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On War (World Classics)
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am 15. Mai 2000
This is not an easy book to understand. It takes sustained attention, several readings of the most important parts, guidance from supplementary articles, time and interest. After the required investment, the diligent reader will come to understand Clausewitz's system and the remarkable way that it stills aides in understanding the phenomenon of war. Readers who know of what I speak will agree that the results of the recent NATO war against Serbia over Kosova can be explained very accurately in Clausewitzian terms. Much has been made of the fact that Clausewitz died before he could complete the work. We will never know what added insights the Prussian philosopher may have been able to come up with or the additional nuances that he may have added to the framework that he had established. While true, this attitude detracts from what he was able to accomplish. The only finished portion of the book, Part 1 of Book 1 is also the most important. The rest of Book 1, Book 2, Book 3 and Book 8 (the last) are in Bernard Brodie's words, "pure gold". The other books have relevant information for our times too, but one must shift through much which belongs to the past. Clausewitz's theory of war considered war to be "a remarkable trinity" of rational action (policy), irrational action (passion) and the play of chance (friction versus genius). These three points act as poles above which "theory" itself is suspended like a magnet. Alan D. Beyerchen has pointed out that Clausewitz was talking about a non-linear system in that the course the magnet will take as it hovers above and in and out of the three fields of attraction produces an irreproducible trajectory highly sensitive to the initial conditions which set it in motion. In addition we have other important concepts such as the duel nature of war, the importance and uses of theory, friction, war's psychological element, tactical and strategic centers of gravity, and of course the primacy of policy over purely military concerns in strategic planning. All of these are still of interest today. Not bad for a work that was published initially in 1832!
One additional note. I recommend the Everyman's Library Edition of On War. First it is the Michael Howard / Peter Paret translation which is the best in English. Second it contains four interesting and enlightening articles by Howard, Paret and Bernard Brodie and last it is a hard cover book printed and bound in Germany and of excellent quality.
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am 6. November 1999
Adorned with many historical examples, this book is certainly history's greatest masterpiece. Continuously emphasizing that war is 'a continuity of policy by other means', Clausewitz, in his 20 years' work, has defined perfectly the theory of war, its tactical and strategic purposes;the means of attack and defense,before firstly defining clearly what war really is, how it works,and how its nature works in practice, and delightfully summarizing all the means of war in the book of 'War Plans'. This book explains what had been a cloud of uncertainty for people before his age, and closely examines the strategies of history's greatest generals, that is, Frederick the Great and Napoleon I(whom he said to be the God of War)during the Seven Years' War and down to the battle of the first until sixth coalition, and finally owing much spaces to the battle of Jena (1806),the wars of liberation (1814-15), and the disastrous marches to Moscow (1812).This book is certainly presented to military officers and anybody interested in the course of war. Moreover, you need not worry about your age or nationality. This book declares about strategy in general; and gives delight even to an Indonesian 11-year old girl like me. If you're truly interested in the course and history of war, I bet that this book will give you *BEAUCOUP DE MOMENTS INTERESSANTS*. NE ME CROIS PAS? ALORS,TU PEUX LE LIS ET LE PREUVE!
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am 12. Mai 2000
Although this clearly is a brilliant attempt to conceptualize the theoretical background of war, this is not an easy reading, and I would discourage anyone who is not particularly interested in the works of Von Cleusewitz from reading 'On War'. However, when put in the context of the time that Clauswitz was working on this colossal piece of strategic thought - the first part of the 19th century, we can only marvel at Clausewitz's military genius. Almost two hundred years ago he managed to lay out the base of the modern military strategy with concepts such as Die Schlacht- the credible threat of total destruction which today relates to the nuclear weapons, concentrated and mobile maneuver strategy - essentially WWII's Blietzkrieg etc. However, these brilliant parts get lost in the chapters that are completely irrelevant to today's state of technology. Furthermore, only the first chapter was finished by Clausewitz, all the rest was on the level of first drafts only when a decease took Clausewtiz's life. I would recommend going to the glossary of On War and familiarizing yourself with the topics discussed in a certain chapter before reading it - might save you a lot of time and effort.
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am 27. Juni 2000
This is not an easy book to read nor understand. It takes several readings. A large investment in time will allow the reader to understand Clausewitz's system and the remarkable way that it stills aides in understanding the phenomenon of war. The text is adorned with many historical examples. Continuously emphasizing that war is 'a continuity of policy by other means. He has defined perfectly the theory of war, its tactical and strategic purposes. A must for an military or political leader.
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am 24. April 2000
I believe that this book approaches more strategic thought - as it pertains to business and modern strategic planning - than it pertains to modern warfare. A must for most international business people and financiers. I would not advise anybody to accept the dated (war) tactics as gospel truth but rather conceptualize the depth of proposed strategic thought carefully, internalizing and putting into practice in modern competitive business scenarios.
If one wished to be a successful, international corporate leader, one must keep von Clausewitz close to the heart. Not for the weak minded!
The translation of this edition is horribly mechanical, sentences are way too long and hard to follow (although that would be the case in the original German).
Prosit!
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am 25. August 1998
A fine book that teaches how to think and reason properly.His attitude of taking nothing for granted,and a few exceptionally applicable chapters make up for it's age,and so called out-dated material
Von Clausewitz is read by officers and investors alike .It is a building block in logic.A fine work that must be slowly digested and enjoyed.
Von Clausewitz was a genious.
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am 23. September 1999
The editor's introduction does an excellent job of describing the historical setting of von Clausewitz and the influences that shaped him. The book could be enhanced by an expanded section on comparative military philosophy. Highly recommended to those seeking the origins on "modern" military and political philosophy.
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am 14. Juli 1999
A word of caution to anyone ordering the paperback edition of this work. It is incomplete with some of the books missing. If you are genuinely interested in strategy, buy the hardcover Everyman's edition rather than the Penguin edition.
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am 8. August 1997
Very extensive information regarding Clausewitz and his famous book On War can be found on the Clausewitz Homepage, at URL:
[...]
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am 18. September 1999
Dieses Buch ist sehr gut. Sie muss "On War" auf Clausewitz gelesen.
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