The Book that Changed War

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

Time for another "Book that Changed the World," yet another book I haven't read, but maybe you have. On War by Carl von Clausewitz, a nineteenth century Prussian war general, is considered to be one of the most important books ever written on war strategy, admired by everyone from Hitler to Colin Powell. War strategy's not really one of my leisure-reads, so thanks go to Hew Strachan for cutting to the chase with his book on the tome. Have you read On War? What's your vote for the most essential point of the book?

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Clausewitz, along with Baron Jomini, summarized the strategic concepts unleashed by Napoleon in the early 19th century wars. The basic strategic tenets are still basic to current military thought. The debacle of the Great War was a misunderstanding of the role of technology in modern warfare and how it changed tactics, not strategy.

Sent by Anthony Febles | 2:51 PM | 8-23-2007

"Everything in war is very simple, but the simplest thing is very difficult." Book I, chapter 7: "Friction in War." No other concept Clausewitz discusses is so important, or so often overlooked, as friction--the accumulation of small delays and difficulties that impairs an army's performance and can undermine any plan that doesn't account for it.

Sent by Ken MacLennan | 9:10 PM | 8-27-2007