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The Art of War by Baron De Jomini was considered by most military experts of the day, at the time of the American Civil War, to be the definitive work on strategy and warfare. Even today, it is highly regarded as a seminal work in the development of strategy.


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The Art of War by Baron De Jomini was considered by most military experts of the day, at the time of the American Civil War, to be the definitive work on strategy and warfare. Even today, it is highly regarded as a seminal work in the development of strategy.

30 review for The Art of War

  1. 4 out of 5

    Steven Peterson

    The Baron Antoine Henri de Jomini's "The Art of War" is an early classic on military strategy and tactics. With von Clausewitz, he was one of the more widely read scholars on the subject in the 19th century. His book tends to have an abstract, scholarly air to it that suggests that he was more of an "arm chair" theorist than a man whom he learned much from--Napoleon Bonaparte. Napoleon may have had general perspectives on warfare, but he was also someone who was able to be improvisational on the The Baron Antoine Henri de Jomini's "The Art of War" is an early classic on military strategy and tactics. With von Clausewitz, he was one of the more widely read scholars on the subject in the 19th century. His book tends to have an abstract, scholarly air to it that suggests that he was more of an "arm chair" theorist than a man whom he learned much from--Napoleon Bonaparte. Napoleon may have had general perspectives on warfare, but he was also someone who was able to be improvisational on the battlefield, and Jomini cannot quite capture that in this work. Nonetheless, a classic. Jomini argued that: "Strategy decodes where to act; logistics brings the troops to this point; grand tactics determines the manner of execution and the employment of the troops." As Jomini's actual work begins, he identifies the six key components of the art of war: "1. Statesmanship in its relation to war. 2. Strategy, or the art of properly directing masses upon the theater of war, either for defense or for invasion. 3. Grant tactics. 4. Logistics, or the art of moving armies. 5. Engineering--the attack and defense of fortifications. 6. Minor tactics." The book itself, then, considers these elements of the art of war. No need to go into great detail. But some general points are in order. At one point, he emphasizes the importance of "lines"--interior lines, where one side has a more compact line and can move troops from one point to another with greater facility than the enemy; exterior lines, which are longer. If a smaller force, interior lines are critical; if a larger force, exterior lines may prove no impediment to success. One facet of this book is his diagrams depicting various orders of attack (pages 188 and following). This tends, as noted earlier, to be pretty abstract. One hesitates to think that officers in the heat of combat will intellectually assess the various orders of attack and rationally choose one over another. Among these are straight linear orders (where the two forces approach one another in straight lines) to "en echelon" attacks, where the lines are arrayed in depth. He notes in his conclusion that: "War in its ensemble in not a science, but an art." So, if one might be interested in an analysis of military strategy and tactics from the early part of the 19th century, this is not a bad starting point. It is a classic on the subject, and, even if too abstract and academic, can be a useful book to understand the military in that era.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Blue Morse

    Jomini’s Art of War, written in the 19th Century after observing and serving in the many Napoleonic Wars, has undoubtably had the most influential impact on current US military doctrine. It’s fascinating how much of what Jomini wrote in this book echoes the 21st Century tactical and operational considerations that I’ve experienced first-hand in my career. I also found Jomini very easy to read and extremely practical, unlike the philosophical and contradictory ramblings of Clausewitz. I love his s Jomini’s Art of War, written in the 19th Century after observing and serving in the many Napoleonic Wars, has undoubtably had the most influential impact on current US military doctrine. It’s fascinating how much of what Jomini wrote in this book echoes the 21st Century tactical and operational considerations that I’ve experienced first-hand in my career. I also found Jomini very easy to read and extremely practical, unlike the philosophical and contradictory ramblings of Clausewitz. I love his subtle spear to the Clausewitz camp when he concludes: “Shall I be understood as saying that there are no such things as tactical rules, and that no theory of tactics can be useful? What military man of intelligence would be guilty of such an absurdity? ... Shall a theory be pronounced absurd because it has only three-fourths of the whole number of chances in its favor?” It has been said with good reason that “many Civil War General went into battle with a sword in one hand and Jomini’s Summary of the Art of War in the other.” I would argue that the 21st Century General, whether he realizes it’s in his hand or not, still goes into battle on the coattails of this book.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    As with Mahan's "Influence of Sea Power," I won't try to review Jomini's actual work (nor am I really fit to do so), beyond noting that Jomini's influence on the American way of war has been vastly underestimated. This particular translation, in fact, was made at West Point in 1862, as America was in the second year of the Civil War, and other renditions of Jomini had been studied by West Pointers before that time. A curious mixture of dated material and what are likely timeless truths (much lik As with Mahan's "Influence of Sea Power," I won't try to review Jomini's actual work (nor am I really fit to do so), beyond noting that Jomini's influence on the American way of war has been vastly underestimated. This particular translation, in fact, was made at West Point in 1862, as America was in the second year of the Civil War, and other renditions of Jomini had been studied by West Pointers before that time. A curious mixture of dated material and what are likely timeless truths (much like Mahan). As Jomini himself notes, technology and tactics change; people, politics, and strategy tend not to. Being an 1862 translation, the language is perhaps a little more florid than a modern translator would make it; but this is very much the kind of translation that had a direct effect on American military thought.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Howard Anders

    Read the "Art of War" for class. The author, a Swiss national, served in Napoleon's Grande Armee. The "Art of War" is essentially Jomini's take on what made Napoleon so successful. Previously, during the Age of Reason, European armies were essentially the discrete playthings of kings, like Louis XIV and Frederick the Great. The French Revolution changed all that; armies became national. Revolutionary France became a "nation in arms" to defend their Revolution against the kings of Europe. Jomini' Read the "Art of War" for class. The author, a Swiss national, served in Napoleon's Grande Armee. The "Art of War" is essentially Jomini's take on what made Napoleon so successful. Previously, during the Age of Reason, European armies were essentially the discrete playthings of kings, like Louis XIV and Frederick the Great. The French Revolution changed all that; armies became national. Revolutionary France became a "nation in arms" to defend their Revolution against the kings of Europe. Jomini's "Art of War" was taught to several generations of West Point cadets, including many of our Civil War leaders.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Robotspider

    There's a reason this book has been re-imagined for business, love, life, pet-ownership, etc. etc. If you have half-a-brain, you can draw these conclusions yourself from the translated sources material. Half poetry, half military tactical manual. So relevant today, it's hard to believe it was written 2000+ years ago.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Brennan Trainor

    The Art of War is a fantastic read, not only is it interesting to see Sun Tzu's work, but that of a later general who wrote about the tactics. At times the transition from Sun Tzu to the writer's voice was a bit jarring. Overall however, the book was a challenge to read due to what seemed to be an older writer style. But that only makes the book more appealing to myself, it is fascinating to learn what phrases used to have equal meaning to simpler terms we use today. I suggest anyone who has not The Art of War is a fantastic read, not only is it interesting to see Sun Tzu's work, but that of a later general who wrote about the tactics. At times the transition from Sun Tzu to the writer's voice was a bit jarring. Overall however, the book was a challenge to read due to what seemed to be an older writer style. But that only makes the book more appealing to myself, it is fascinating to learn what phrases used to have equal meaning to simpler terms we use today. I suggest anyone who has not read this book to do so.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Rob Markley

    Jomini is a good thinker and analyst and really there is no undue anti Napoleon bias as some would suggest. Not everything he has to say might be agreed with but the thoughts are definitely worth engaging with nonetheless

  8. 4 out of 5

    Francesco

    I PERSONALLY found Clausewitz to be all around better. Yet, there are a few things in which the swissman shines, mainly for what concerns the tactical and operational level of war. A must-read for historical and military buffs

  9. 4 out of 5

    Colin Darby

    Read during "armed intellectual" phase. Thought it was too non-specific and hand-wavy, unlike Clausewitz. My opinion and knowledge base have grown since then, so I've come to appreciate both Jomini and Sun Tzu somewhat more.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Dina

    Not a good writer...too many words, tends to jump from thought to though. Def-ly valuable information for war strategists but you will break your head because of poor writing.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Adrian

    War it never change.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Roger Burk

    It's said that every aspiring general in the Civil War had a copy of Jomini in his backpack. He does seem to write from a basis of good sense and much experience on the state of the operational and grand-tactical levels of war in the second quarter of the nineteenth century. However, it will help you reading this book if you are intimately familiar will all European campaigns and battles in the period 1700-1815, for that is where Jomini gets all the examples he mentions. He gives careful conside It's said that every aspiring general in the Civil War had a copy of Jomini in his backpack. He does seem to write from a basis of good sense and much experience on the state of the operational and grand-tactical levels of war in the second quarter of the nineteenth century. However, it will help you reading this book if you are intimately familiar will all European campaigns and battles in the period 1700-1815, for that is where Jomini gets all the examples he mentions. He gives careful consideration to some topics no longer of much interest, such as whether cavalry should be armed with sabers or lances, what kind of breastplate they should wear, and how they should form up to charge.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Alan

    I read this as part of my War Studies course way back in 1979. Now have my own copy. It's a bit more practical than Clausewitz, in other words it deals more with the conduct of war than the theory. This makes it seem a little more dated than Clausewitz, but only if you believe the Clausewitzian theory, which is very much based on 'war by the nation-state'. Jomini is the book for the Napoleonic wargamer! Or the student of Napoleonic military strategy and tactics. I'm still technically reading this I read this as part of my War Studies course way back in 1979. Now have my own copy. It's a bit more practical than Clausewitz, in other words it deals more with the conduct of war than the theory. This makes it seem a little more dated than Clausewitz, but only if you believe the Clausewitzian theory, which is very much based on 'war by the nation-state'. Jomini is the book for the Napoleonic wargamer! Or the student of Napoleonic military strategy and tactics. I'm still technically reading this, though it's been put to my 'pending more time' section of the shelf.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kristin King

    The version I read had commentary on what was meant by the writings according to various Chinese generals and such as well as examples that ranged from the ancient to Hannibal, Stonewall Jackson and such. Still, this was not a very engaging read considering its classic status. My secondary purpose was to collect quotable phrases, and that I did. (Bob Sutton's rendition of Lionel Giles' translation along with the the Samuel B. Griffith text with "voluminous notes along with numerous footnotes." Fo The version I read had commentary on what was meant by the writings according to various Chinese generals and such as well as examples that ranged from the ancient to Hannibal, Stonewall Jackson and such. Still, this was not a very engaging read considering its classic status. My secondary purpose was to collect quotable phrases, and that I did. (Bob Sutton's rendition of Lionel Giles' translation along with the the Samuel B. Griffith text with "voluminous notes along with numerous footnotes." Formulated for the casual reader rather than Chinese scholar or even speaker.)

  15. 5 out of 5

    Hello_ripper

    Considering this book is a classic, I found it to be a bit slow and boring. The book is quite short and straightforward, but some parts can definitely be condensed. Then again, the text is translated, so editing it too much would not be true to the original. I read it because many say the strategies are applicable to business management. I can see some of the points working, which others may need some stories/comparisons for me to get the picture. I personally did not enjoy the book, so it seems Considering this book is a classic, I found it to be a bit slow and boring. The book is quite short and straightforward, but some parts can definitely be condensed. Then again, the text is translated, so editing it too much would not be true to the original. I read it because many say the strategies are applicable to business management. I can see some of the points working, which others may need some stories/comparisons for me to get the picture. I personally did not enjoy the book, so it seems unfair to give it 1 star.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Martin

    This is a hard but riveting read. This is THE book that encapsulates the lessons of the Napoleonic wars. The Author was a staff officer under Napoleon, and on Regimental service throughout the period as well. This is the book that every Civil War General had probably read in the French original, but it includes several later other amendments. Lots to digest -but it is MUST-READ for any fan of the period, Military Strategy and Tactics, and especially Wargamers. Not a quick read- but well worth it This is a hard but riveting read. This is THE book that encapsulates the lessons of the Napoleonic wars. The Author was a staff officer under Napoleon, and on Regimental service throughout the period as well. This is the book that every Civil War General had probably read in the French original, but it includes several later other amendments. Lots to digest -but it is MUST-READ for any fan of the period, Military Strategy and Tactics, and especially Wargamers. Not a quick read- but well worth it...

  17. 5 out of 5

    Nate Huston

    There's a lot of Clausewitz running through Jomini's thoughts. Spends most of Chapter 3 talking about operational level strategy - lines of operation and strategic movement. Valuable, but in the general sense. Lines of operation and the movement of large armies will most likely never be my forte. That said, the definition of various terms such as lines of operation, strategic lines and the function and interplay of bases of operation are a key contribution.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Rob

    Only edition of this classic I've read, so I can't compare it to others. The book itself contain much of historical and philosophical interest. I have a feeling I'll be rereading various parts as time goes by.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Robert Palmer

    This is one of the great classics of western military thinking. It is one of many books I read during the time that I served as an officer in the U.S. Army. For more, please see my review of On War by von Clausewitz.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jeffry

    Tough going ... but ya gotta do it I supose.

  21. 5 out of 5

    David

    A must read for anyone in business and management. I have to re-read this book as it is one of the harder reads.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Rick F.

    Highly influential even today! Jomini and Clausewitz offer two different looks at the nature of war and how it is fought. Both are important and should be studied together.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Salvador Noguera

    Very interesting book. Complex and very detailed, but definitely a MUST READ in Military Strategy.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Cory

    A+++++

  25. 4 out of 5

    David Doyle

    A have to read for everyone.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    This was an interesting, but exhausting read...good book to read at least once, perhaps twice.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Senthil

    If Stannis Baratheon, from the house of Baratheon, the first of his men, the true king of seven kingdoms, the Lord of Dragonstone had read this he could not have lost the battles :)

  28. 5 out of 5

    Joe

    Fascinating instruction on how to lead men in war. Most practical 100 years ago, yet still relevant. Might be a great read prior to reading any civil war or napoleonic war story.

  29. 5 out of 5

    David Blaylock

    The more I read classics that are must reads, the more I enjoy the stuff I pick out on my own.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    I hope that I got a bad copy, 35 pages seems short

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