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.
"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 is Professor of War Studies at the University of Warwick.