Guerrilla Warfare (book)

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For the 1937 book by Mao Zedong, see On Guerrilla Warfare.
Guerrilla Warfare
Guerrilla Warfare, published by Ocean Books (2006)
Author Che Guevara
Publication date

Guerrilla Warfare (Spanish: La Guerra de Guerrillas) is a book by Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara that was written right after the Cuban Revolution and published in 1961. It soon became the guidebook for thousands of guerrilla fighters in various countries around the world.[1]


Guerrilla Warfare is a manual for left-wing insurgency that draws on Guevara's experience as a participant in the Cuban revolution. It elaborates the foco theory (foquismo), for which the guerrilla operates as a vanguard even before the development of the "objective" conditions for popular uprising.

While many draw parallels with Mao Zedong's On Guerrilla Warfare, Guevara claimed he had not read Mao's book. Instead it draws on the lessons of fighting during the Cuban Revolutionary War, which in turn were informed by two books from the Spanish Civil War, Nuevas guerras and Medicina contra invasión, stressing the need for an underpinning political motivation to guerrilla methods, organisation and supply.

Guevara states that the "three fundamental lessons" of the Cuban revolutions are:

"1) Popular forces can win a war against the army. 2) It is not necessary to wait until all conditions for making revolution exist; the insurrection can create them. 3) In underdeveloped America the countryside is the basic area for armed fighting."[2]

Much of the manual is devoted to matters of a practical nature, such as the type of armaments best suited to guerrilla forces, and the optimum size of a given guerrilla band.

Guevara emphasizes that guerrilla warfare is a favorable method only against totalitarian regimes, (such as the revolutionary war against the Batista dictatorship in Cuba), where political opposition and legal civil struggle is impossible to conduct. South African revolutionaries read the work in the early 1960s; former Minister of Intelligence, Ronnie Kasrils, notes that the Apartheid regime's police questioned his late wife about an order of "Che Guevara's book on guerrilla warfare."[3]

Guevara dedicated the book to his recently deceased comrade Camilo Cienfuegos, "who should have read and corrected it, but whose fate prevented him from carrying out the task."

While the book was intended for other revolutionary movements in Latin America, Africa and Asia, it was also studied by counter-revolutionary military schools.[4]

See also[edit]

  • "Yank" Levy, author of the original book titled Guerilla Warfare


  1. ^ Ernesto "Che" Guevara (World Leaders Past & Present), by Douglas Kellner, 1989, Chelsea House Publishers, ISBN 1-55546-835-7, pg 81
  2. ^ Guerrilla Warfare, p. 7.
  3. ^ Kasrils, Ronnie. The Unlikely Secret Agent. New York: Monthly Review Press, 2010. ISBN 978-1583672778. p. 9
  4. ^ Szulc (1986), p.380


External links[edit]