twitter: @seanmcfate
Sean McFate Sean McFate
Author and Novelist
Fellow, University of Oxford
Senior Fellow, Atlantic Council
Associate Professor, National Defense University
Adjunct Professor, Georgetown University School of Foreign Service
The Modern Mercenary - Private Armies and What They Mean for World Order.

Former U.S. Army paratrooper and private military contractor Sean McFate takes us behind the scenes of this secretive industry, and provides a prognosis for the future of war. WSean McFate — The Modern Mercenary — Oxford University Presshile the U.S. government and U.S. firms currently dominate the market, private military companies are emerging from other countries, and warlords and militias have restyled themselves as private security companies in places like Afghanistan and Somalia. To understand how the proliferation of private forces may influence international relations, McFate looks back to the European Middle Ages, when mercenaries were common and contract warfare the norm. He concludes that international relations in the twenty-first century may have more in common with the twelfth century than the twentieth. This "back to the future" situation, which he calls "neomedievalism," is not, he says, necessarily a negative condition, but it will produce a global system that contains rather than solves problems.

Private warfare has the power to alter world affairs. If money can buy firepower, large corporations and ultra-wealthy individuals might combine to become a new kind of superpower. McFate explains what this world might look like and what should be done about it.

In the Media:

Sean McFate: "The Modern Mercenary"
interview on The Diane Rehm Show

Sean McFate: "Reining in Soldiers of Fortune"
New York Times Op-Ed Contributor

War on the Rocks — "How to Take Over a Small Country in 10 Easy Steps"

Tuesday's Access Utah—"The Modern Mercenary" with Sean McFate

Fox News Video—"Will private armies fight America's next war?"

Inside Charlottesville—"The Modern Mercenary, Author Sean McFate"

RT News—"The Modern Mercenary"

London School of Economics featured alumnae—"Author Sean McFate"

MPR News with Tom Weber on Contractor Injuries—"The treatment
of private military contractors who served abroad. "

Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Future Tense Interview

KPFA "Letters and Politics" Interview Review

War on the Rocks Review

Podcast of a book event

C-Span Book TV

Scholars & Rogues Review

The New Republic

New York Post

Al Jazeera


Minnesota Public Radio

Future Tense, Australian Public Radio


War on the Rocks — "How to Take Over a Small Country in 10 Easy Steps"

Discussion at the UK House of Commons, hosted by the Henry Jackson Society

World Affairs Council

The Seams with Jacki Lyden (about mercenary fashion, towards the end of the show)

The London School of Economics or The London School of Economics

"What You Need to Know about Modern Mercenaries,” War on the Rocks

The Chauncey DeVega Show (starts 30 minutes in)



"Essential reading for anyone who wants to understand a new component of modern warfare. The prevalence of privatized military forces raises serious political, economic, and moral questions. In The Modern Mercenary, Sean McFate applies his years of experience as a US army paratrooper and private military contractor to explore these questions through invaluable case studies and penetrating analysis."
—General Stanley A. McChrystal, co-founder, McChrystal Group

"The Modern Mercenary is an adrenalin-fueled jaunt through today's battlefields, where we find not just the armies of the state, but 'security professionals' whose considerable skills are available for hire. Writing from first-hand experience as a contractor in the field, Sean McFate helps us understand this complex world beyond the cartoon criticisms and film-inspired lore to see both the obvious dangers and the potential benefits provided by a shadowy industry."
—Admiral James Stavridis, USN (Ret), Former Supreme Allied Commander at NATO and Dean, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University

"The Iraq War and Blackwater may seem like yesterday's headlines, but the private military industry is still going strong. In The Modern Mercenary, a book powered by deep research and filled with fascinating details, Sean McFate deftly explores both the historic parallels of today's trade in military services for hire, and its likely future."
—P.W. Singer, author of Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry and Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know

"McFate understands his subject from the inside. His excellent book shows convincingly the urgent need for our governments, and those who work for them, to grasp the consequences of their frequent use of private military companies before they lose control of them."
—General Sir Rupert Smith KCB DSO OBE QGM

"Private Military Companies are now part of the security landscape. Sean McFate's thoughtful study of who they are, what they do and how governments interact with them will benefit all engaged in foreign policy, military activities and humanitarian efforts."
—General Carter F. Ham, U.S. Army, Retired. Former Commander, U.S. Africa Command

"At last we have a serious academic study of the role of military contractors in the execution of modern warfare. The analysis of neo-medievalism and the privatization of conflict is especially thought-provoking--a must read for political leaders who are drawn into having to fight today's wars."
—Sir Richard Dearlove KCMG OBE, Master, Pembroke College and former head of MI6

"McFate's persuasive, unsettling, and nonpolemical account describes the way PMSCs are changing the face of war."
—Publishers Weekly

"A fascinating and disturbing book . . . Mr. McFate writes with an insider's knowledge . . . the worrying trends he describes make this book a powerful call to arms to those who do not want a world awash with mercenaries."
—The Economist

"While making the case that contractors are a here-to-stay force, McFate points out that this has deep implications, both positive and negative, for modern warfare and international relations, and believes it's important to consider both sides."
—The New York Post

"The Modern Mercenary is filled with fascinating stuff, and its bottom line is that there is no stopping the continuing development of the market for force."
—Strategy and Business

"What McFate does best in this book is to add structure and sobriety to the discussion by classifying different types of mercenary services and firms, and to carefully and dispassionately lay out the arguments for and against a 'free market for force.' "
—Scholars and Rogues

"Thought-provoking . . . Some of [McFate's] stories have never been told before, which makes the book particularly valuable."
—Foreign Affairs

"[The Modern Mercenary] is a highly provocative and enriching addition to the literature on the private military industry and stands apart from much contemporary scholarship on the subject . . . McFate does a good job interweaving a rich and easy-to-read historical analysis with his overall thesis, drawing fascinating parallels between our medieval past-complete with mercenaries, military entrepreneurs and privatized warfare-and their post-modern contemporaries in an emerging neo-medieval present."
—International Affairs

"The Modern Mercenary will reward anyone looking for a deeper understanding of market-driven contemporary conflict."
—War on the Rocks

"A thoughtful, interesting read that may turn out to be scarily prescient in the years to come."


@ Sean McFate 2017. All Rights Reserved.