Manual On War

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That revelation is known today as Doctrine and Covenants President Jackson had predicted that armed conflict would result if South Carolina continued to insist on its own sovereignty. Doctrine and Covenants 87 only heightened expectations that the Second Coming was not far away. Conflict involved more than just warring nations. The reference to slaves inserted Doctrine and Covenants 87 directly into the conflict over federal power. In the run-up to the crisis, South Carolinians had argued that the federal tariffs were intentionally designed to subvert the slave-labor farming economy that dominated the American South.

States that stood to benefit from the tariffs, including Ohio, had all made slavery illegal. To the great surprise of all, the nullification crisis ended almost before it began. In February , President Jackson orchestrated a lowered, compromise tariff, asserting the rights of the federal government while satisfying the demands of states-rights secessionists.

Crisis was averted, peace had returned to the land, and President Jackson basked in what may have been his greatest triumph as president. The peaceful resolution of the crisis pleased everyone but the most ardent firebrands. As a follower of Christ, Joseph Smith loved peace and welcomed compromise, and he looked forward to the return of the Prince of Peace and His peaceful millennial reign.

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But the dire predictions contained in the prophecy on war, tied as they were to contemporary events, must have puzzled Joseph. The death and misery of many souls did not occur. The Southern states continued to be divided against the North over the question of slavery, but the slaves did not rise up against their masters, and South Carolina did not call on Great Britain for help.

Joseph Smith seemed reluctant to spread news of his prophecy on war too widely. He did not mention South Carolina in his later teachings and sermons. When he compiled his revelations for publication in , Joseph withheld Doctrine and Covenants 87 from the collection. After the nullification crisis ended peacefully, it seemed best to set the revelation aside during his lifetime. Joseph was sure of his prior revelations. He had felt the voice of God speak through him before and had seen those words come to pass.

He must have wondered if this revelation was a case of false prophecy. Or, if the prophecy was true, what would God have Joseph do now that peace, even if temporary, had been achieved? He did not hide in a bunker or otherwise drop out from public view, waiting for the end. Whitney storehouse in Kirtland. Those who kept the Word of Wisdom, Joseph taught, would run and not be weary and walk and not faint. Joseph never shied away from warning the world of the cataclysms to come. Now, what are the down sides to this book? It is not easy to read, that fact probably couldn't be avoided due to its broadness.

For most readers, it's going to be a tough read. To be honest, it wasn't that difficult at all, now when I think of it, I just needed a lot of time to read it. If you're not interested in the subject or you're not willing to put in some time and maybe effort into reading this one, skip it Oct 05, Jon rated it really liked it Shelves: part-read , book-club. Ranked one of the great contributions in the literature of war, Clausewitz's book, "On War", presents a wide-ranging and very intellectual discussion of the subject of war.

There is room for debate about precisely what the book is about. But Clausewitz is emphatic about what it is not: it is not a book on doctrine; it does not presume to give definitive tactical lessons; it does not pretend to give a formula on strategy-making. These are not Clausewitz's purpose. Rather it is theory that he say Ranked one of the great contributions in the literature of war, Clausewitz's book, "On War", presents a wide-ranging and very intellectual discussion of the subject of war. Rather it is theory that he says he is after. To use a formulation of Clausewitz: war is his subject, but theory is his object.

This in a breath is the spirit of his book. There is a lot to say about "On War". Some in praise, some in criticism, but all interesting.


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Because the space of this entry need not wander on needlessly in length or purpose, the discussion here must be abridged. Therefore I will confine myself to mention of three main themes.

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First is Clausewitz's discussion of politics and warfare. Second is his use of historical figures, particularly Napoleon and Frederick II. And third, the self conscious aspect of Clausewitz's theory.

The role of politics looms large in Clausewitz's theory of war. It is no coincidence Clausewitz and his book are known by the slogan "that war is nothing but the continuation of policy by other means. But Clausewitz is deliberate about identifying other influences on war. He proposes military genius, friction, and other intangible, psychic factors. Still for Clausewitz it is clear that politics has an influence on war that is predominant.

Clausewitz goes out of his way in the preface to give the influence of politics specific highlight. That mention is followed right after by his dramatic first chapter, which exclusively discusses the importance of politics in war, and supplies its proof with an elaborate dialectical argument contrasting real and absolute war.

This order of presentation should not be dismissed. The positioning of politics at a location foremost in the arrangement in his book has a special significance. By his own theory of war, Clausewitz advocates identifying the point of decision, and directing the main energy of the force against it. The same is apparent in his attention to argument. For Clausewitz, the influence of politics is the decisive point in his theory. Therefore he supplies it with his own main effort. The influence of moral qualities, military genius, danger, are important, but for Clausewitz they are really secondary actions.

It is for this reason book 1 chapter 1 reads entirely different from every other chapter of the book. It has been combed and carefully organized in a way unmatched by any other chapter—this Clausewitz admits himself. It is also for this reason that he devotes all of book 8 to exploring the consequences of politics in his theory of war. If politics represents the major insight of the book, his use of historical personages, particularly Napoleon and Frederick, is an important second.

Clausewitz does not make it an explicit point of his theory. Nevertheless the same opinions appear too often and too consistently to be dismissed as trivia meant for illustration. For Clausewitz, Napoleon and Frederick represent something more than relevant examples. Far more. The two famous generals typify exactly the qualities of failure and success in warfare that his theory means to explain. Put more dramatically: they are the very inspiration for the theory itself.

Napoleon is given as example of the archetypal general who is seemingly the great military genius, but in fact is not. Though he may possess characteristics that bring great success in battle, despite his brilliance, his politics and his war strategy are not in harmony. Therefore, for all Napoleon's apparent success, as a true strategist and statesmen he must be judged a failure. On the other hand, conventional opinion has it that Frederick should not enjoy equal rank with Napoleon, Alexander, Caesar, or other military royalty, though he be regarded as great general nonetheless.

But by Clausewitz's reckoning, Frederick is truly the superior of Napoleon; for though he did not conquer near all of Europe in the manner of Napoleon, he achieved a harmony between his politics and his war strategy that Napoleon never did. Judged in this way, though he fought for bare existence in the Seven Years War, Frederick can claim a legacy greater than that of Napoleon. This anyway is one of the important sub narratives in Clausewitz's book.

On most occasions Clausewitz prefers to question Napoleon's command, asking whether he truly deserved credit for his victories. While in the case of Frederick there is absolutely no instance where Clausewitz does not cover him with flatteries. The difference in treatment is extreme. So different in fact, one could speculate darkly whether Napoleon and Frederick are meant to serve theory, or whether the theory is meant to serve the men. Though it would be unfair to dismiss Clausewitz with such cynical speculation; there is an important strain of historical revisionism in "On War", which if true, degrades the theory as a disguise for rationalizing Prussian superiority.

There is one other feature of "On War" that stands out among others. Nevertheless, in many ways it is so pervasive in Clausewitz's writing, it is hard to perceive. This is the unusual manner Clausewitz uses to develop his study of war. His method and style are quite unorthodox. As a goal for his book, Clausewitz intends to make theory. But this is an end quite different then most other treatises on the subject.

The tradition in military writing is to offer prescriptions, provide formulas, outline doctrine, and in general prepare lessons that have application for war. But for Clausewitz the project is far more intellectual. He says that he wants to give a theory of war. One that is holistic, that identifies key concepts, refines them with precision, illuminates war's principles, and give an order and coherence to the theory of war in the abstract.

This is a project completely different in kind. And one gets the sense Clausewitz fancies himself a sort of heretic, and has his ambition set to provide a rethink of the way war is conceived. If so, it would explain his extended treatment of the weaknesses of earlier theories of war. He ridicules those that relied on numeric equations or depended solely on the geometry of the battlefield to provide a guide to war. These theories may have fulfilled a heuristic purpose he says, but so far as theory is judged they were inadequate.

This interpretation of Clausewitz would also explain his censure of other academic styles for the study of war. Those writers that descend into petty technicalities, put their knowledge on parade, prefer to catalogue examples rather than give a single thorough description, or otherwise recall ancient history to beguile the reader with romantic accounts—all these Clausewitz says corrupt the analysis rather than advance it. In its place, Clausewitz proposes a style of deliberation all his own. Because war is not quite science, nor is it quite art, special accommodation is required. War may be a phenomenon unlike any other, nevertheless it is not beyond the power of theory.

By this point Clausewitz has wandered far into the philosophical. It gives the entire book an intellectual, sage-like quality; though it also tends to obscure his meaning. It is in this context that Clausewitz proceeds to develop his theory of war.

Jan 26, Am rated it it was amazing. With the understanding of certain tactical level chapters being outdated, it is still a phenomenal read for strategic and operational theorizing, but must be consumed slowly, deliberately, and with much contemplation.

Superficial hypocracy and seeming contradictions are eliminated with careful evaluation, intellectually Clausewitz reduces issues to their theoretical, most simplistic forms, and then walks them back with elaboration of the real world complications that prevent and contrive a perfe With the understanding of certain tactical level chapters being outdated, it is still a phenomenal read for strategic and operational theorizing, but must be consumed slowly, deliberately, and with much contemplation.

Superficial hypocracy and seeming contradictions are eliminated with careful evaluation, intellectually Clausewitz reduces issues to their theoretical, most simplistic forms, and then walks them back with elaboration of the real world complications that prevent and contrive a perfect solution. I have no doubt I'll return to many books and chapters in On War, and will likely continue to derive new insight and understanding with each read.

Jul 22, Alan rated it it was amazing. As a sometime student of History and War Studies I read this book a long long time ago in a galaxy far far away I have the abridged Wordsworth Classics edition, abridged because the original consists of eight books in three volumes, and of course was written in German, so it's not a light read.

On War is certainly one of the great books of military history. It is probably also one of the most dangerous, because his theories can, and have been, taken out of context and misused as justification f As a sometime student of History and War Studies I read this book a long long time ago in a galaxy far far away It is probably also one of the most dangerous, because his theories can, and have been, taken out of context and misused as justification for a range of sins in politics and warfare.

My particular interest in On War at the moment is to refresh my memory of my original reading. I like Clausewitz's very logical and philosophical approach to the subject, coloured by his acerbic comments about other unidentified theorists he annoyed a fair few other writers. It's an interesting blend of the supremely logical and the romantic, bearing in mind that he was a contemporary of Byron. On War is both a manual for the practitioner of war, for politicians and generals, and a closely argued thesis about the nature of war.

It has a similar place to Machiavelli's The Prince, but was written for a 19th century audience and concentrates on the relationship between war and politics. This review is on the abridged Reclam edition of the text. It is hard to classify what type of book this is. What it is certainly not, is a textbook on military tactics. In its different parts, it contains a meta-analysis of war, aimed at dispelling many of the theoretical beliefs on war at the time, a psychological and sociological analysis of the countries in war, the military and its leaders, and it also contains a good deal of advice on large-scale military strategy.

In all this, the text most This review is on the abridged Reclam edition of the text. In all this, the text mostly remains on the surface, which might make it a too superficial to be useful in our time, apart from being a historical document. In a way superficiality is deliberate, as von Clausewitz himself keeps repeating that an overly detailed and deterministic military theory is bound to fail when confronted with the reality of war.

Jul 11, Jeff Whistler rated it really liked it. I see why this treatise is so famous. Clausewitz's erudition verges on genius often. Beside famous aphorisms like "fog of war" or "policy by other means", "war is not science, nor art, but a social interaction" struck me as profound. Editing is the only real issue as he died on campaign before finishing the book and his wife published it as is.

Now I go to sleep and dream of War, but of course War dreams of itself. Oct 20, Ryan rated it it was amazing. Mar 03, Walter rated it it was amazing Shelves: military-theory. While Clausewitz is quoted and discussed by military men repeatedly, it fascinates me how many military officers serve long and distinguished careers without ever having read this book. In many ways this is understandable. Clausewitz is very philosophical and abstract, to the point that many of his ideas are simply not applicable to everyday military planning.

One must also remember tha "On War" is one of those books that was at the same time amazingly influential and almost never actually read. One must also remember that, despite the frequency with which he is cited, Clausewitz was a radical and very much opposed to the thinking of military men in his own day, and certainly in ours. While Clausewitz wrote in the first half of the 19th Century, his thought never really came to be accepted in the armies of France, Britain or the United States until well into the 20th century.

Why was that? For one thing, Clausewitz bucked tradition by refusing to write about historical examples from antiquity. While most military authors waxed eloquently about the battles of Cannae, Thermopylae and Agincourt, Clausewitz felt, correctly I believe, that it is useless to take military lessons from battles so long ago because the tactics and technology of those days were very different from our own.

For another thing, Clausewitz wrote far more at length about the defense, praising the defense as an excellent way to buy time and attrit the enemy before wearing him down enough to take the initiative in the attack. In most militaries of the 19th Century such thinking was heresy. The attack was the decisive form of battle, and it took on the aspect of almost a religion among military planners.

These thinkers would scoff at the tendency of Clausewitz to praise the defense and discuss it at such great length. Finally, Clausewitz discussed the goal of a military campaign, not to take the enemy's capital, some key fortification or some key terrain feature, but rather to attack the enemy's "Center of Gravity". This concept applied to whatever it was that drove the enemy's military strength. In most cases this would be his forces, but perhaps it could be his ideology or perhaps even his leaders. Again, such thinking was scoffed by military thinkers who were sure that their objective must be some fixed location on the map.

It was only in the wars of the 20th Century that we have learned how even an insignificant place like Stalingrad or Omaha Beach could be so decisive in war. This particular edition of "On War" is undoubtedly the best one out there. The introduction gives the reader a great background on Clausewitz and the world in which he lived. Since most of us are relatively unfamiliar with the wars of Fredrick the Great, or the wars of the French Revolution and Napolean, this insight is invaluable.

Reading this really made me want to understand better the Napoleanic era about which Clausewitz writes. Another thing that fascinated me about this book is how similar Clausewitz's view of war was to the view of Adam Smith concerning the economy. Whereas Smith spelled out the key components of the economy as land, labor, capital, transportation and entrepreneurial ability, Clausewitz discusses the five great elements of military success as the terrain, the troops, the weapons, maneuver and generalship.

It would be fascinating to compare and contrast these similarities, especially since military theory has in recent years become so much in vogue among Corporate executives. Overall I would highly recommend this book to everyone who is interested in military theory. It is an indispensable read for military leaders. And this edition is particularly valuable for both. This is one of those classics that I've read sections of, read discussions of, read debates about, but hadn't actually read from cover to cover.

Until this year. First, a couple of notes about this edition. Goodreads has at this writing the wrong total page count for the book. My copy, at least, has pages. Also, a fascinating element of having the Graham translation with his footnotes as edited by Maude with his footnotes is that you get glimpses of how this was taken in the late s This is one of those classics that I've read sections of, read discussions of, read debates about, but hadn't actually read from cover to cover. Also, a fascinating element of having the Graham translation with his footnotes as edited by Maude with his footnotes is that you get glimpses of how this was taken in the late s and then again in the first decade of the s.

They've seen the Civil War, the Franco-Prussian War, the Boer War and some other odds and ends, and the interpretations are interesting. I found myself making notes on the notes. Two very annoying things about this edition: First, whoever digitized and edited the text universally changed phrases like "any time" and "some day" and "any way" and "some time" into anytime, someday, anyway and sometime.

Second, in the last appendix, the "Guide to Tactics", the paragraphs are lettered and numbered in outline mode; but there are references to some numbered list which is not in the text and not explained. We're to refer to , but there is no So, why was this book written, and what the heck is it, anyway? Well, it's an attempt to produce a philosophical-science definition of War, along the lines of Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit, say, or Spinoza's Ethics. There was no such modern book, in Clausewitz's day.

In addition, he wants to counter the disinformation he feels has been spread by the kind of memoirs that folks like Jomini had written, full of aphorisms, but with very little specific detail about how to fight a war. I note that Clausewitz constantly refers to the battles of Frederick the Great, but seems never to refer to his military writings, which included specific manuals.

There was a belief, in his time and influenced by Napoleon's campaigns that the attack was the stronger mode of fighting. Clausewitz understood that the defense wins, but also that the defense must turn to counterattack to do anything permanent, most of the time. There were also some very odd ideas that had been turned into idiotic doctrines like it was important to seize the highest ground around like the Alps , whether or not they could be fought upon and he was eager to shoot them all down.

So he's defining and arguing all the way through the book. Most of the time it's very, very dry. He's trying to define things once and for all, but in long complex sentences. For example: Now we have yet to consider one condition which is more necessary for the knowledge of the conduct of war than for any other, which is, that it must pass completely into the mind and almost completely cease to be something objective. In almost all other arts and occupations of life the active agent can make use of truths which he has only learnt once, and in the spirit and sense of which he no longer lives, and which he extracts from dusty books.

Even truths which he has in hand and uses daily may continue something external to himself. If the architect takes up a pen to settle the strength of a pier by a complicated calculation, the truth found as a result is no emanation from his own mind. He had first to find the data with labour, and then to submit these to an operation of the mind, the rule for which he did not discover, the necessity of which he is perhaps at the moment only partly conscious of, but which he applies, for the most part, as if by mechanical dexterity.

But it is never so in war. The moral reaction, the ever-changeful form of things, makes it necessary for the chief actor to carry in himself the whole mental apparatus of his knowledge, that anywhere and at every pulse-beat he may be capable of giving the requisite decision from himself. Knowledge must, by this complete assimilation with his own mind and life, be converted into real power. This is the reason why everything seems so easy with men distinguished in war, and why everything is ascribed to natural talent. We say natural talent, in order thereby to distinguish it from that which is formed and matured by observation and study.

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Now I know what that means, but really?? Much more rarely does he lose the cool, scientific demeanor and get down to brass tacks. Here he is laying out a detail regarding any future planned invasion of France: Switzerland must be left to its own forces. If it remains neutral it forms a good point d'appui on the Upper Rhine; if it is attacked by France, let her stand up for herself, which in more than one respect she is very well able to do. Nothing is more absurd than to attribute to Switzerland a predominant geographical influence upon events in war because it is the highest land in Europe.

Such an influence only exists under certain very restricted conditions, which are not to be found here. When the French are attacked in the heart of their country they can undertake no offensive from Switzerland, either against Italy or Swabia, and, least of all, can the elevated situation of the country come into consideration as a decisive circumstance. The advantage of a country which is dominating in a strategic sense, is, in the first place, chiefly important in the defensive, and any importance which it has in the offensive may manifest itself in a single encounter.

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Whoever does not know this has not thought over the thing and arrived at a clear perception of it, and in case that at any future council of potentates and generals, some learned officer of the general staff should be found, who, with an anxious brow, displays such wisdom, we now declare it beforehand to be mere folly, and wish that in the same council some true Blade, some child of sound common-sense may be present who will stop his mouth.

But will the modern reader learn a great deal from reading this book?? Um, no, not really. It's interesting as a historical document, as a step in military history. You can see which sections had been paid attention to by those American Civil War generals who had bothered to read him, or anything. You can see how poorly developed military theory was before the Prussian General Staff system which Clausewitz helped create took hold. But you won't learn much about War itself. I also decided, while reading this, that most of the debates on it that I've read have been overwrought. They have torn into this like it was intended to be Holy Writ, and the truth is it wasn't finished.

So we're looking at a variety of partial drafts, and it shows. Also, he was rather clear on his own limitations. He insisted that warfare was part of public policy, and it is. He noted that sometimes war takes on a life of its own, which it does, but that this need not be the case. He observed that pure war, total war, was the essence of war, but also rather rare. These are all valid, but I've read debates that tried to pin him to a precise percentage view; and it's just not there in the text.

Mostly he feels that war is complicated, and never just one thing. The element I found most interesting, is that this guy fought in both the Wars of the Revolution and the subsequent Napoleonic Wars, and he is quite clear that both were essentially a new kind of warfare.

He wonders whether most wars after this will be like the Napoleonic campaigns, or whether they'll revert to the older styles. He suggests it'll be both, and one should be prepared for either. One last observation on the text. I was struck by the almost complete absence of any reference to the Classics.

Both the wars and the writings of the Romans and Greeks are omitted. So, a "classic" that's of historical interest only. View 1 comment. Jan 19, JS Found rated it really liked it. Okay, so this is a long book--over pages--and some of it is a slog--like a battle that has gone on too long, with the reader's army expending a lot of energy and time to finish. But, it can be useful.

The book I mean. Even as we don't fight wars in our everyday lives, we can use this book to solve problems and conflicts. I haven't put its advice and strategies into action yet. But, here's hoping. Among much advice, Clausewitz says war is politics by other means. He urges it to be deci Okay, so this is a long book--over pages--and some of it is a slog--like a battle that has gone on too long, with the reader's army expending a lot of energy and time to finish.

He urges it to be decisive; you have to go all in, but, when it's being lost, you have to pull out and accept defeat, which, America hasn't really accepted in the past few decades. No matter, though this is a political book if there ever was one. The Reading Guide at the end applies what Clausewitz wrote to the 20 century American wars. Shame it was written before the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. What Clausewitz says: war is politics by other means; generals and commanders have to have "genius"; war is an art; theory if of use but cannot take the place of learning by experience and action; theory is useless when it comes down to actual fighting; mountains and rivers are not good theatres of operation; defense, defense, defense, is the most powerful way to win a war.

The meat of the book, aptly, like the fresh troops held in the back, ready to engage to win the battle, is towards the end when he talks about defending and attacking. The prose can get repetitive, but overall it is clear and precise and Clausewitz has seemingly broken every aspect of war down so that it gets a chapter.

Not hard to read, but, again, a slog. He spent thirty years thinking about war and this is the result. So you can't blame him. With an affecting introduction by his widow--the book on war starts off with love. Nov 19, Bradley Hood rated it it was amazing Shelves: read-nonfiction , favorites. On War is often considered tedious, long, and difficult to read. Those who promote this argument certainly have some valid points, and their concerns were echoed by Clausewitz's contemporaries, which led to Antoine Henri Jomini achieving far more prominence in military circles before However, despite Jomini's continued influence in the concept of "scientific principles of war", Clausewitz's On War has proved instrumental in shaping the foundations of today's military theory and thought.

An On War is often considered tedious, long, and difficult to read. Any student of military history or science, or politics, should at least read Book 1 Chapter 1 of On War. A basic understanding of Clausewitz will lead to a much enhanced understanding of both politics and war, especially in regards to historical periods after his death and the publication of this book. My advice for anyone approaching Clausewitz with one or all of many preconceptions about what he meant to say or how his influence affected military theory today: Keep in mind that Clausewitz sought only to develop a way of thinking about war.

Unlike Jomini, Clausewitz often demonstrates how war is full of exceptions, and rejects Jomini's reductionist and prescriptionist approach. Even if you disagree with Clausewitz's ideas, if you thought about the nature of war and how it intersects with politics, Clausewitz has achieved his goal in writing his book. This edition of On War is the classic text, and I have used it in graduate school. I highly recommend both Clausewitz and this edition of his On War.

Jan 13, Antonio Jr. There are scores of books throughout history that have stood the test of time and remain relevant even today. To Clausewitz's credit, "On War" is one of them. Unfortunately, while Clausewitz's observations may be timeless, his writing style and voice are horribly out of date.