On War and Beyond

War is a mere continuation of politics by other means.

Carl von Clausewitz

Conflict has existed as long as humanity has. What qualifies as ‘war,’ however, is often debated. It’s not limited to agricultural or literate societies, nor is it absent from any point in history. Military theorists have attempted to define war and explain why it happens since the earliest days of critical thought. Today, most of our ideas of warfare can be contributed to Carl von Clausewitz.

A painting of a young Carl von Clausewitz wearing his military uniform with his medals.

Carl von Clausewitz was born in Prussia in 1780. He began his military career at the age of 12. During Clausewitz’s life, he fought in many campaigns, including the Rhine Campaigns and the Napoleonic Wars. He was captured after Napoleon’s victory again Prussia at the Battle of Jena-Auerstedt but was eventually released. He refused to fight for Napoleon and instead joined the Imperial Russian Army. In 1812, Clausewitz helped negotiate the Convention of Tauroggen.

Clausewitz’s extensive military experience led him to writing his magnum opus: Vom Kriege. Vom Kriege (On War) is a philosophical examination of war and military theory. We see Clausewitz’s first-hand experiences from the Napoleonic Wars as he attempts to define war, its purpose, and its strategy. Vom Kriege is a critical building-block in military theory and has directly contributed global leaders and governments—for better or for worse—and it is Clausewitz who helped introduce philosophical thought into military thinking.

Vom Kriege touches on modern warfare, but fighting methods today have certainly gone beyond what Clausewitz expected. In his newest book, Beyond Vom Kriege: The Character and Conduct of Modern War, R. D. Hooker, Jr., looks at modern warfare across six American presidential administrations. Like Clausewitz, Hooker’s first-hand experience during these campaigns offers a unique view towards warfare, its intentions, and its successes—or failures.

Beyond Vom Kriege releases globally from the UNG Press on July 21, 2020.

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About Jillian Murphy

Jillian Murphy served as the Assistant Managing Editor of the UNG Press from 2017 to 2021. She is a writer and editor who specializes in kid lit, copyediting, and lame puns. Murphy is a UNG alumna, class of 2016.

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