On War by Carl von Clausewitz

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This is the obsolete (but still useful) 1873 translation. The 1976/84 Howard/Paret version is the standard translation today, though for the most accurate text one should consult the 1943 Jolles translation.

On War is the most significant attempt in Western history to understand war, both in its internal dynamics and as an instrument of policy. Since the work’s first appearance in 1832, it has been read throughout the world, and has stimulated generations of soldiers, statesmen, and intellectuals.

Carl von Clausewitz’s On War has been called, “not simply the greatest, but the only truly great book on war.” It is an extraordinary attempt to construct an all-embracing theory of how war works. Its coherence and ambition are unmatched by other military literature. On War is full of sharp observation, biting irony, and memorable phrases, the most famous being, “War is a continuation of politics by other means.”

About the Author
Except for a brief stint in 1812 when he served in the Russian army, Clausewitz spent his whole career, from the age of twelve until his death in 1831, in the Prussian army. He fought in all the major Prussian campaigns against France, and his most fateful experience – the 1806 Battle of Jena-Auerstedt, in which Napoleon destroyed the Prussian army – inspired him to write On War.

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