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The Mercenary: An Instrument of State Coercion

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review

Original languageEnglish
PublisherOxford Univerity Press; Oxford
Number of pages390
Accepted/In press7 Jun 2022

King's Authors


Ever since the French Revolution and the rise of the rise of national armies, the mercenary has been viewed as a maligned and marginalised actor in international relations. This book challenges this view, suggesting instead that while delegated to the periphery of Great Power politics, he remained a coercive instrument of state power who was willing to discretely promote his client’s foreign policy when called upon to do so. Never has this been more evident than today. The start of the 21st century has seen renewed interest in the mercenary from across the political spectrum. The growing reliance by the US, Russia and China on military and security contractors suggests that the mercenary remains a key player in international politics, now emerging from the shadows to help expand state influence on the world stage by serving as an important actor in the conduct of conflict and the winning of wars. Far from being marginalised, the 21st century mercenary has an increasingly active future ahead of him.

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