Coup d'État: A Practical Handbook

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Coup d'État: A Practical Handbook
Author Edward Luttwak
Country United States
Language English
Publisher Harvard University Press
Publication date

Coup d'État: A Practical Handbook (1968) is a history book by Edward Luttwak examining the conditions, strategy, planning, and execution of coups d'état.[1]

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.[2]

References to the book[edit]

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".[3]

In 2013 during the turmoil in Egypt Financial Times' Joseph Cotterill posted a chart on how to execute a coup. The chart shows the three groups that the revolutionaries need in place, and the targets they need to penetrate: the residence, TV stations, then domination of key traffic locations.[4]

The book played a critical role in the fictional series Illuminatus! by Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea regarding a coup in Fernando Poo (now Equatorial Guinea), which was the outward trigger for a global crisis in the book.

It also served as the inspiration for a National Film Board of Canada movie, Power Play, which is set in an unnamed Western country and deals with the planning and execution of a coup d'état.


  1. ^ Luttwak, Edward (1979). Coup d'État: A Practical Handbook. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-17547-1. OCLC 5171600. 
  2. ^ Clutterbuck, Richard (January 1980). "Review: Coup d'Etat: A Practical Handbook by Edward N. Luttwak". International Affairs 56 (1): 125–26. JSTOR 2615740. 
  3. ^ Manila Bulletin, February 27, 2006, ACC-NO: 142555184, Not easy; Opinion & Editorial, Jesus M Elbinias
  4. ^ 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".