Book Review: American Guerrilla: The Forgotten Heroics of Russell W. Volckmann—the Man Who Escaped from Bataan, Raised a Filipino Army against the Japanese, and became the True “Father” of Army Special Forces


by Mike Guardia

Oxford & Philadelphia: Casemate, 2019. Pp. xiv, 184+. Illus., maps, diagr., gloss., notes, biblio. $16.95 paper. ISBN: 1612007155

The Origins of the Army’s Special Forces

Originally published in hardback in 2010, Guardia’s book on the role of then-Captain Russell W. Volckmann (1911–1982) in building the Filipino-American guerrilla force that opposed the Japanese occupation of the Philippines and then aided in the Liberation of the islands in 1944-1945, is more than just a history of events.

Guardia gives us a lot of material on the how of organizing and sustaining an insurrection, much od which Volckmann had to figure out for himself, with the help of some others, since the Army at the time had little interest in irregular warfare. There is a lot on the surprising amount of bureaucracy necessary to organize, supply, and carry out irregular operations and tips on the dos and don’ts, as well as personality clashes with other officers who’d also formed resistance nodes, some of them with rather ulterior intentions.

Guardia carries Volckmann’s story into the post-war army, where he became one of several officers who pressed the Army to invest in the formation of a permanent special operations force, all of whom are collectively the “Father” of the Special Forces.

American Guerrilla is a good read for anyone interested in the war in the Philippines or unconventional warfare.


Note: American Guerrilla is also available hard cover, audio, and e-editions.


StrategyPage reviews are published in cooperation with The New York Military Affairs Symposium


Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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