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On War

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  5,592 ratings  ·  159 reviews
Carl Von Clausewitz, a career military man, wrote this book while serving with the Prussian Army during the early 1800's. He was a military thinker with a philosophical bent. His writings on the theories, and strategies, of war have stood the test of time and have been standard reading at our military academies.
461 pages
Published 1985 (first published 1832)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Matt
Reviewing classics can be humbling. Some books have passed through so many generations and have been analyzed so thoroughly that they've reached mythic proportions. Only the arrogant or ignorant would criticize them. On War is just such a book.

First the disclaimer. I have an amateur interest in military history but do not have the depth to fully appreciate mid-19th century military theory. Regardless, I know enough to appreciate Clausewitz's rejection of formulated tactics and movement.

Now for
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Michael Burnam-fink
"War is simply the continuation of politics by other means."

Far too many people quote Clausewitz without read him, but after reading this edition of On War, there is no excuse not to read Clausewitz, and perhaps understand him.

I will speak first to the translation: This is how it should be done. Howard, Paret, and Brodie produce an accurate and highly readable text, with invaluable supplementary essays on the historical impact of Clausewitz and his key points. Accept no other translations.

Secon
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Mike Edwards
Almost 200 years later, this masterpiece is still misunderstood and ignored.

Clausewitz argues that the purpose of war is to disarm your opponent and thereby force him to give you want you want. Based on this premise, he concludes that wars are essentially unwinnable on the battlefield: it is virtually impossible to completely disarm your opponent through might alone. Instead, your opponent at some point has to decide to give you want you want--and getting your opponent to come to that decision m
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Silvana
The most difficult book I've ever completed. Took me a month just to read it, and sadly not 100% able to understand the whole thing. This one needs a re-read someday. Some parts are just so indigestible and make me want to pull my hair due to frustration.

Having said that, why I gave this book four stars? Well, first it is a challenging read. Secondly, the contents are unbelievable. Yes, some explanations may be outdated, but the gist is still relevant. If one could get pass through the Book I-II
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James
This book stands as an important and modern classic about the nature of war. Clausewitz applies rigorous analysis to almost all the factors that influence war, not least of which are social and political aspects. Indeed, for him, war is part of man's social existence, and politics the womb in which war develops. This is encapsulated in his famous comment: "War is merely the continuation of policy by other means."

There are a number of intriguing and developed insights within this book: how defens
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Olethros
-Probablemente, sin superar tras ciento ochenta y dos años.-

Género. Ensayo.

Lo que nos cuenta. Análisis teórico sobre la guerra basado en el pensamiento del autor, su experiencia y su tiempo, desde su propio concepto hasta la generalidad de sus planes operativos, pasando por las fuerzas armadas, el combate y la teoría estratégica. Publicado de manera póstuma, menos de un año después del fallecimiento del autor, con sólo el primer libro, de los ocho que lo componen, revisado por Clausewitz y los
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Justin
I have never really understood the west's fascination with Carl von Clausewitz. His writing style is dull and repetitive, while the vast majority of his "brilliant" theories could be summed up in a couple of sentences. In fact, they already have been summed up in a couple of sentences by the Seven Chinese Military Classics and Sun Pin.

I will give von Clausewitz some credit with his ideas about "friction" in war. His views on the "fog of war" and how war relates with politics are also quite usefu
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Rlotz
As I set out to review a book on warfare from the Nalopeonic era, it strikes me that this is the perfect opportunity to jot down some reflections on what makes a classic worth reading. After all, despite my childhood fascination with military technology, I am not particularly interested in war as a subject. And even if I was, could I really gain a deeper understanding from such an outdated work as this? So considering both my lack of interest in the subject, and the book’s obsolescence, I predic ...more
Al
Five stars for the translation which is simply the best on the market, and includes a superb commentary by Bernard Brodie. This is my fourth time reading this in the context of a class (Naval War College) and it is not any easier to navigate or understand, however, it is never a waste of time.

Clausewitz himself gives the best summary of this work on p. 89: "First, therefore, it is clear that war should never be thought of as something autonomous, but always as an instrument of policy; otherwise
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Alan
As a sometime student of History and War Studies I read this book a long long time ago in a galaxy far far away...

I have the abridged Wordsworth Classics edition, abridged because the original consists of eight books in three volumes, and of course was written in German, so it's not a light read.

On War is certainly one of the great books of military history. It is probably also one of the most dangerous, because his theories can, and have been, taken out of context and misused as justification f
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Jon
Ranked one of the great contributions in the literature of war, Clausewitz's book, "On War", presents a wide-ranging and very intellectual discussion of the subject of war. There is room for debate about precisely what the book is about. But Clausewitz is emphatic about what it is not: it is not a book on doctrine; it does not presume to give definitive tactical lessons; it does not pretend to give a formula on strategy-making. These are not Clausewitz's purpose. Rather it is theory that he says ...more
Ivana
Without doubt the best book about war ever written!
Even after all this time (how long has it been since it was written? centuries!) it is not dated. Really, it is not dated.

Carl Von Clausewitz is the first theorist of war (and he remains the best). Moreover, he is the first to write and understand war fully. There are other great books on this subject such as those written by Machiavelli and Sun Tzu but this is a theory, a great theory of war. Just like Sun Tzu and Machiavelli, the author creat
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Bradley Hood
On War is often considered tedious, long, and difficult to read. Those who promote this argument certainly have some valid points, and their concerns were echoed by Clausewitz's contemporaries, which led to Antoine Henri Jomini achieving far more prominence in military circles before 1914. However, despite Jomini's continued influence in the concept of "scientific principles of war", Clausewitz's On War has proved instrumental in shaping the foundations of today's military theory and thought. An ...more
Aaron Crofut
It's hard to write a review of such a disjointed work. The important points he hits on are indeed extremely important, but wading through 750 pages of repetitive and wordy abstract run on sentences gets old pretty quickly. Two most important points:

1) Why don't nations fight wars of annihilation (remember, this is the early 19th Century, he doesn't know about the World Wars)? Well, why don't school children carry on their fights to the death? Answer: doing so isn't anywhere near worth the cost.
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Antonio Jr.
There are scores of books throughout history that have stood the test of time and remain relevant even today. To Clausewitz's credit, "On War" is one of them. Unfortunately, while Clausewitz's observations may be timeless, his writing style and voice are horribly out of date. His treatise is obtuse, repetitive, and rife with long-winded, complicated sentences.

It is true that he was a soldier and not a writer, and that his holistic view of war has shaped the manner in which armed conflict is cond
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TarasProkopyuk
Очень важная и весьма качественная работа Фон Клаузевица для военного искусства как такого.

Конечно же хотелось чтоб эти знания стали достоянием мировой истории и больше уже никогда не применялись по прямому назначению.

Автор очень тщательно заглянул во множество аспектов и по крупицам разобрал все моменты от которых прямым или косвенным образом зависят исходы войн и сражений. Но при желании, если читатель проведёт правильные аналогии, он сможет многое взять из книги дабы применить полученные зн
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Mick E.
Como bien dicen y no mal, "un clásico de la literatura de estrategia". He de reconocer que jo es una lectura fácil, nada menos tardé 6 meses en este libro. Mismo que es todo un ladrillo. ¿Sigue teniendo vigencia esta obra? Sí, aunque habríamos que aclarar sobre qué tema. El ensayo de Clausewitz toca historia, política, táctica militar, estrategia, administración y filosofía. La importancia del libro pesa más en algunos tópicos que en otros, misma situación que pasa con su vigencia. En cuanto a h ...more
Henry Manampiring
Sep 12, 2007 Henry Manampiring rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone young and foolish enough to become an army officer
Dubbed "Sun Tzu from the West", I rushed to buy this book after it was mentioned in my fave movie Crimson Tide. Turned out to be as indigestible as unthawed frozen food. So much with my youth's dream of becoming a general and invade Malaysia....

One point from the book still rings in my head though: "you only achieve complete victory if you have broken the enemy's WILL to fight". As long as there is will to resist and fight, the enemy will be a pain in the ass, no matter how poorly equipped they
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Justin Tapp
I was inspired to read this after it was cited heavily in Gaddis' biography of George Kennan and Thomas Ricks' The Generals. As the U.S. embarks on a quasi-war against the Islamic State, I was eager to compare Clausewitz's thoughts on war to the modern, limited conflicts we currently seem to wage with unclear political ends.

Carl von Clausewitz was a Prussian general and military theorist. On War was part of Clausewitz's writings from 1816 to 1830 and appear to be Clausewitz's attempts to form a
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Jaron Roux
So, after taking a week to really chew up and digest Uncle Carl, I see how and why a lot of people get his propositions wrong! They get his theory wrong, and then mis-apply it to modern day situations without fully understanding his context. I know for a fact this week has help to make me a better military thinker for gaining a better understanding and appreciation of Clausewitz!
Yunia Damayanti
Berbeda dengan Sun Tzu, Clausewitz memandang perang persis seperti apa yang kita pikirkan pertama kali tentang perang (pergulatan senjata, menghancurkan lawan, dll). Itulah teori strategi perang menurut Clausewitz yang saya pelajari "lagi-lagi" di kelas Strategi dan Tata Kelola Strategi. Clausewitz berpendapat bahwa perang adalah di mana kamu harus mengahancurkan musuhmu sampai mereka tidak berdaya. Menurut Clausewitz di bukunya "On War" ada beberapa cara untuk menghancurkan musuh, yaitu dengan ...more
JS Found
Okay, so this is a long book--over 600 pages--and some of it is a slog--like a battle that has gone on too long, with the reader's army expending a lot of energy and time to finish. But, it can be useful. The book I mean. Even as we don't fight wars in our everyday lives, we can use this book to solve problems and conflicts. Maybe. I haven't put its advice and strategies into action yet. But, here's hoping. Among much advice, Clausewitz says war is politics by other means. He urges it to be deci ...more
Replicant33
As many have observed, this is the most often quoted yet least read or understood work of military theory ever written. A core text at the graduate school where I teach, I have probably read this full work ten times, and select sections several times that, over the past ten years - not to mention all of Clausewitz's other works that have been translated into English, plus many of the dozens of scholarly works seeking to apply, explain, or critique On War - and I continue to learn from and about ...more
Stephanie
No one can actually enjoy reading Clausewitz - it simply must be done.
Robert
Was soll man schon über ein Buch schreiben über das schon so viel geschrieben wurde? Für mich war wesentlich, dass in diesem Buch vieles steckt was mir "competitive behaviour" verständlicher macht, wie: "Wenn der Gegner unseren Willen erfüllen soll, so müssen wir ihn in eine Lage versetzen, die nachteiliger ist, als das Opfer, welches wir von ihm fordern;" (S.14), oder: "Je kleiner das Opfer ist, welches wir von unserem Gegner fordern, um so geringer dürfen wir erwarten, dass seine Anstrengungen ...more
Hans
More context would make this text much more palatable. One thing stood out in the back of my mind as I read this "If the British had this known this during the Revolutionary war they would have know that capturing Washington and destroying his Army was the only needed objective to have won".

Clausewitz and the theories contained herein are what gave birth to the Excellence of the Prussian Officer corps and thereby differentiating the Germans from the rest of Europe for years. Even in the US for
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Helmut
Literatur oder Handbuch?

Der Inhalt dieses Werks und seine Bedeutung für die Militärgeschichte wurden nun schon ausführlich von diversen Rezensenten besprochen. Doch wie sieht es mit der literarischen Qualität des Texts aus? Ist er auch geeignet für Leute, denen in ersten Linie an Gedanken, deren Ausformulierung und Lesbarkeit liegt?

Diesbezüglich bin ich etwas zwiegespalten. Von Clausewitz' Prosa ist blumig und ausgeschmückt; der Text liest sich daher angenehm und flüssig, wenn auch stellenweise
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Nicholas
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Arianp
Arian Poshka

Book: On War by Carl von Clausewitz

Clausewitz’s purpose in writing On War is to offer insight into the art of war. He also wrote it as a philosophical and tactical handbook for military commanders. This book is different to Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, as it goes deeply into the causes of war and its uses. The main message Clausewitz sends to the audience is that war is merely a political tool, used as the last throw of the die. On War was also written in a time when war was changing d
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Nate Huston
Lots of good stuff to think about. Lots of extraneous stuff that seems quaint in a time of airpower, let alone cyber power. Here's an observation from one of my classmates - We seem to spend a lot of time debating what Clausewitz MEANT and less time talking about whether it's of any value. It would be a good deal more valuable to use our time to disect the applicability of one or another interpretation of a given edict rather than arguing about the meaning of the word duality...or whatever.

Still
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Carl Philipp Gottlieb von Clausewitz was a Prussian soldier, military historian and military theorist. He is most famous for his military treatise Vom Kriege, translated into English as On War.

Clausewitz has served in the Rhine campaign (1793–1794), when the Prussian army invaded France during the French revolution and in the Napoleonic Wars from 1806 to 1815.

Clausewitz helped negotiate the Conven
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More about Carl von Clausewitz...
Principles of War Clausewitz on Strategy: Inspiration and Insight from a Master Strategist On the Nature of War The Russian Campaign of 1812 War, Politics, and Power: Selections from on War, and I Believe and Profess

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“War is nothing but a continuation of politics with the admixture of other means.” 28 likes
“The conqueror is always a lover of peace; he would prefer to take over our country unopposed.” 17 likes
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