Book Review: On War

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On War is considered to be one of the best military strategy books in existance – everyone has heard of it, but few actually take time to read it.

That is a shame as Carl von Clausewitz was a 19th century military theorist who drew many of his ideas from his own experience as a Prussian soldier.

Clausewitz’s conception of war is strikingly unique: characterizing it as a Hegelian dialectic of opposing factors which interact and build upon each other,

Clausewitz’s theories are also surprisingly romantic. Nevertheless, the author stresses war as a political action that must be ruthless and uncompromising in its annihilation of the enemy.  This sounds bad, until you recognize that it is necessary for war to be brutal so war can be won.  Wars end faster when they are won decisively.

I like the book On War because it sets forth the ways wars should be fought.  In my mind this means, only when other means are not appropriate and then fought as quickly, brutally, and strategically as possible.While totally devoting a countries entire industrial output to completely destroy another countries ability and will to resist sounds brutal, but in the end, it causes less total suffering and hardship.

What is better to sacrifice a lot for a short time, or half as much for three times as long?  To me (and to General Von Clausewitz) it is simple math.  On War is the formula.


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