, TV stations, and then key traffic locations.[6]

The book suggested the plot for the 1978 movie Power Play in which a group of military officers, angered and frustrated by the corruption and repression of the current government, finally decide that for the good of the country they must overthrow the regime. However, the planned coup's leader, an infantry colonel, finds that in order to get the support he needs he must work with people he neither respects nor trusts, and soon comes to believe that their main opponent, the country's fearsome chief of the secret police, has planted a spy in their midst.


  1. ^ Luttwak, Edward (1979). Coup d'État: A Practical Handbook. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-17547-1. OCLC 5171600. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ Clutterbuck, Richard (January 1980). "Review: Coup d'Etat: A Practical Handbook by Edward N. Luttwak". International Affairs. 56 (1): 125–26. JSTOR 2615740. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ Manila Bulletin, February 27, 2006, ACC-NO: 142555184, Not easy; Opinion & Editorial, Jesus M Elbinias
  6. ^ The Business Insider, July 3, 2013, How To Execute A Coup, In One Chart. Chart found here. Joseph stated Edward Luttwak's coup handbook was "always reliably-bonkers".