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War Plans To be understood, On War really has to be approached as a whole, but the intelligent reader needs to keep in mind that various sections reflect different stages in Clausewitz's intellectual and theoretical evolution.
Books One, Two, and Eight are generally considered the most important and the most nearly "finished" especially Book Onewhile older parts sometimes fail to connect with Clausewitz's most mature ideas.
Some sections are often left out of abridged versions, especially Books Five, Six, and Seven, allegedly because they are tactical in nature and thus obsolete. This sometimes leads to serious misunderstandings of Clausewitz's arguments, for it is precisely in these books that he works out the practical implications of his ideas.
For those who prefer to paint Clausewitz as the "apostle of the offensive," it is especially convenient to leave out Book Six, "Defense"—by far the largest, which demonstrated Clausewitz's controversial conviction that defense is inherently the stronger form of war.
One of the main sources of confusion about Clausewitz's approach lies in his dialectical method of presentation.
For example, Clausewitz's famous line that "War is merely a continuation of Politik," while accurate as far as it goes, was not intended as a statement of fact.
It is the antithesis in a dialectical argument whose thesis is the point—made earlier in the analysis—that "war is nothing but a duel [or wrestling match, a better translation of the German Zweikampf] on a larger scale.
This synthesis resolves the deficiencies of the two earlier bald statements, indicating that war is neither "nothing but" an act of brute force nor "merely" a rational act of politics or policy. Rather, it is a dynamic, inherently unstable interaction of the forces of violent emotion, chance, and rational calculation on all sides.
Identifying precisely who was to benefit from reading On War, and precisely how, are perplexing questions. Clausewitz's practical purpose in writing included providing "military analysts" with a clear conceptual scheme for understanding war, in hopes of improving both its actual conduct and the literature discussing it.
He hoped that such an understanding would improve the judgement of military commanders, but he also believed that "military genius" was more a matter of character, personality, and temperament than of intellect.
Perhaps because of his awareness of his own character, he felt that intellectuals generally made poor commanders. Only a self-conscious intellectual, however, was likely to wrestle with a book like On War.
One of the deepest explorations of Clausewitz's intentions is provided by historian Jon Sumida in his Decoding Clausewitz: University Press of Kansas, Sumida's interpretation is discussed below under the heading "Clausewitz on History and Military History.
Sumida asks whether it was Clausewitz's goal to provide a phenomenology of war—that is to say, a description of the essential nature of armed conflict—or to suggest some other route to understanding the problem.
These are important distinctions; Sumida emphasizes the latter. But Clausewitz was an eclectic thinker who sought to integrate many diverse aspects of the problem, and it is difficult in practice to separate the two goals. On War certainly was not intended to provide a practical "cookbook" for commanders in the field.
That approach is common in military doctrinal writing, and Clausewitz the practical soldier had himself written and taught doctrine during the Napoleonic Wars.
But it was alien to Clausewitz's concept of military theory.Transforming media into collaborative spaces with video, voice, and text commenting. The Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue University houses writing resources and instructional material, and we provide these as a free service of the Writing Lab at Purdue.
Clausewitz's personality has been treated in a great many different ways. To the British military historian Michael Howard he was a "soldier's soldier" who wrote a practical military philosophy aimed at . ClassZone Book Finder. Follow these simple steps to find online resources for your book.
If your computer is equipped with PowerPoint, click on the PowerPoint icon to the right for a brief PowerPoint presentation on Clauses. Click HERE for help with Powerpoint. We use the term “generic essay” to talk about non-specific essay writing tasks. They can be assigned to us in many diverse fields – high school, college or work, as part of pre pharmacy coursework or any asa style paper in general.