Book Review: Bullets and Bolos

Bullets and Bolos:  Fifteen Years in the Philippine Islands Fighting Insurgents with the Philippine Constabulary.  John R. White.  St. Petersburg, FL:  Hailer Publishing, 2007 (originally published New York: Century Company, 1928), 348 pages, $29.99.

 Bullets and Bolos is the story of one American’s experience during fifteen years (1901-1916) as an officer of the Philippine Constabulary.  John White’s narrative is a fast paced, interesting and insightful read about how a former American soldier adapts to the challenge of leading foreign indigenous troops in combat.  It almost reads like a novel, but is full of intelligent insights and wisdom regarding an important and complex aspect of counterinsurgency.

 John White’s story begins when he joins the Philippine Constabulary after his service with the U.S. volunteers  during the Spanish American War.  As that war evolves into the Philippine Insurrection, the army mustered the volunteers out.  White elected to muster out in the Philippines and seek service with the growing U.S. civil service.  He first worked as a civilian clerk for the army commissary, but then enlisted as an inspector in the new Philippine indigenous police force –the constabulary.  White describes the highlights of his next fifteen years service commanding Filipino constables as they track and fight insurgents, bandits, and Muslim warriors through swamps, jungle, mountains, and even at sea.  White quickly proved himself to be an exceptionally effective leader, and a string of promotions and more challenging assignments took him to the rank of constabulary colonel and district supervisor.

Read Complete Review Here.

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. During those years John White may have crossed paths with my grandfather who served with the Philippine Scouts. His book may have inspired grandpa during the latter years – World War II – when he became a guerrilla propaganda officer who published a monthly tirade against the Japanese titled “Bolos and Bullets”.

  2. During those years John White may have crossed paths with my grandfather who served with the Philippine Scouts. His book may have inspired grandpa during the latter years – World War II – when he became a guerrilla propaganda officer who published a monthly tirade against the Japanese titled “Bolos and Bullets”.

  3. If you are interested, I wrote John Roberts White’s biography, but focused on his time as the superintendent of Sequoia National Park from 1920 to 1948, where he again showed exemplary leadership, as he saved the park from Yosemite-like overdevelopment.

    Rick Hydrick


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