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On War (Penguin Classics) Paperback – November 18, 1982
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Top Customer Reviews
That said, it is not easy to read. There are three primary reasons for this:
First, it is unfinished. The first chapter ("book" as Clausewitz called it) is sharp, well-organized and focused, other chapters are so-so, and still others are almost formless collections of notes.
Second, Clausewitz is thinking philosophically. Most people, including many or most in his target audience, are unaccustomed to thinking this way, and find it difficult to re-orient themselves.
Third, parts of it are firmly locked in a particular time and place. The reader must work to determine what (if any) lessons in those parts are of enduring value and must understand references that, however clear they would have been to his contemporaries, are today obscure.
So, given all of the above, it is fair for the reader to ask why he should bother. The reason is the power of Clausewitz's answers to:
(1) What is the nature of war itself?
(2) What is war's relation to the larger world in which it exists?
(3) How can success in war be achieved?
Clausewitz's answer to question (1) is that war in itself is a duel on a large scale, which unless acted on from the outside, tends towards the maximum possible amount of violence. This discussion of "pure war" has probably been responsible for more mis-interpretations of Clausewitz than anything else he wrote.Read more ›
Likewise, to say that Asian warfare differs in some fundamental way from Western war, or from war in general, is nonsense, as is the idea that Sun Tzu--whose all-knowing general controls events far more than either Clausewitz or historical experience would suggest is possible--somehow represents a "decentralized" approach. Sun Tzu is extremely valuable, but he and Clausewitz are best understood together. Read Michael Handel on that.
There are several English translations of ON WAR, in many editions, and these vary greatly in value. Amazon's listings often confuse the different versions, so be careful. The version edited by biologist/musician Anatol Rapoport is particularly worthless. His lengthy, lunatic, 1968 introduction is actually about Kissinger, not Clausewitz.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Not being a career military man this is one of those books offering a "nice to know but not necessary in a practical sense" content. It is interesting.Published 17 days ago by Howard C. Mayberry, Jr.
Clausewitz was among the most brilliant minds to grace the fields of military and political philosophy. Read morePublished 2 months ago by C. Edwards
The book is literally just a .txt file on notepad that was printed out and sold, the font is like programming font. EXTREMELY hard to read.Published 3 months ago by William Porter
This is not a proper book. At all. This is just the printout of someone's 'on war.txt' computer file on somewhat nice paper and bound up in what's probably some spare cover... Read morePublished 3 months ago by David Satterthwaite
Not impressed, very simple, basic fonts used. Literally has "On War.txt" at top of every other page, couldn't be more of a hack job. Read morePublished 4 months ago by BinaryWizard
Excellent edition, the three introductory essays (on the text's origins, its influence, and continued relevance) are an invaluable aid to the text. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Josh