Carl Von Clausewitz

Clausewitz, Karl von

Karl von Clausewitz (kärl fən klou´zəvĬts), 1780–1831, Prussian general and military strategist. Clausewitz was an original thinker most influenced by the Napoleonic wars in which he fought. He served in the Rhine campaigns (1793–94), won the regard of Gerhard von Scharnhorst at the Berlin Military Academy, and served in the wars against Napoleon I. In the service of Russia from 1812 until 1814, he helped negotiate the convention of Tauroggen (1812), which prepared the way for the alliance of Prussia, Russia, and Great Britain against Napoleon. Later he reentered the Prussian army, played an important role at Waterloo, and was appointed (1818) director of the Prussian war college. His masterpiece On War was unfinished and was published posthumously. Written in a dialectic style influenced by Hegel and subject to varying interpretations, it remains influential. Clausewitz argued that although most conflicts tend toward total war in the abstract, the "friction" of reality keeps war limited, unpredictable, and dangerous. His most famous dictum, that war "is merely the continuation of policy by other means," emphasizes his conception of war as one part of normal and pragmatic politics. At the same time, he stressed the need to strive for the most complete military victories possible, using whatever reasonable resources were available. While his work echoes themes from the ancient text The Art of War, attributed to Sun Tzu, and even more from the work of Machiavelli, Clausewitz has influenced many 20th-century strategists and historians, especially Bernard Brodie. See strategy and tactics.

See P. Paret, Clausewitz and the State (1976).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

On War
Karl von Clausewitz; O. J. Matthijs Jolles.
Infantry Journal Press, 1950
Clausewitz on Strategy: Inspiration and Insight from a Master Strategist
Tiha Von Ghyczy; Bolko Von Oetinger; Christopher Bassford.
Wiley, 2001
Clausewitz and African War: Politics and Strategy in Liberia and Somalia
Isabelle Duyvesteyn.
Routledge, 2004
Modern Strategy
Colin S. Gray.
Oxford University Press, 1999
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 3 "The Strategist's Toolkit: The Legacy of Clausewitz"
Military Education: Past, Present, and Future
Gregory C. Kennedy; Keith Neilson.
Praeger, 2002
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 2 "Educating Bellona: Carl von Clausewitz and Military Education"
Southern Trident: Strategy, History, and the Rise of Australian Naval Power
David Stevens; John Reeve.
Allen & Unwin, 2001
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 3 "History and Theory: The Clausewitzian Ideal and Its Implications"
Strategic Logic and Political Rationality: Essays in Honor of Michael I. Handel
Brandford A.Lee; Karl F.Walling; Michael I. Handel.
Frank Cass, 2003
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 12 "Clausewitz and the Two Contemporary Military Revolutions: RMA and RAM"
European Armies and the Conduct of War
Hew Strachan.
Routledge, 1991
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 7 "Clausewitz and the Rise of Prussian Military Hegemony"
The Eagle in the Desert: Looking Back on U.S. Involvement in the Persian Gulf War
William Head; Earl H. Tilford Jr.
Praeger, 1996
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 12 "Clausewitz's On War and the Gulf War"
Strategic Thinking: An Introduction and Farewell
Philip Windsor; Mats Berdal; Spyros Economides.
Lynne Rienner, 2002
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 4 "The Political Context of Strategy: Clausewitz"
The Pursuit of Victory: From Napoleon to Saddam Hussein
Brian Bond.
Oxford University Press, 1998
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 3 "The Napoleonic Legacy: The Influence of Jomini and Clausewitz"
Lieutenants: The Evolution of Political Styles
Michael Maher.
Praeger, 1990
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 4 "Carl von Clausewitz"
World Military Leaders: A Collective and Comparative Analysis
Mostafa Rejai; Kay Phillips.
Praeger Publishers, 1996
Librarian’s tip: "Carl von Clausewitz" begins on p. 89
The Ongoing Civil War: New Versions of Old Stories
Herman Hattaway; Ethan S. Rafuse.
University of Missouri Press, 2004
Librarian’s tip: "McClellan, von Clausewitz, and the Politics of War" begins on p. 40
The Tragic Vision of Politics: Ethics, Interests, and Orders
Richard Ned Lebow.
Cambridge University Press, 2003
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