by Carl von Clausewitz
Published in 1835
Thibault's Score: 4/5
On War is likely going to remain on my bookshelf as a personal favorite of mine. The lessons to be learned from this book are unique and applicable in everything from romance to business.
Before Clausewitz’s military masterpiece, previous Western military theorists hadn’t created an all-in compassing analysis of war applicable to all times and places. Instead, past chroniclers focused on rare military circumstances only applicable to certain specific times and places.
Few of these theorists had attempted to define war, let alone lay out its bare and universal principles. They wrote about swords and horses, about spearmen formations and cavalry charges, and about archers and muskets. None of these works are remembered as anything other than historical documents, for their lessons, while useful, don’t apply to the realities of modern warfare.
Clausewitz did more than write a laundry list of successful strategies. Instead, he outlines a comprehensive and all-encompassing military doctrine which all later Western generals would rely on.
He goes over the fundamentals of victory and loss, of morale and courage, and of battle tactics.
Although Clausewitz wrote at the turn of the 19th century and couldn’t have possibly imagined the wars of today, his lessons still hold true. When he writes about the importance of setting clear military objectives, I couldn’t help but think about Iraq or Vietnam.
Many of his ideas even apply to cyberwarfare, a topic that I have been very deeply researching over the past year.
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