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Clausewitz: His Life and Work 1st Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0199357949
ISBN-10: 0199357943
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  • Clausewitz: His Life and Work
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  • Clausewitz: A Very Short Introduction
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Editorial Reviews


"Carl von Clausewitz is better known as a scholar of war than a soldier, but Stoker, of the [Naval War College Program at the] Naval Postgraduate School, demonstrates that Clausewitz's theoretical writings were, in fact, heavily informed by extensive field experience....This practical knowledge informed his voluminous postwar writings on history, politics, and war itself. On War "shows us how to think about war," Stoker notes, but it is shaped by how wars are made: that remains Clausewitz's special legacy. Publishers Weekly 09/08/2014

"A timely and welcome update to Roger Parkinson's and Peter Paret's biographies of Clausewitz; Stoker's treatment of the Prussian's life is both lively and accessible."
--Antulio J. Echevarria II, Elihu Root Chair of Miltiary Studies, U.S. Army War College

"This is a well-written and valuable addition to the Clausewitz library, but it also serves as a useful history of the Napoleonic Wars, as Stoker draws on Clausewitz's sharp observations to illuminate some of the most important military engagements of that period." Lawrence Freedman, author of Strategy: A History
, in Foreign Affairs

"Clausewitz: His Life and Work" is an excellent introduction to both the life of Clausewitz and his great work, "On War." J. W. Thacker, Department of History, Western Kentucky University, Bolling Green Daily News

"What makes Stoker's book remarkable is that Clausewitz is turned into a very approachable and recognizable person. It is organized in such a way as to follow Clausewitz and his various works through his tumultuous career, delivering a seamless exposition that pairs well with the pictures and maps provided for each operation. This work speaks to younger officers in particular but has a broad appeal to all those interested in the development of strategy." - Army Magazine

"Great. A skillful study of the interplay of military history and thought provides Don Stoker with an instructive way to approach Clausewitz's career and writings." --Jeremy Black, author of War and Technology

"One of the book's great strengths is its accessibility; Stoker weaves the standard sources together with authoritative, modern secondary treatments to form a readable, well-paced narrative that draws out biographical detail while illuminating the broader political and military canvas on which Clausewitz's life was lived." - War on the Rocks

"Carefully crafted...an important and worthy book." - The Daily Beast

About the Author

Donald Stoker is Professor of Strategy and Policy for the U.S. Naval War College's program at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. He is the author of The Grand Design: Strategy and the U.S. Civil War.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 376 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (November 3, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199357943
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199357949
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 1.4 x 6.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #452,674 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Clausewitz is a well detailed and thoroughly researched biography of a man known primarily (at least to me) for his theories on war. But truth be told I knew little about the man until I read Stoker's slightly dry but still engaging biography.

The author does a wonderful job relating Clausewitz's life and putting into the perspective of the soldier's career and how it translated into his theories and writings on the makings of war. Stoker manages to bring life to a matter that in today's light is rather grim and even macabre. Never glorifying war but making sure that the time's reason and notions were faithfully portrayed and explained.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Fleshes out the actual person behind the creation of his military thought in addition to discussing his thinking war.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Donald Stoker’s biographical approach to Clausewitz is to trace his life throughout his military career. What makes this book interesting is the way Stoker weaves Clausewitz’s biographical information into a military history of the Napoleonic wars using the battles and campaigns in which Clausewitz was involved with both the Prussian and Russian armies. At the same time you can see how his battlefield experience, and personal philosophical studies, influenced his approach to studying military history, and developing his thinking for “On War.” And his battlefield experience was extensive; as Stoker notes in “Clausewitz’s Battles,” an Appendix, Clausewitz fought in 34 plus specifically identified battles, and likely more not identified.

Essentially this is a normal chronological narrative beginning when Clausewitz was a boy officer seeing his first campaign at age thirteen. It then follows his military career and battles during the very traumatic period, for Prussia, when Napoleon won some of his most impressive battles, through his time as a prisoner of war in France. After this period Clausewitz spent years as an instructor and writer, working with such important German military personalities as Gneisenau and Scharnhorst. Another important experience for Clausewitz was when he resigned from the Prussian army and, along with other key Prussian officers, joined the Russian army to fight against Napoleon during his famous 1812 invasion of Russian. It follows Clausewitz back to the west temporarily ending Napoleon’s reign in 1814. Temporarily because, as we know, Napoleon escaped Elba which led to the 100 Days Campaign and more battles with the Prussian army with Clausewitz back in a Prussian uniform.
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Format: Hardcover
Grappling with Clausewitz's theories is hard. This title offers a chance to gain insights by studying his life story. This thoroughly researched, generally readable biography shows the real-life Clausewitz - an ambitious soldier caught up in the campaigns, battles, and behind-the-scenes politics of the Napoleonic Wars. Like many a young officer, Clausewitz thirsted for battlefield glory; unlike many he survived to write about it. More importantly he melded his experience of battlefields, headquarters, generals and field marshals with profound reflections on military theory.

At age eleven, when kids like me were shuttling electric trains around living rooms, young Clausewitz`s father handed him over to the Prussian army. There Clausewitz found himself in a stagnant military culture. The days of Frederick the Great were over; Prussia was a minor state under indecisive leadership as France simmered, then boiled over, exporting its revolution to the world. Inspired partly by his mentors, Scharnhorst and Gneisenau (real men, not pairings of warships that rattled British nerves in both world wars), Clausewitz recognized weaknesses in the Prussian army and worked for reform. Just as important, Clausewitz found himself caught up in the budding yet controversial politics of German nationalism that grew as Prussia suffered defeats and humiliations at Napoleon's hands. He served in the siege of Mainz in 1793, then again at Prussia's humiliating defeat at Auerstadt in 1806. In 1812, frustrated with the way Prussia was collaborating with Napoleon to attack Russia, Clausewitz went over to the Russian army, where he served through the long retreat and saw combat at Borodino.
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