Carl Von Clausewitz's On War: A modern-day interpretation of a strategy classic

Carl Von Clausewitz's On War: A modern-day interpretation of a strategy classic

by Andrew Holmes

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Carl Von Clausewitz's On War: A modern-day interpretation of a strategy classic by Andrew Holmes

Soldier and intellectual Carl von Clausewitz first entered combat at the tender age of thirteen. He later rose to the rank of Major General, married into the Prussian nobility and wrote a book which was to become one of the most influential works on military strategy ever published. On War is one of the first books on modern military strategy. Writing mostly after the Napoleonic wars, between 1816 and 1830, von Clausewitz never lived to see it published. He had a theory that it was the integration of political, societal and economic issues that was the most important factor in deciding the outcome of a war. This new theory made On War one of the most important texts on strategy ever written. On War has been translated into practically every major language and remains a source of inspiration for modern strategic thinkers. In this fascinating new interpretation, Andrew Holmes illustrates how von Clausewitz’s ideas can be applied to contemporary business. Readers will discover: • Why business, like war, is neither an art nor a science; • How to ‘fortify’ their business; • The importance of a strong commander; • The secrets of being ruthless; • Why they should bypass their smart phones and open up the lines of communication. By re-interpreting von Clausewitz’s original theories, Holmes demonstrates that On War is not just about the battlefield. This clear, concise and waffle-free book shows how you can treat life like a military operation and steer your troops in the right direction in the world of business. Andrew Holmes’ Carl von Clausewitz’s On War illustrates the timeless nature of von Clausewitz’s insights by bringing them to life with modern examples and business case studies. This brilliant interpretation of On War is an entertaining accompaniment to one of the most famous strategy books ever written.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781908189615
Publisher: Infinite Ideas Ltd
Publication date: 01/31/2010
Series: Infinite Success
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 120
File size: 324 KB

Table of Contents

Introduction 1. War as an act of human intercourse 2. The knowledge required in war is very simple 3. Theory should be study, not doctrine 4. On historical examples 5. War is never an isolated act 6. The effect of the political aim on the military objective 7. The character of contemporary warfare 8. General survey 9. Relationship between the branches of the service 10. The order of battle 11. Base of operations 12. Lines of communication 13. Maintenance and supply 14. Method and routine 15. Terrain 16. Fortresses 17. Billets 18. Moral factors 19. On military genius 20. The thirst for fame and honour 21. On danger 22. Boldness 23. Perseverance 24. Cunning 25. Surprise 26. Military virtues of the army 27. Other emotional factors 28. The nature of battle today 29. Mutual agreement to fight 30. Advanced guards and outposts 31. Operational use of advanced corps 32. Concentration of forces in space 33. Unification of forces in time 34. The strategic reserve 35. Maximum use of force 36. Relative strength 37. Superiority of numbers 38. The dynamic law 39. War plans 40. Critical analysis 41. Friction in war 42. Intelligence in war 43. The battle: its decision 44. Duration of the engagement 45. The effects of victory 46. Strategic means of exploiting victory 47. The command of heights 48. The key to the country 49. Types of resistance 50. The character of strategic defence 51. Retreat after a lost battle 52. Retreat to the interior of the country Reference material Index


Typically, the only people who get to read Carl von Clausewitz are military historians and budding army cadets. The simple reason for this is that they have to; it’s part of their training. Von Clausewitz’s book On War is a classic – of that, there is no doubt – but we must remember that it was never truly finished. In fact, his wife published the work in 1832, a year after he died, so he didn’t even get the chance to show off to his friends and family. Reading this volume which is divided into eight books, or should I say wading through, is difficult and it seems very little, if any, editing was done on the manuscript prior to publication. I am not alone in this thinking as many of those who picked up On War when it was first published were of the same opinion. And if only to prove how unpopular a read it was, it didn’t even exhaust the first print run of 1,500 copies after 20 years. But to be fair, von Clausewitz had every intention not only of finishing the book but also reviewing, revising and updating before sending it to his publisher (as all good authors should, of course), so we should cut the guy some slack. I am also convinced that his wife and indeed the publisher had no idea what he was writing about, so just published whatever there was. Still, von Clausewitz was a bit of a genius and On War retains its pre-eminence in military thinking. Von Clausewitz began jotting down his thoughts, observations and ideas about war while still in his early twenties and throughout his military career in the Prussian army he continued to add to these notes. He served in a number of major campaigns and his thinking was heavily influenced by the actions of Napoleon and his experiences during the Napoleonic Wars. Although von Clausewitz served in the army and was even a prisoner of war for a time, he was really a thinker who studied war to a depth that no one else had ever done before. And he studied it to such a degree that many failed to see the gems hidden deep inside the detail. Fortunately, enough people did read the work, and with a bit of editing, his observations, advice and genius shone through. As a result, On War has heavily influenced military thinking ever since. Creating a modern-day, business-focused interpretation has been an interesting challenge. On first blush you might think that war is war and business is business, but trawling through von Clausewitz’s tome, quite a few similarities can be noticed. In fact, there is plenty of helpful advice that can be applied to the business world. Naturally, there are occasions when it is somewhat impossible to see how this thinking might relate to business, such as when von Clausewitz addresses the nature of war in mountains or swamps. Believe me, I did my best to find something, but in the end I couldn’t and so I focused instead on those elements of his book that are relevant to commerce. To make it a little easier, I have structured this book into broad themes, which makes his advice simpler to understand and also to apply. So, I hope you find this book interesting, useful – and less painful to read than the original! Who knows, after this, you might even want to read On War for yourself.

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