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Carl Von Clausewitz's "On War": A Book That Shook the World (Books That Shook the World) Hardcover – 8 Oct 2007

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Books (8 Oct. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1843543915
  • ISBN-13: 978-1843543916
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 2.4 x 20.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,475,177 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


"'A towering achievement.' Richard Holmes, Guardian 'One of the most impressive books of modern history in a generation.' Max Hastings, Evening Standard"

Book Description

Now in paperback, Hew Strachan tells in engaging and vivid detail the story of the most important treatise on war ever written: a book that has been blamed for the unprecedented death tolls in the First and Second World Wars. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program) 5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must for Clausewitz Scholars 26 Nov. 2007
By J. Czarnecki - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Hew Strachan has written an extraordinarily insightful book on Clausewitz and his theory/philosophy of war. The book is important for two reasons: (1) it provides a useful corrective to the current over-indulgence with the Howard-Paret interpretation of Clausewitz's major English-translated book, "On War;" and (2) it provides additional arguments that support the relevance of Clausewitz's thoughts to current times and events. Of course, Clausewitz should be relevant since he was digging into the psychology of war as much as its practice. Human psychological evolution changes much more slowly than the technologies of war; thus if Clausewitz got the psychology right, his ideas should endure. According to Strachan, they do. However, Strachan's most salient insight is this: that Clausewitz never intended to predict or forecast war in the future. He only tried to explain it in the present. That Clausewitz's explanations remain fresh is testament to the depth of his understanding of the dark side of the human psyche.
5.0 out of 5 stars Marvelous Insight into ON WAR 25 Jan. 2013
By Stephen M. St Onge - Published on
Carl von Clausewitz spent the last dozen years of his life producing On War, a work unlike any that had come before it. Many authors, going back to Sun Tzu and The Art of War (1963), had written works on tactics and campaigns, advising the general on how to win on the battlefield. Clausewitz himself had done this with his Principles of War. But in On War, Clausewitz aimed higher, seeking to produce a general philosophical work on war and strategy. However, Clausewitz died suddenly, and the work published as On War had to be pulled together from his drafts and notes by his widow and brother-in-law. Additionally, Clausewitz's thinking changed over the dozen years he worked on his project, so that some parts of On War are contradicted by other parts. As a result, Clausewitz has been cited in support of many different and sometimes incompatible positions.

Strachan cuts through this confusion, showing how some features of Clausewitz's thinking remained constant, and how other portions changed. Strachan separates out some of the great Prussian's main ideas, but instead of summarizing them, he paints a picture of their complexity, and how they interact. He follows Clausewitz's development of his theory, and shows us how Clausewitz expanded the scope of his thought, and brought in new ideas. Most importantly, Strachan stresses what Clausewitz saw as the most important idea of all: war is a complex interaction of reason, passion, and chance, constantly changing, something that must be looked at afresh in each conflict, and during the conflict, to see what its nature is NOW.

Read Carl von Clausewitz's On War to find out both how to approach On War, and how to think about the complex subject of war.

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