"There are cases in which the greatest daring is the greatest wisdom": FIRST EDITION IN ENGLISH OF ARGUABLY THE MOST IMPORTANT TREATISE ON POLITICAL-MILITARY ANALYSIS AND STRATEGY EVER WRITTEN; CARL VON CLAUSEWITZ'S ON WAR
VON CLAUSEWITZ, Carl Philipp Gottfried.
Item Number: 127055
London: N. Trubner & Co., 1873.
First edition in English of arguably the most important treatise on political-military analysis and strategy ever written. Small quarto, three volumes complete in one, original cloth, frontispiece portrait of Clausewitz. Translated by Colonel J. J. Graham from the third German edition. In near fine condition. From the library of Lt. Colonel Walter Pipon Braithwaite with his bookplate and ownership signature. General Sir Walter Pipon Braithwaite was a British Army officer who held senior commands during the First World War. After being dismissed from his position as Chief of Staff for the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, he received some acclaim as a competent divisional commander on the Western Front. After the war, he was commissioned to produce a report analyzing the performance of British staff officers during the conflict. Additional bookplates and period photograph adhered to the front free endpaper. Exceedingly rare, particularly in the original cloth, with only two other copies located in auction records over the past 50 years.
Utilizing the campaigns of Frederick the Great and Napoleon as frames of reference for his work, Prussian general and military theorist Carl von Clausewitz's principle work, On War, offers a careful, systematic, philosophical examination of war in all its aspects. Primarily written between 1816 and 1830, following the Napoleonic wars, the work was published posthumously by Clausewitz' wife Marie von Brühl in 1832 1832-34, as the first three volumes of Clausewitz' Collected Works. Clausewitz constantly sought to revise the text, particularly between 1827 and his departure on his last field assignments, to include more material on "people's war" and forms of war other than high-intensity warfare between states, but relatively little of this material was included in the book. Soldiers before this time had written treatises on various military subjects, but none had undertaken a great philosophical examination of war on the scale of those written by Clausewitz and Leo Tolstoy, both of whom were inspired by the events of the Napoleonic Era. Clausewitz introduced systematic philosophical contemplation into Western military thinking, with powerful implications not only for historical and analytical writing but also for practical policy, military instruction, and operational planning. He relied on his own experiences, contemporary writings about Napoleon, and on deep historical research. Clausewitz conceived of war as a political, social, and military phenomenon which might——depending on circumstances——involve the entire population of a political entity at war. Key concepts discussed in the work include: the dialectical approach to military analysis, he nature of the balance-of-power mechanism, the nature of "military genius", the "military virtues" of professional armies, strategic and operational "centers of gravity", and the "culminating point of victory". "These thousand pages occupy a unique position among military writings of any age and nation. The book is less a manual of strategy and tactics, although it incorporates the lessons learned from the French revolutionary and Napoleonic wars, than a general inquiry into the interdependence of politics and warfare and the principles governing either or both" (PMM 297). On War arguably constitutes the most important treatise on political-military analysis and strategy ever written and its influence upon systematic strategic thinking remains unsurpassed - as well as controversial.