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The Book of War : Sun-Tzu's "The Art of War" & Karl Von Clausewitz's "On War" Paperback – February 22, 2000


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The Book of War : Sun-Tzu's "The Art of War" & Karl Von Clausewitz's "On War" + Strategy: Second Revised Edition (Meridian)
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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Civilization might have been spared much of the damage suffered in the world wars this century if the influence of Clausewitz's On War had been blended with and balanced by a knowledge of Sun-tzu's The Art of Warfare. --B.H. Liddel Hart

For two thousand years, Sun-tzu's The Art of Warfare was the indispensable volume of warcraft. Although his work is the first known analysis of war and warfare, Sun-tzu struck upon a thoroughly modern concept: "The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting." Karl von Clausewitz, the canny military theorist who famously declared that war is a continuation of politics by other means, also claims paternity of the notion "total war." His is the magnum opus of the era of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic vars.

Now these two great military minds are made to share the same tent, metaphorically speaking, in The Book of War. What a bivouac it is, and what a conversation into the night.

Military writer Ralph Peters has written a new Introduction for this Modern Library edition.

About the Author

Sun-tzu lived in China in the fourth century B.C., serving as a court minister during the "Warring States" period. He delivered his pronouncements about war over the course of his career, but his words were recorded by other hands. Karl Von Clausewitz (1780-1831) was a Prussian soldier who fought in the Moscow campaigns of 1812 and 1813. He spent over a dozen years writing On War, dying before his book saw publication in 1832.

Ralph Peters is a retired army officer and the author of a noted book on strategy, Fighting for the Future: Will American Triumph?  He is also the author of the novels  The Devil's Garden and Traitor.
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Product Details

  • Series: Modern Library War
  • Paperback: 973 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library; First Edition edition (February 22, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375754776
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375754777
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.3 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #116,422 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Dianne Roberts on September 13, 2008
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If you had to name the two most fundamental works on the nature of war Clausewitz and Sun Tzu would immediately come to mind. Thucydides' history of the Peloponnesian War would perhaps be the only other text nipping on the heels of the two included in here. Providing both in one book is a great idea. The superb editing of the texts and the inclusion of a cogent introduction by Ralph Peters makes this a truly valuable collection to anyone who wishes to understand war and the strategies that guide how it is fought.

Both Sun Tzu's and Clausewitz's texts are presented "unabridged" (in as much as Sun Tzu's work, actually a collection of writers over a good period of time, can be), and with some additional chapters that explains the context of the times in which both were written. This makes this book one of the "purest" examples a reader can obtain of both these influential texts. All of this copious thought from two very different civilizations and very disparate times is neatly prefaced by an insightful introduction by Ralph Peters entitled the "Seeker and the Sage" that is also recreated in his book "Beyond Terror." Whereas Sun Tzu is relatively simple to read (although its simplicity of writing belies its sophistication of thought and it cannot practically be processed as quickly as it can be read) Clausewitz is almost impossible to read, especially in its unabridged form, without some explanation first. Clausewitz's "On War" was never finished, indeed war can never be understood by the finite mental powers of any single individual. It is instead more along the lines of a long kept notebook of a "seeker" who never stopped trying to explore and understand his subject, with some preparation into eventual book form before his premature death.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By gtra1n VINE VOICE on June 19, 2000
Format: Paperback
As Caleb Carr points out in his series introduction, the study of war is the study of half of human history and nature, and is thus important. This is a great collection and a great introduction to that. These two books form a comprehensive study of the philosophy of war, mainly because they are so opposite in nature yet both generally correct. And, surprisingly, Sun-Tzu's maxims on a subject of the most horrendous violence are often quite beautiful. Extra points for the full, not abridged, version of Clausewitz, especially since he never finished the book. An excellent introduction by Ralph Peters.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Chris Bassford on December 4, 2014
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This is a really nice pairing of two superior texts--i.e., the most scrupulous and accurate translation of Carl von Clausewitz's famous, crucially important theoretical work ON WAR and the most modern and complete text of Sun Tzu's ART OF WAR. Both are introduced by the always entertaining and well informed modern soldier-scholar Ralph Peters. Roger Ames' edition of Sun Tzu is based on superb scholarship, including study of the ancient Sun Tzu texts--containing previously missing material--unearthed by archaeologists in China. The translation of Clausewitz is the one done by German literary scholar Otto Jolles at the University of Chicago in 1943. The un-military Jolles' primary motivation in doing this translation was to avoid being drafted by the US Army for World War II, so he had no military-theoretical biases or personal axes to grind. He was, however, highly literate in the German of Clausewitz's era (he was a specialist on Schiller) and his British father-in-law (also an academic) worked to polish Jolles' English. Indeed, the only accurate criticism made of this translation concerns the erroneous spelling of Clausewitz's first name with a 'K'--a decision almost certainly made not by Jolles but by the publishers to emphasize Clausewitz's German-ness. One can, however, criticize the writer of the book's back cover: Clausewitz did not use the term "total war," was not the author of that concept as it was applied in the 20th century, and would have sneered at the total-war theorists' inversion of the relationship between policy and strategy. General Erich Ludendorff, one of the principal authors of total-war thinking, clearly articulated the nature of the contradiction between Clausewitz's ideas and his own.Read more ›
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By M. Horton on September 3, 2010
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This is a great book, and has Sun Tzu's "Art of War" and Karl Von Clausewitz's "On War" both are great books, and if you love war you will love this and see how a lot of battles where won and lost.
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By Adam Sacks on February 2, 2014
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2 great books finally together... These two companion books I would always buy together and now finally they are sold as one volume - super!
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The Book of War : Sun-Tzu's "The Art of War" & Karl Von Clausewitz's "On War"
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