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In Battling to the End René Girard engages Carl von Clausewitz (1780-1831), the Prussian military theoretician who wrote On War. Clausewitz, who has been critiqued by military strategists, political scientists, and philosophers, famously postulated that "War is the continuation of politics by other means." He also seemed to believe that governments could constrain war.
Clausewitz, a firsthand witness to the Napoleonic Wars, understood the nature of modern warfare. Far from controlling violence, politics follows in war's wake: the means of war have become its ends.
René Girard shows us a Clausewitz who is a fascinated witness of history's acceleration. Haunted by the French-German conflict, Clausewitz clarifies more than anyone else the development that would ravage Europe. Battling to the End pushes aside the taboo that prevents us from seeing that the apocalypse has begun. Human violence is escaping our control; today it threatens the entire planet.
A Note on the Translation vii
Chapter 1 The Escalation to Extremes 1
Chapter 2 Clausewitz and Hegel 27
Chapter 3 Duel and Reciprocity 53
Chapter 4 The Duel and the Sacred 77
Chapter 5 Holderlin's Sorrow 109
Chapter 6 Clausewitz and Napoleon 137
Chapter 7 France and Germany 157
Chapter 8 The Pope and the Emperor 195