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Clausewitz (Very Short Introductions #61)

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  159 Ratings  ·  13 Reviews
Karl von Clausewitz's study On War was described by the American strategic thinker Bernard Brodie as not simply the greatest, but the only great book about war'. It is hard to disagree. Even though he wrote his only major work at a time when the range of firearms was fifty yards, much of what he had to say remains relevant today. Michael Howard explains Clausewitz's ideas ...more
Paperback, 86 pages
Published September 1st 1983 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published May 16th 1983)
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Maurice
Apr 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This easy read is the first and only book you need to understand Clausewitz. And more. Yes, I mean that. Here is why. What I like about it is that it tells me about the personal life of Clausewitz. That helps me understand his ideas. Secondly, it examines how it was used by generals. You learn a lot about great ideas by looking at how they are used, right?

This short book first tells us about the man Karl von Clausewitz. His personal life and carreer. His struggle to raise in ranks frustrated by
...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
Clausewitz: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions #61), Michael Eliot Howard

Karl von Clausewitz (1780-1831) is considered by many to have been one of the greatest writers on war. His study On War was described by the American strategic thinker Bernard Brodie as "not simply the greatest, but the only great book about war." It is hard to disagree. Even though he wrote his only major work at a time when the range of firearms was fifty yards, much of what he had to say remains relevant
...more
Rich
Dec 27, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Howard's Clausewitz: A Very Short Introduction provides the reader both with the expected and the unexpected. The expected aspect of Howard's short work here provides the reader with the general themes of Clausewitz's On War. However, quite unexpectedly, Howard's work also provides the reader with the context of Clausewitz's zeitgeist.

With regard to the former, having not read Howard's preferred version myself, the Paret (and Howard) translation, I suspect it is only of limited value in providin
...more
Bryan Fencl
May 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition


Anyone starting to read dead Carl should start with this short introduction. It's an easy read, very insightful and provides just enough background to give the reader a better understanding of the great Prussian.
Andrew Carr
Hi, my name is Andrew, I study strategic issues, and I've never read Clausewitz.

That's something difficult to acknowledge, though I suspect I'm in much wider company in my field than I fear. Of course I've read bits and pieces, chapters and sections that have been relevant to research inquiries, but I've never sat down and read it through. I've never studied 'On War' as a project.

I've come to feel that should change, hence getting this very short introduction. I'd normally have hesitated to even
...more
Daniel Wright
A somewhat neglected historical thinker in the English language, Carl von Clausewitz was a Prussian general in the era of Napoleon, who wrote a magisterial thesis On War which is about... well, have a guess. His ideas are responsible both for the successful unification of Germany and for the catastrophic tactics of the First World War, but he remains intriguing. He tried to make his ideas both practically applicable and not restricted to a particular epoch. He had a wide variety of ideas I canno ...more
Justin Evans
Mar 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-etc
The Platonic form of the VSI: a short essay on the subject's life, a slightly longer essay on the subject's thought, all very well written, clear and interesting without being needlessly condescending. Clausewitz seems more interesting to me now than he did before I read this (in part because Howard shows how C is influenced by German idealism; in part because Howard shows how C's thought might be relevant in the nuclear era, without denying that we have to make some adjustments to that thought) ...more
Emily
Apr 01, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read in preparation for upcoming academic studies.

This could be better. The author I don't feel has tried to engage with the reader and the already dry subject matter is not made any more accessible. I also feel like some of the sentences were long and clunky and could have benefited from another proof reader. However I feel the book improved slightly as it went on, hence the 3 stars and not 2. Glad it's over to be honest.
Vinny
Dec 14, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: college-books
Howard presents the dense German writer well but honestly he spends too much time trying to convey that translations are hard. Also, there was never any real summaries that put all things in context. Funny how the author complains about Clausewitz needing a good editor while he should probably splurge for a better one himself. The book isn't bad though and it gives a good representation of the man and the effects his writings had on war, especially WWI.
TrumanCoyote
Dec 17, 2012 rated it liked it
Perhaps the subject matter does not readily lend itself to such a brief introduction. At any rate, I found Clausewitz (at least as he is presented here) seldom seeming to get much beyond the level of fortune-cookie pronouncements.
Steve Dewey
A very short introduction that was, for once, very short, and very well focused (at least I assume so, as I haven't read On War). I feel I have learned something, at least, and something about Clausewitz, and On War, rather than the author, or ancillary readings.
Albert
Jun 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The best strategy in short is to be very strong.
prbeckman
Feb 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm slowly winding my way toward Clausewitz and this is a good, brief introduction.
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Sir Michael Eliot Howard, OM, CH, CBE, MC, FBA, is a British military historian, formerly Chichele Professor of the History of War, Emeritus Fellow of All Souls College, Regius Professor of Modern History at Oxford University, Robert A. Lovett Professor of Military and Naval History at Yale University, and founder of the Department of War Studies, King's College London.
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