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Carl Von Clausewitz

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Carl Philipp Gottfried von[1] Clausewitz
June 1, 1780 – November 16, 1831 (aged 51)
in Prussian service, painting by Karl Wilhelm Wach


On War

Place of birth Burg bei MagdeburgPrussia
Place of death BreslauPrussia
Allegiance Kingdom of Prussia Prussia
(1792–1808, 1815–1831)
Russia Russian Empire
Years of service 1792–1831
Rank Major-General
Unit Russian-German Legion
III Corps
Commands held Kriegsakademie
Battles/wars Siege of Mainz
Napoleonic Wars

Carl Philipp Gottfried von Clausewitz[1] (play /ˈklzəvɪts/; June 1, 1780 – November 16, 1831[2]) was a Prussian soldier and German military theorist who stressed the moral and political aspects of war. His most notable work, Vom Kriege (On War), was unfinished at his death.

Clausewitz espoused a romantic conception of warfare, though he also had at least one foot planted firmly in the more rationalist ideas of the EuropeanEnlightenment. He stressed the dialectic of how opposite factors interact, and noting how unexpected new developments unfolding under the «fog of war» called for rapid decisions by alert commanders. Clausewitz saw history as a complex check on abstractions that did not accord with experience. In opposition to Antoine-Henri Jomini he argued war could not be quantified or graphed or reduced to mapwork and graphs. Clausewitz had many aphorisms, of which the most famous is, «War is not merely a political act, but also a political instrument, a continuation of political relations, a carrying out of the same by other means,» a working definition of war which has won wide acceptance.




Clausewitz’s Christian name is sometimes given in non-German sources as Carl Philipp GottliebCarl Maria, or misspelled Karl due to reliance on mistaken source material, conflations with his wife’s name, Marie, or mistaken assumptions about German orthographyCarl Philipp Gottfried appears on Clausewitz’s tombstone and is thus most likely to be the correct version.[3] The tombstone reads:

Hier ruht in Gott
Carl Philipp Gottfried von Clausewitz
koenigl. General-Major u. Inspecteur der Artillerie
geboren 1 Juni 1780
gestorben 16 Nov 1831
Here rests with God
Carl Philipp Gottfried von Clausewitz
In the royal service, Major General and Inspector of the Artillery
Born June 1, 1780
Died November 16, 1831

[edit]Life and military career

Clausewitz was born on June 1, 1780 in Burg bei MagdeburgKingdom of Prussia, the fourth and youngest son of a lower middle-class family. His grandfather, the son of a Lutheran pastor, had been a professor of theology. Clausewitz’s father was once a lieutenant in the Prussian army and held a minor post in the Prussian internal revenue service. Clausewitz entered the Prussian military service at the age of twelve as aLance-Corporal, eventually attaining the rank of Major-General.[4]

Clausewitz served in the Rhine Campaigns (1793–1794) e.g. the Siege of Mainz, when the Prussian army invaded France during the French Revolution, and later served in the Napoleonic Wars from 1806 to 1815. Clausewitz entered the Kriegsakademie in Berlin (also cited variously as «The German War School,» the «Military Academy in Berlin,» and the «Prussian Military Academy») in 1801 (age 21 years), studied the writings of the philosopher Immanuel Kant, and won the regard of General Gerhard von Scharnhorst, the future first chief of staff of the new Prussian Army (appointed 1809). Clausewitz, along with Hermann von Boyen (1771–1848) and Karl von Grolman (1777–1843), were Scharnhorst’s primary allies in his efforts to reform the Prussian army between 1807 and 1814.


Marie von Clausewitz

Clausewitz served during the Jena Campaign as aide-de-camp to Prince August. At the Battle of Jena-Auerstedt on October 14, 1806 – when Napoleon invaded Prussia and defeated the massed Prussian-Saxon army commanded by Karl Wilhelm FerdinandDuke of Brunswick – he was captured, one of the 25,000 prisoners captured that day as the Prussian army disintegrated. He was twenty-six at the time.

Clausewitz was held prisoner in France from 1807 to 1808. Returning to Prussia, he assisted in the reform of the Prussian army and state. He also married the socially prominentCountess Marie von Brühl and socialized with Berlin’s literary and intellectual elite. Opposed to Prussia’s enforced alliance to Napoleon, he left the Prussian army and subsequently served in the Russian army from 1812 to 1813 during the Russian Campaign including at the Battle of Borodino. Like many Prussian officers living in Russia, he joined the Russian-German Legion in 1813. In the service of the Russian Empire, Clausewitz helped negotiate the Convention of Tauroggen (1812), which prepared the way for the coalition of Prussia, Russia, and the United Kingdom that ultimately defeated Napoleon I and his allies.

In 1815, the Russo-German Legion was integrated into the Prussian Army and Clausewitz re-entered Prussian service. He was soon appointed chief of staff to Johann von Thielmann‘s III Corps. In that capacity, he served at the Battle of Ligny and the Battle of Wavre during the Waterloo Campaign in 1815. The Prussians were defeated at Ligny – south of Mont-Saint-Jean and the village of Waterloo – by an army led personally by Napoleon, but Napoleon’s failure to actually destroy the Prussian forces led to his eventual defeat a few days later at the Battle of Waterloo, when the Prussian forces arrived on his right flank late in the afternoon and joined the Anglo-Dutch forces pressing Napoleon’s front.

Clausewitz was promoted to Major-General in 1818 and appointed director of the Kriegsakademie, where he served until 1830. In the latter year, the outbreak of several revolutions around Europe and a crisis in Poland appeared to presage another major European war. Clausewitz was appointed chief-of-staff to the only army Prussia was able to mobilize, which was sent to the Polish border. He subsequently died after commanding the Prussian army’s efforts to construct a ‘cordon sanitaire’ to contain the great Cholera outbreak in 1831 (the first time Cholera had appeared in Europe, causing a continent-wide panic). His widow was left to publish his magnum opus on the philosophy of war posthumously, in 1832 – a book he had started working on in 1816 but had not completed.[5]

[edit]Theory of war

Clausewitz was a professional soldier who participated in numerous military campaigns, but he is famous primarily as a military theorist interested in the examination of war. He wrote a careful, systematic, philosophical examination of war in all its aspects, as he saw it and taught it. The result was his principal work, On War, the West’s premier work on the philosophy of war. It was only partially completed by the time of his death, but just how close to completion it was is a matter of considerable scholarly debate. Clausewitz constantly sought to revise the text, particularly between 1827 and his departure on his last field assignment, to include more material on «people’s war» and forms of war other than between states, but little of this material was included in the published book.[5] Other soldiers before this time had written treatises on various military subjects, but none had undertaken a great philosophical examination of war on the scale of Clausewitz’s and Tolstoy‘s, both of which were inspired by the events of the Napoleonic Era.

Clausewitz’s work is still studied today, demonstrating its continued relevance. More than ten major English-language books focused specifically on his work were published between 2005 and 2010. Lynn Montrosswriting on that topic in War Through the Ages (1960) said; «This outcome…may be explained by the fact that Jomini produced a system of war, Clausewitz a philosophy. The one has been outdated by new weapons, the other still influences the strategy behind those weapons.»

Clausewitz introduced systematic philosophical contemplation into Western military thinking, with powerful implications not only for historical and analytical writing but for practical policy, military instruction, and operational planning. He relied on his own experiences, contemporary writings about Napoleon, and on historical sources. His historiographical approach is evident in his first extended study, written when he was twenty-five, of the Thirty Years War. He rejects the Enlightenment‘s view of the war as a chaotic muddle and instead explains its drawn-out operations by the economy and technology of the age, the social characteristics of the troops, and the commanders’ politics and psychology. In On War, Clausewitz sees all wars as the sum of decisions, actions, and reactions in an uncertain, dangerous context but also as a socio-political phenomenon. He has several definitions, the most famous one being that war is the continuation of politics by other means. He also stressed the complex nature of war which encompasses both the socio-political and the operational and stresses the primacy of state policy.

The word «strategy» had only recently come into usage in Modern Europe, and Clausewitz’s definition is quite narrow: «the use of engagements for the object of war.» Some modern readers find this narrow definition disappointing, but his focus was on the conduct of military operations in war, not on the full range of the conduct of politics in war. Nonetheless, Clausewitz conceived of war as a political, social, and military phenomenon which might–depending on circumstances–involve the entire population of a nation at war. In any case, Clausewitz saw military force as an instrument that states and other political actors use to pursue the ends of policy, in a dialectic between two opposing wills, each with the aim of imposing his policies and will upon his enemy.[6]

Clausewitz’s emphasis on the inherent superiority of the defense suggests that habitual aggressors are likely to wind up failures. However, the inherent superiority of the defense does not mean (obviously) that the defender will always win. There are other asymmetries to be considered. He was interested in cooperation between the regular army and militia or partisan forces, or citizen soldiers, as one possible–sometimes the only possible–method of defense. In the circumstances of the Wars of the French Revolution and Napoleon, which were energized by a rising spirit of nationalism, he emphasized the need for states to involve their entire populations in the conduct of war. This point is especially important, as these wars demonstrated that such energies could be of decisive importance and for a time led to a democratization of the armed forces much as universal suffrage democraticized politics.

While Clausewitz was intensely aware of the value of intelligence at all levels, he was also very skeptical of the accuracy of much military intelligence: «Many intelligence reports in war are contradictory; even more are false, and most are uncertain. … In short, most intelligence is false.» Such skeptical comments, however, apply exclusively to intelligence at the tactical and operational levels; at the strategic and political levels he constantly stressed the requirement for the best possible understanding of what today would be called strategic and political intelligence. His conclusions were influenced by his personal experiences in the Prussian Army, which was often in an intelligence fog due partly to the superior abilities of Napoleon’s system but even more to the nature of war. Clausewitz acknowledges that friction creates enormous difficulties for the realization of any plan, and the «fog of war» hinders commanders from knowing what is happening. It is precisely in the context of this challenge that he develops the concept of military genius, whose capabilities are seen above all in the execution of operations.

[edit]Principal ideas

A young Carl von Clausewitz

Some of the key ideas discussed in On War include:

  • the dialectical approach to military analysis
  • the methods of «critical analysis»
  • the nature of the balance-of-power mechanism
  • the relationship between political objectives and military objectives in war
  • the asymmetrical relationship between attack and defense
  • the nature of «military genius» (involving matters of personality and character, beyond intellect)
  • the «fascinating trinity» (wunderliche Dreifaltigkeit) of war
  • philosophical distinctions between «absolute» or «ideal war,» and «real war»
  • in «real war,» the distinctive poles of a) limited war and b) war to «render the enemy helpless»
  • «war» belongs fundamentally to the social realm—rather than to the realms of art or science
  • «strategy» belongs primarily to the realm of art
  • «tactics» belongs primarily to the realm of science
  • the importance of «moral forces» (more than simply «morale») as opposed to quantifiable physical elements
  • the «military virtues» of professional armies (which do not necessarily trump the rather different virtues of other kinds of fighting forces)
  • conversely, the very real effects of a superiority in numbers and «mass»
  • the essential unpredictability of war
  • the «fog» of war[7]
  • «friction» – the disparity between the ideal performance of units, organisation or systems and their actual performance in real world scenarios (Book I, Chapter VII)
  • strategic and operational «centers of gravity»[8]
  • the «culminating point of the offensive»
  • the «culminating point of victory»

[edit]Interpretation and misinterpretation

Clausewitz used a dialectical method to construct his argument, leading to frequent misinterpretation of his ideas. British military theorist B. H. Liddell Hart contends that the enthusiastic acceptance of thePrussian military establishment – especially Moltke the Elder – of what they believed to be Clausewitz’s ideas, and the subsequent widespread adoption of the Prussian military system worldwide, had a deleterious effect on military theory and practice, due to their egregious misinterpretation of his ideas:

As so often happens, Clausewitz’s disciples carried his teaching to an extreme which their master had not intended. … [Clauswitz’s] theory of war was expounded in a way too abstract and involved for ordinary soldier-minds, essentially concrete, to follow the course of his argument – which often turned back from the direction in which it was apparently leading. Impressed yet befogged, they grasped at his vivid leading phrases, seeing only their surface meaning, and missing the deeper current of his thought.[9]

As described by Christopher Bassford, professor of strategy at the National War College of the United States:

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 a mere continuation of politics by other means,» («Der Krieg ist eine bloße Fortsetzung der Politik mit anderen Mitteln») 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.» His synthesis, which resolves the deficiencies of these two bold statements, says that war is neither «nothing but» an act of brute force nor «merely» a rational act of politics or policy. This synthesis lies in his «fascinating trinity» [wunderliche Dreifaltigkeit]: a dynamic, inherently unstable interaction of the forces of violent emotion, chance, and rational calculation.[2]

Another example of this confusion is the idea that Clausewitz was a proponent of total war as used in the Third Reich’s propaganda in the 1940s. He did not coin the phrase as an ideological ideal – indeed, Clausewitz did not use the term «total war» at all. Rather, he discussed «absolute war» or «ideal war» as the purely logical result of the forces underlying a «pure,» Platonic «ideal» of war. In what Clausewitz called a «logical fantasy,» war cannot be waged in a limited way: the rules of competition will force participants to use all means at their disposal to achieve victory. But in the real world, such rigid logic is unrealistic and dangerous. As a practical matter, the military objectives in real war that support one’s political objectives generally fall into two broad types: «war to achieve limited aims» and war to «disarm» the enemy, that is, «to render [him] politically helpless or militarily impotent.» Thus the complete defeat of one’s enemies may be neither necessary, desirable, nor even possible.

In modern times the reconstruction of Clausewitzian theory has been a matter of some dispute. One analysis was that of Panagiotis Kondylis, a Greek-German writer and philosopher who opposed the interpretations of Raymond Aron, in Penser la Guerre, Clausewitz, and other liberal writers. According to Aron, Clausewitz was one of the very first writers to condemn the militarism of the Prussian general staff and its war-proneness, based on Clausewitz’s argument that «war is a continuation of politics by other means.» In Theory of War, Kondylis claims that this is inconsistent with Clausewitzian thought. He claims that Clausewitz was morally indifferent to war (though this probably reflects a lack of familiarity with Clausewitz personal letters, etc., which demonstrate an acute awareness of war’s tragic aspects) and that his advice regarding politics’ dominance over the conduct of war has nothing to do with pacifistic ideas. For Clausewitz, war is simply a means to the eternal quest for power, of raison d’État in an anarchic and unsafe world.

Other notable writers who have studied Clausewitz’s texts and translated them into English are historians Peter Paret of Princeton University and Sir Michael Howard, and the philosopher, musician, and game theorist Anatol Rapoport. Howard and Paret edited the most widely used edition of On War (Princeton University Press, 1976/1984) and have produced comparative studies of Clausewitz and other theorists, such as Tolstoy. Bernard Brodie‘s A Guide to the Reading of «On War», in the 1976 Princeton translation, expressed his own interpretations of the Prussian’s theories and provided students with an influential synopsis of this vital work.


Despite his death without having completed On War, Clausewitz’ ideas have been widely influential in military theory and have had a strong influence on German military thought. Later Prussian and German generals such as Helmuth Graf von Moltke were clearly influenced by Clausewitz: Moltke’s notable statement that «No campaign plan survives first contact with the enemy» is a classic reflection of Clausewitz’s insistence on the roles of chance, friction, «fog», uncertainty, and interactivity in war.

After 1890 or so, Clausewitz’s influence spread to British thinking as well. One example is naval historian Julian Corbett (1854–1922), whose work reflected a deep if idiosyncratic adherence to Clausewitz’s concepts. Clausewitz had little influence on American military thought before 1945, but influenced MarxEngelsLenin, and Mao, and thus the Communist and Soviet traditions, as Lenin emphasized the inevitability of wars among capitalist states in the age of imperialism and presented the armed struggle of the working class as the only path toward the eventual elimination of war.[10] Because Vladimir Lenin was an admirer of Clausewitz who called him «one of the great military writers», his influence on the Red Army was immense.[11] The Russian historian A.N. Mertsalov commented that «It was an irony of fate that the view in the USSR was that it was Lenin who shaped the attitude towards Clausewitz, and that Lenin’s dictum that war is a continuation of politics is taken from the work of this anti-humanist anti-revolutionary.»[11] Clausewitz directly influenced Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong, who read On War in 1938 and organized a seminar on Clausewitz as part of the educational program for the Party leadership in Yan’an. Thus the «Clausewitzian» content in many of Mao’s writings is not merely second-hand knowledge, via Lenin (as many have supposed), but reflects Mao’s own in-depth study.

The idea that war involves inherent «friction» which distorts, to a greater or lesser degree, all prior arrangements, has become common currency in other fields as well, such as business strategy and sports. The phrase fog of war derives from Clausewitz’s stress on how confused warfare can seem while one is immersed within it.[12] The term center of gravity, used in a specifically military context, derives from Clausewitz’s usage, which he took from Newtonian Mechanics. In US military doctrine, «center of gravity» refers to the basis of an opponent’s power, at either the operational, strategic, or political level, though this is only one aspect of Clausewitz’s own use of the term.

[edit]Late 20th and early 21st century

After 1970, some theorists claimed that nuclear proliferation made Clausewitzian concepts obsolete after a period – the 20th century – in which they dominated the world.[13] John E. Sheppard, Jr., argues that by developing nuclear weapons, state-based conventional armies simultaneously both perfected their original purpose – to destroy a mirror image of themselves – and made themselves obsolete. No two nuclear powers have ever used their nuclear weapons against each other, instead using conventional means or proxy wars to settle disputes. If, hypothetically, such a conflict did in fact occur, presumably both combatants would be effectively annihilated.

The end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century has seen many instances of state armies attempting to suppress insurgenciesterrorism, and other forms of asymmetrical warfare. If Clausewitz focused solely on wars between countries with well-defined armies, as many commentators have argued, then perhaps On War has lost its analytical edge as a tool for understanding war as it is currently fought. This is an ahistorical view, however, for the era of the French Revolution and Napoleon was full of revolutions, rebellions, and violence by «non-state actors»–the war in the French Vendée, the war in Spain, etc. Furthermore, Clausewitz himself wrote a series of “Lectures on Small War” and studied the rebellion in the Vendée 1793-1796 and the Tyrolean uprising of 1809. In his famous “Bekenntnisdenkschrift” of 1812, he called for a “Spanish war in Germany” and laid out a comprehensive guerrilla strategy to be waged against Napoleon. In On War itself he included a famous chapter on “The People in Arms.”

One prominent critic of Clausewitz is the Israeli military historian Martin van Creveld. In his book The Transformation of War,[14] Creveld argued that Clausewitz’s famous «Trinity» of people, army, and government was an obsolete socio-political construct based on the state, which was rapidly passing from the scene as the key player in war, and that he (Creveld) had constructed a new «non-trinitarian» model for modern warfare. Creveld’s work has had great influence. Daniel Moran replied, however, saying ‘The most egregious misrepresentation of Clausewitz’s famous metaphor must be that of Martin van Creveld, who has declared Clausewitz to be an apostle of Trinitarian War, by which he means, incomprehensibly, a war of ‘state against state and army against army,’ from which the influence of the people is entirely excluded.»[15]Christopher Bassford went further, noting that one need only read the paragraph in which Clausewitz defined his Trinity to see «that the words ‘people,’ ‘army,’ and ‘government’ appear nowhere at all in the list of the Trinity’s components…. Creveld’s and Keegan’s assault on Clausewitz’s Trinity is not only a classic ‘blow into the air,’ i.e., an assault on a position Clausewitz doesn’t occupy. It is also a pointless attack on a concept that is quite useful in its own right. In any case, their failure to read the actual wording of the theory they so vociferously attack, and to grasp its deep relevance to the phenomena they describe, is hard to credit.»[16]

Some have gone further and suggested that Clausewitz’s best known aphorism, that war is a continuation of policy by other means, is not only irrelevant today but also inapplicable historically.[17] For an opposing view see Strachan, Hew, and Herberg-Rothe, Andreas, eds. Clausewitz in the Twenty-First Century (2007).[18] Others, however, argue that the essentials of Clausewitz’s theoretical approach remain valid, but that our thinking must adjust to the realities of particular times and places. Knowing that «war is an expression of politics by other means» does us no good unless we use a definition of «politics» which is appropriate to the circumstance and to the cultural proclivities of the combatants in each specific situation; this is especially true when warfare is carried on across a cultural or civilizational divide, and the antagonists do not share as much common background as did many of the participants in the First and Second World Wars.

[edit]In popular culture

  • 1945: In the Horatio Hornblower novel The Commodore, by C. S. Forester, the protagonist meets von Clausewitz during the events surrounding the defence of Riga.
  • 1945: In That Hideous Strength by C. S. Lewis, Lord Feverstone (Dick Devine) defends rudely cutting off another professor by saying «[…] but then I take the Clausewitz view. Total war is the most humane in the long run.»
  • 1955: In Ian Fleming‘s novel MoonrakerJames Bond reflects that he has achieved Clausewitz’s first principle in securing his base, though this base is a relationship for intelligence purposes and not a military installation.
  • 1977: In The Wars by Timothy Findley, a novel about a nineteen-year-old Canadian officer who serves in World War I, one of his fellow soldiers reads Clausewitz’s On War, and occasionally quotes some of its passages.
  • 2000: In the Ethan Stark military science fiction book series by John G. Hemry, Clausewitz is often quoted by Private Mendoza and his father Lieutenant Mendoza to explain events that unfold during the series.
  • 2004: Bob Dylan mentions Clausewitz on pages 41 and 45 of his Chronicles: Volume One, saying he had «a morbid fascination with this stuff,» that «Clausewitz in some ways is a prophet» and reading Clausewitz can make you «take your own thoughts a little less seriously.» Dylan says that Vom Kriege was one of the books he looked through among those he found in his friend’s personal library as a young man playing at The Gaslight Cafe in Greenwich Village.
  • 1962: In the film Lawrence of Arabia, General Allenby (Jack Hawkins) contends to T. E. Lawrence (Peter O’Toole) that «I fight like Clausewitz, you fight like Saxe.» To which Lawrence replies, «We should do very well indeed, shouldn’t we?»
  • 1977: In Sam Peckinpah‘s film Cross of Iron, Feldwebel Steiner (James Coburn) has an ironic conversation in the trenches between hostilities with the advancing Red Army with his comrade, Cpl. Schnurrbart, in which they refer to German philosophers and their views on war. Cpl. Schnurrbart: » …and von Clausewitz said, ‘war is a continuation of state policy by other means.'» «Yes,» Steiner says, overlooking the trenches, » …by other means.»
  • 1995: In the film Crimson Tide, the naval officers of the nuclear submarine have a discussion about the meaning of the quote «War is a continuation of politics by other means.» The executive officer (Denzel Washington) contends that the interpretation of Clausewitz’s ideas by the captain (Gene Hackman) is too simplistic.
  • 2007: In the film Lions for Lambs, during a military briefing in Afghanistan Lt. Col. Falco (Peter Berg) says: «Remember your von Clausewitz: ‘Never engage the same enemy for too long or he will …'», «adapt to your tactics», completes another soldier.[19]
  • 2009: In the film Law Abiding Citizen, Clausewitz is frequently quoted by Clyde Shelton, the main character played by Gerard Butler.

[edit]See also

East German stamp honoring Clausewitz (1980)


  1. a b In German personal names, von is a preposition which approximately means of or from and usually denotes some sort of nobility. While von (always lower case) is part of the family name or territorial designation, not a first or middle name, if the noble is referred to by surname alone in English, use Schiller or Clausewitz or Goethe, not von Schiller, etc.
  2. a b Bassford, Christopher. (2002). «Clausewitz and his Works» Retrieved 2007-06-30.
  3. ^ There is no single «correct» spelling for German names before the early 19th century. Vital records were kept by pastors in their parish records. Different pastors used different spellings and commonly ignored how their predecessor may have spelled the same name. The name of the same individual can be found with different spellings in the same parish record, for example, if one pastor registered his birth and a different one his marriage or his death. It appears that pastors recorded names as they heard them and spelled them as they believed they should be spelled. Pastors treated persons of importance or high status such as nobility or civil or military officials more deferentially. For the names of such persons it can make sense to distinguish between such spellings as «Carl» or «Karl» even then. The situation changed radically in the Napoleonic era when French civil servants introduced greater discipline in keeping vital records in German lands. Spellings of family and given names were «frozen» in whatever state they happened to be in then. It was, however, not unusual for brothers who made their homes in different parishes to have their family names spelled differently. Such variations endure to this day and confound amateur genealogists who are not familiar with the fluidity of German spellings before the Napoleonic reforms. While spellings of names were fluid when Clausewitz was born, they had become firm by the time of his death. That is why it makes sense to accept the spelling of his name as recorded on his tombstone which, presumably, agrees with the vital records of his death.
  4. ^ «Full copy of On War».
  5. a b Smith, Rupert, The Utility of Force, Penguin Books, 2006, page 57
  6. ^ Beatrice Heuser, «Clausewitz’ Ideas of Strategy and Victory», in Andreas Herberg-Rothe and Hew Strachan (eds): Clausewitz in the 21st Century (Oxford University Press, 2007), pp. 132-163.
  7. ^ Clausewitz, Carl von. «On War». Project Gutenberg. pp. Chapter II Section 24. Retrieved 2009-09-25.»Lastly, the great uncertainty of all data in War is a peculiar difficulty, because all action must, to a certain extent, be planned in a mere twilight, which in addition not unfrequently—like the effect of a fog or moonshine—gives to things exaggerated dimensions and an unnatural appearance»
  8. ^ Clausewitz, Carl von. «On War». Project Gutenberg. pp. CHAPTER IX. Retrieved 2009-09-25.
  9. ^ Liddell Hart, B. H. Strategy London:Faber, 1967. Second rev. ed.
  10. ^ Kipp, Joseph W. «Lenin and Clausewitz: the Militarization of Marxism, 1914-1921.» Military Affairs 1985 49(4): 184-191. Issn: 0026-3931. In Jstor]
  11. a b Mertsalov, A.N. “Jomini versus Clausewitz” pages 11-19 from Russia War, Peace and Diplomacy edited by Mark and Ljubica Erickson, London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2004 page 16.
  12. ^ Berkun, Scott (2005). The Art of Project Management. Beijing: OŔeilly. ISBN 0-596-00786-8.
  13. ^ Sheppard, John E., Jr. (September 1990). «On War: Is Clausewitz Still Relevant?». Parameters 20 (3): 85–99.
  14. ^ Martin van Creveld, The Transformation of War: The Most Radical Reinterpretation of Armed Conflict Since Clausewitz (New York: The Free Press, 1991).
  15. ^ Daniel Moran, «Clausewitz on Waterloo: Napoleon at Bay,» in Carl von Clausewitz and Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, On Waterloo: Clausewitz, Wellington, and the Campaign of 1815, ed./trans. Christopher Bassford, Daniel Moran, and Gregory W. Pedlow (, 2010), p.242, n.11.
  16. ^ Christopher Bassford, «Tip-Toe Through the Trinity,»
  17. ^ See for instance John Keegan, A History of Warfare (New York: Knopf, 1993), passim.
  18. ^ See the 16 essays in Hew Strachan and Andreas Herberg-Rothe, eds., Clausewitz in the Twenty-First Century (Oxford University Press, 2007), which is the proceedings of a 2005 conference at Oxford.
  19. ^ «Lions for Lambs script (retrieved 14/06/09)».
Primary sources
  • Clausewitz, Carl von. Historical and Political Writings, ed. Peter Paret and Daniel Moran (1992).
  • Clausewitz, Carl Von (1976, rev.1984). On War. edited and translated by Michael Howard and Peter Paret.. Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-05657-9.
  • Clausewitz, Carl von. On War, abridged version translated by Michael Howard and Peter Paret, edited with an introduction by Beatrice Heuser Oxford World’s Classics (Oxford University Press, 2007) ISBN 978-0-19-954002-0
  • Clausewitz, Carl von. Col. J. J. Graham, translator. Vom KriegeOn War — Volume 1Project Gutenberg eBook. The full text of the 1873 English translation can be seen in parallel with the original German text at[1]
  • Clausewitz, Karl von. On War. Trans. O.J. Matthijs Jolles. New York: Random House, 1943. Though not currently the standard translation, this is increasingly viewed by some Clausewitz scholars as the best English translation.
  • Clausewitz, Carl von, and Wellesley, Arthur (First Duke of Wellington), ed./trans. Christopher Bassford, Gregory W. Pedlow, and Daniel Moran, On Waterloo: Clausewitz, Wellington, and the Campaign of 1815. (, 2010). This collection of documents includes, in a modern English translation, the whole of Clausewitz’s study, The Campaign of 1815: Strategic Overview (Berlin: 1835). ISBN 1-453-7015-08. It also includes Wellington’s reply to Clausewitz’s discussion of the campaign.
Secondary sources
  • Aron, Raymond. Clausewitz: Philosopher of War. (1985). 418 pp.
  • Bassford, ChristopherClausewitz in English: The Reception of Clausewitz in Britain and America, 1815-1945. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994. Full text on-line here.
  • Echevarria, Antulio J., II. After Clausewitz: German Military Thinkers before the Great War. (2001). 346 pp.
  • Echevarria, Antulio J., II. Clausewitz and Contemporary War (2007) excerpt and text search
  • Gat, Azar. The Origins of Military Thought from the Enlightenment to Clausewitz (1989)
  • Handel, Michael I., ed. Clausewitz and Modern Strategy. 1986. 324 pp.
  • Handel, Michael I. Masters of War: Classical Strategic Thought. (2001) 482 pages. Based on comparison of Clausewitz’s On War with Sun Tzu’s The Art of War
  • Heuser, Beatrice. Reading Clausewitz. (2002). 238 pages, ISBN 0-7126-6484-X
  • Heuser, Beatrice. «Small Wars in the Age of Clausewitz: Watershed between Partisan War and People’s War»Journal of Strategic Studies, Vol. 33 No.1 (Feb. 2010), pp. 137–160 .
  • Holmes, Terence M. «Planning Versus Chaos in Clausewitz’s On War.» Journal of Strategic Studies 2007 30(1): 129-151. Issn: 0140-2390 Fulltext: EBSCO
  • Keegan, JohnA History of Warfare (London: Hutchinson, 1993). See critique of Keegan’s arguments by Christopher Bassford, «John Keegan and the Grand Tradition of Trashing Clausewitz: A Polemic,» War in History, November 1994, pp.319-336.
  • Kinross, Stuart. Clausewitz and America: Strategic thought and practice from Vietnam to Iraq. (London: Routledge, 2009.)
  • Liddell Hart, B. H. Strategy London:Faber, 1967. Second rev. ed.
  • Mertsalov, A.N. “Jomini versus Clausewitz” pages 11–19 from Russia War, Peace and Diplomacy edited by Mark and Ljubica Erickson, London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2004, ISBN 0297849131.
  • Muhm, Gerhard. German Tactics in the Italian Campaign
  • Paret, Peter. Clausewitz and the State: The Man, His Theories, and His Times. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1976.
  • Paret, Peter. «From Ideal to Ambiguity: Johannes von Müller, Clausewitz, and the People in Arms.» Journal of the History of Ideas 2004 65(1): 101-111. Issn: 0022-5037 Fulltext: Project Muse
  • Rogers, Clifford J. «Clausewitz, Genius, and the Rules»The Journal of Military History, Vol. 66, No. 4. (2002), pp. 1167–1176.
  • Rothfels, Hans “Clausewitz” pages 93–113 from The Makers of Modern Strategy edited by Edward Mead Earle, Gordon A. CraigFelix Gilbert, Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1943.
  • Smith, Hugh. On Clausewitz: A Study of Military and Political Ideas. (2005). 303 pp.
  • Strachan, Hew, and Andreas Herberg-Rothe, eds. Clausewitz in the Twenty-First Century (2007) excerpt and text search
  • Sumida, Jon Tetsuro. «On the Relationship of History and Theory in on War: the Clausewitzian Ideal and its Implications» Journal of Military History 2001 65(2): 333-354. Issn: 0899-3718
  • Villacres, Edward J. and Bassford, Christopher. «Reclaiming the Clausewitzian Trinity». Parameters, Autumn 95, pp. 9–19,
  • Wallach, Jehuda L. The Dogma of the Battle of Annihilation: The Theories of Clausewitz and Schlieffen and Their Impact on the German Conduct of Two World Wars. (1986).

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