Urban Warfare in the Twenty-First Century
Urban Warfare in the Twenty-First Century

Warfare has migrated into cities. From Mosul to Mumbai, Aleppo to Marawi, the major military battles of the twenty-first century have taken place in densely populated urban areas. Why has this happened? What are the defining characteristics of urban warfare today? What are its military and political implications?

Leading sociologist Anthony King answers these critical questions through close analysis of recent urban battles and their historical antecedents. Exploring the changing typography and evolving tactics of the urban battlescape, he shows that although not all methods used in urban warfare are new, operations in cities today have become highly distinctive. Urban warfare has coalesced into gruelling micro-sieges, which extend from street level – and below – to the airspace high above the city, as combatants fight for individual buildings, streets and districts. At the same time, digitalized social media and information networks communicate these battles to global audiences across an urban archipelago, with these spectators often becoming active participants in the fight.

A timely reminder of the costs and the horror of war and violence in cities, this book offers an invaluable interdisciplinary introduction to urban warfare in the new millennium for students of international security, urban studies and military science, as well as military professionals.

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  • September 2021
  • 288 pages
  • 152 x 229 mm / 6 x 9 in
Available Formats
  • Hardback $69.95
  • 9781509543656
  • Paperback $26.95
  • 9781509543663
  • Open eBook $26.95
  • 9781509543670
Table of Contents
Lists of Maps, Figures and Tables


Chapter 1. Gomorrah
Chapter 2 .Numbers
Chapter 3. The Urban Guerrilla
Chapter 4. Metropolis
Chapter 5. Walls
Chapter 6. Air
Chapter 7. Fire
Chapter 8. Swarms
Chapter 9. Partners
Chapter 10. Rumour
Chapter 11. Armageddon

About the Author
Anthony King is Professor of War Studies at the University of Warwick.
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"Most contemporary conflicts turn at some point into fights in and around cities. In this ground-breaking work, Anthony King provides an original conceptual framework with which to explore the combined impact of changes in both the urban environment and military practice."
Sir Lawrence Freedman, King’s College London

"Anthony King is an extraordinarily articulate and clear-sighted thinker on contemporary conflict – and few topics are more pressing than urban warfare. Mixing sociology with anthropology, geography and history, and adding in a good dose of common sense, he brings theory and practice into line. Both those who think about war in cities and those who have to wage it will profit from this book."
Professor Sir Hew Strachan, University of St Andrews

"Anthony King explores new and unique aspects of urban warfare caused by geographical, sociological, doctrinal, and technological changes in the last thirty years. He mines insights from practitioners of recent urban combat in Iraq, Syria, Ukraine, and the Philippines to examine what has remained consistent and what has changed in urban warfare today – and what the future might hold for military forces faced with this difficult challenge. Highly recommended for readers interested in the changing character of war in the 21st century."
Peter R. Mansoor, author of Surge: My Journey with General David Petraeus and the Remaking of the Iraq War

"Anthony King has written an important book that is likely to become the standard text on urban warfare in the twenty-first century. It is comprehensive in scope and offers a sophisticated and multi-layered analysis of how the world’s demographic revolution from a rural to an urban environment is taking the conduct of war into the city. This study will be embraced by military practitioners, scholars, and government policy-makers but also deserves a wide readership among all those concerned with municipal security and the sociology of urban violence."
Michael Evans, Hassett Professor of Military Studies, Australian Defence College, Canberra
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