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The Art Of War: War and Military Thought Hardcover – June 30, 2000

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About the Author

Martin van Creveld is Professor of Military History at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem. He is an internationally acknowledged military historian whose works have been translated into nine languages.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Cassell (June 30, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0304352640
  • ISBN-13: 978-0304352647
  • Product Dimensions: 10.7 x 8.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #396,238 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By J. Wan on June 19, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This work by van Creveld is part of the History of War series from Cassell and is edited by notable historian John Keegan. It attempts to cover in single readable volume the development of military thought from ancient to modern times. Such a broad "Military Theory Survey 101" is necessarily shallow in depth. It is notable for several points: 1. It discusses Eastern theories of warfare from the ancient Chinense and other non-European viewpoints. 2. It discusses naval (Mahan, Corbett) and air power theories (Mitchell, Duhuet). 3. It gives proper credit of the concept of "total war", that is a whole nation or peoples in a struggle, to early civilization, such as the Romans.
Unfortunately because of the shallowness, it has occasionally, a "if it is chapter 5, it must be Clausewitz" feeling of hurrying along. It drops tantilizing clues about some controversies - i.e. was Liddel Hart really an proto-theorist of maneuver warfare or was it a post-WWII creation? Were air power theorists of the 1920's predicating the effectiveness of strategic bombing on the use of mass destruction weapons? (for their time, 1920's, gas bombs)Finally though there is a wonderful map showing how the campaigns of the One Hundred Year's War were fought not just along political/geographic lines, but also along available areas for plunder and forage, much more could have been said about the rising importance of military logistics, especially as van Creveld is an expert in this area.
In short, an excellent survey of the major ideas in military thought. All of the usual suspects are there, Sun Tzu, Clauswitz, and Mahan along with those thinkers more usually associated with the world of politics. If you have to blitz through 2,500 years of theory in one night, this is the book.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Charles F. Hawkins on July 26, 2000
Format: Hardcover
To echo the comments of reviewers "wanchob" and "a reader from Israel," Martin Van Creveld has done exactly what he stated he would in presenting "The Art of War." Long on breadth and short on depth, this work touches on the ideas of the most well-known military theorists in history. It is a good starting point for new students of military history, and a convenient reference. I was pleased to see a listing of notable military thinkers at the end of the book, as I was a list of suggested further reading.
Once the reader has absorbed what Creveld has to say, they may seek a more detailed analysis of war in, for example, Donald Kagan's "On the Origins of War" (Anchor Books, 1995). For a discussion on a true theory of combat, a good companion work is Trevor Dupuy's "Understanding War: History and Theory of Combat" (Paragon House, 1987).
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 29, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I thought The Art of War was an good book - albeit slightly different than what I expected. Its literally a basic survey of military theorists, not a survey of military practice (this can be very weird in terms of structure since major conflicts are usually skipped over - everybody being too busy fighting to write much about war).
A quick read (many of its pages are devoted to large and completely irrelevant illustrations and historical paintings), I thought it was disappointingly light in articulating the core theories of the many theorists it discusses (the maps describing key battles which supposedly illustrate key principles of the various theorists are uniformly awful). Its other great weakness is the author's continual need to gloss over details "which everyone must know" despite the fact that the tone and depth of the material is clearly aimed at one who has no knowledge of the subject whatsoever (like yours truly). Thus the reader is 'spared' arguably unnecessary details such as who stole credit and back-stapped who after the Second World War, but also spared even a brief biographical sketch of Clauswitz (all the more baffling because he considers such information critical to the understanding of many other theorists).
Yet I still liked the book and thought I met my basic needs. Overall I think it presents a very balanced and necessary broad picture of the history of military theory, and I now feel completely comfortable diving into, The Art of War, On War, Strategy, etc. Knowing more or less what period of history they fit into, what those who followed thought of them, how those writings influenced actual conflicts an what conflicts they came from. In short, twenty dollars well spent to bypass a year of reading and cross-referencing just to get a good context for my studies.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 23, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Martin van Creveld has impeccable references as a much soughtafter military analyst. This book does what it is suppose to do - that is to introduce the subject on the Art of war to lay readers. I think that he does a decent job of summarising military thoughts and theories from various sources and there are no major surprises in his coverage. I was unclear as to whether the coverage was mainly theoreticians or practitioners of the art. The author states the former. Given the title, I would have thought that it should include the latter also.
However, there is a some uneveness in the scope in specific areas. I was surprised that the following examples were not featured: Nathan Forrest 'get there fustest with the mostest' maxim; General Guderian's thoughts on Blitzkrieg; General Rommel's book on infantry tactics; Lawrence's ideas on guerilla warfare; Hap Arnold's on carpet bombing and so on.
The text is also not rigorously edited. Poor sentence construction include various subjects leading to ambiguity, numerous conjunctions and phrases which lead to confusion. I had to do constant double-takes to understand the flow of the narrative.
The pictures also do not necessarily complement the text and includes poor captions in some instances.
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