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Clausewitz's 'On War' (Books That Shook the World)

3.5  ·  Rating Details ·  108 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
Perhaps the most important book on military strategy ever written, Carl von Clausewitz’s On War has influenced generations of generals and politicians, has been blamed for the unprecedented death tolls in the First and Second World Wars, and is required reading at military academies to this day. But On War , which was never finished and was published posthumously, is obscu ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published July 10th 2007 by Atlantic Monthly Press (first published 2006)
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Jan 24, 2013 Rich rated it really liked it
At the revelation of my reading a couple books about Clausewitz's tome On War a trusted friend rebuked me.

Perhaps my friend was correct that there are problems with reading a secondary source before the primary source. Derivative thinking does have the risks of limiting the true, if original, lessons conveyed by the trusted primary source that one could learn directly. This is particularly true for On War, given Wilhem Rustow's oft-repeated proclamation that Clausewitz "has become well known, b
Mar 21, 2013 Christopher rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is, to put it quite simply, the best book-length analysis of Clausewitz that I've ever read (and I've read nearly all of them).

Strachan's approach is thorough and even-handed: he recounts the major analytical themes of Clausewitz's earlier interpreters (writing in English, German, and French) alongside those of what might be called the second- and third-wave revisionists of the 1970s and the 2000s. He's able to synthesize what's come before into a complete, fair-minded, and nuanced apprecia
"Clausewitz's On War" by Hew Strachan is a kind of biography of Carl von Clausewitz, although the book concentrates on the literary work for which he is known. In a sense, it becomes a biography of this book in fact. H.S. first outlines von Clausewitz's origins and personal development, the wars in which he fought and other major events which might have influenced his writing. In a slightly hodge-podge way, he goes through the different books which build up 'On War'.
Rightly, quite a few pages a
J Scott Shipman
Jun 14, 2012 J Scott Shipman rated it it was amazing
Exceptionally well done and recommended. Strachan's book is a good primer on Clausewitz's On War is an invaluable resource.
Feb 13, 2014 Rob rated it liked it
An often-times interesting commentary on an interesting, and very influential book: I have some frustrations, nonetheless. I felt that Mr Strachan's book lacked a coherency, and, while containing insights and background, lacked an overall structure. Although, perhaps, this is due to the nature in which I consumed the book--namely, via audiobook, in small chunks. I'm going to give this book another chance in dead-tree format, probably around the time that I next read Clausewitz himself and am ope ...more
Karlo Mikhail
Apr 30, 2014 Karlo Mikhail rated it liked it
While Strachan jumps all over the place in offering his arguments, the book serves as an accessible and fairly comprehensive overview of Clausewitz's On War.
Mike Harbert
Jun 01, 2013 Mike Harbert rated it it was amazing
Shelves: military-theory
A wonderful companion work to understanding Clausewitz's "On War." If you are reading and studying Clausewitz, then this may be one of the best companion books for that study. If you are not studying Clausewitz, but are seeking a sort of "Cliff Notes" or "Clausewitz for Dummies" then this might suffice. But seriously, if you want to understand Clausewitz, you have to read "On War" and a variety of companion works or commentaries - there are no short cuts.

Over an excellent book that helps to put
Mar 30, 2016 Mick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
A very good summation of the genesis and theories in On War.
Dec 20, 2008 Shad rated it liked it
This was a good introduction to On War and a helpful overview of issues addressed therein and their relevance over the past couple of centuries. It was effective in motivating me to want to take on On War (which is 8 books long), although it was disappointing to learn that the author does not find any of the English translations up to his standards.
Joseph Monaco
This was a great read. I dove into the actual On War before reading this biography, and I think that's the best order to do it. Strachan does a great job of granting perspective on who Clausewitz was and his main points throughout the books. Definitely value-added in continuing a study of Uncle Carl.
Jun 04, 2014 Sky rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Despite not being the most well-read student of Clausewitz, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It does an outstanding job of highlighting and giving context to several of the obscure or even contradictory aspects of On War.
May 15, 2016 Brian rated it it was ok
I think Clausewitz is a fascinating character. The book has some very good parts, however, it does not flow well.
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Hew Strachan was born and brought up in Edinburgh, and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 2003 and awarded an Hon. D.Univ., (Paisley) 2005. He is also Life Fellow of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, where he was successively Research Fellow, Admissions Tutor and Senior Tutor, 1975-92. From 1992 to 2001 he was Professor of Modern History at the University of Glasgow, and from ...more
More about Hew Strachan...

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