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Clausewitz in His Time

Clausewitz in His Time: Essays in the Cultural and Intellectual History of Thinking about War

Peter Paret
Copyright Date: 2015
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 150
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  • Book Info
    Clausewitz in His Time
    Book Description:

    Anything but a detached theorist, Clausewitz was as fully engaged in the intellectual and cultural currents of his time as in its political and military conflicts. Late-eighteenth century thought helped shape the analytic methods he developed for the study of war. The essays in this volume follow his career in a complex military society, together with that of other students of war, both friends and rivals, providing a broad perspective that leads to significant documents so far unknown or ignored. They add to our understanding of Clausewitz's early ideas and their expansion into a comprehensive theory that continues to challenge our thinking about war today.

    eISBN: 978-1-78238-582-0
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vi-viii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-4)

    The six essays in this volume—some new, some previously published and now revised—review Clausewitz’s life, his theories, and the links between them, with particular attention to the culture and thought of his time. The first two studies, both new, together well over half of the text, take a general, comprehensive view of Clausewitz’s life and work. The first discusses Clausewitz as a historical figure, an individual marked by the conditions and events of his time, whose ideas nevertheless continue to have something to say to the present, even as they confront today’s reader with challenges that may not...

  5. 1 Text and Context: Two Paths to Clausewitz
    (pp. 5-17)

    The text ofOn Warand the context in which the work was written, the social, cultural, and political environment as defined by Clausewitz’s experiences, are two separate subjects of study, even as each bears on the other.¹ The biographical information contained in Clausewitz’s letters and service documents, and in the correspondence and memoirs of contemporaries, followed by the findings of nearly two centuries of research and interpretation, tell us a great deal, if still not as much as we would like, of his life and the stages in which he erected the structure of his theoretical perception of war....

  6. 2 A Learned Officer among Others
    (pp. 18-76)

    In 1801, Lieutenant Clausewitz of the 34th Infantry Regiment, having acquired the necessary approval from his commanding officer, applied for admission to the Institute in the Military Sciences for Young Infantry and Cavalry Officers in Berlin, and was accepted. The Institute, founded by Frederick the Great, schooled promising junior officers selected from regiments throughout the army, who attended the Institute for three years in autumn and winter, and returned to their regiments in spring and summer. For the school’s administration and classes a single room in the royal palace had been set aside, signaling both high approbation of its task...

  7. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  8. 3 Frederick the Great as Interpreted by Clausewitz and Schlieffen: Three Phases in the History of Strategy
    (pp. 77-86)

    In the early 1820s some years after he had begun writingOn War, Clausewitz temporarily put the manuscript aside and wroteThe Campaigns of Frederick the Great from 1741 to 1762.¹ To recognize the place that this historical study and the many others he wrote occupy in his work, it is necessary to go back through his life to the first years of his military service. In the eighteenth century men and women grew up quickly, and Clausewitz was only twelve when he joined the 34th Infantry as a lance-corporal, or officer aspirant, in 1792, the year Prussia entered the...

  9. 4 From Ideal to Ambiguity: Johannes von Müller, Clausewitz, and the People in Arms
    (pp. 87-99)

    In its efforts to break down legal divisions in society and extend participation in public aff airs, the French Revolution took war out of the hands of a relatively restricted elite commanding long-serving professionals, and made it the business of the people. The integration of war and society proceeded along a number of ideological and institutional paths: careers were opened to talent; conscription—a more encompassing policy replacing already existing varieties of limited obligations to serve—was introduced, which brought previously protected men into the service; and civilians and soldiers were mobilized against domestic as well as foreign enemies, the...

  10. 5 “Half against My Will, I Have Become a Professor”
    (pp. 100-112)

    After its defeat in the War of 1806 the Prussian Army underwent far-reaching reforms, as part of which the system of military education was restructured and expanded. Some of the major decisions concerning the army’s reorganization were already being implemented when an order of 2 May 1810 determined the new organization of the cadet institutes, established three military schools for ensigns, and founded an academy for “officers qualified for advanced instruction.”¹ Even after French pressure compelled Scharnhorst, the man at the center of the reform efforts, to resign as head of the General War Department, in effect the Ministry of...

  11. 6 Two Historians on Defeat in War and Its Causes
    (pp. 113-126)

    Two historians, one 134 years before the other, serve in wars in which their armies are defeated, and the states for which they fight collapse. They begin immediately to write accounts of the campaigns that have just ended in disaster. That both fought in previous wars and in their writings addressed major historical issues gives them the tools they need. The similarities in their conditions and reactions are remarkable, as are the differences. The earlier historian is twenty-six years old when the war soon to be his subject breaks out in 1806. The other is fifty-three when his country is...

  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 127-130)
  13. Index of Texts
    (pp. 131-132)
  14. Name Index
    (pp. 133-134)