On War - title image

Carl von Clausewitz

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NOTE: This version of Carl von Clausewitz's On War is the long-obsolete J.J. Graham translation of Clausewitz's Vom Kriege (1832) published in London in 1873. The 1976/84 Howard/Paret version is the  standard translation today; for the most accurate text one should always consult the 1943 Jolles translation. Consider the more modern versions and other relevant books shown below.

Book Cover, ON WATERLOOOn Waterloo: Clausewitz, Wellington, and the Campaign of 1815. Ed./trans. Christopher Bassford, Daniel Moran, and Gregory W. Pedlow (, 2010). ISBN: 1453701508. This book is built around a new and complete translation of Clausewitz's study of the Waterloo campaign [Berlin: 1835], which is a strategic analysis of the entire campaign (not just the Battle of Waterloo), and the Duke of Wellington's detailed 1842 response to it.

Jolles translation, book coverBuy the best translation—recommended for serious readers. The Book of War (The Modern Library, February 2000). ISBN: 0375754776. Clausewitz's On War and Sun Tzu's Art of War in one volume. The translation of Clausewitz's On War is the 1943 version done by German literary scholar O.J. Matthijs Jolles at the University of Chicago during World War II—not today's standard translation, but certainly the most accurate.

On War, Princeton ed.Buy the standard English translation of Clausewitz's On War, by Michael Howard and Peter Paret  (Princeton University Press, 1976/84). ISBN: 0691018545 (paperback). Kindle edition. This quite readable translation appeared at the close of the Vietnam War and—principally for marketing and copyright reasons—has become the modern standard.

Book coverVanya Eftimova Bellinger, Marie von Clausewitz: The Woman Behind the Making of On War (Oxford University Press, 2015), ISBN: 0190225432. A rich biography of Countess Marie von Clausewitz that also sheds enormous light on the life, ideas, influences upon, and character of the great military thinker himself.


Decreasing Force of the Attack


THIS is one of the principal points in strategy: on its right valuation in the concrete, depends our being able to judge correctly what we are able to do.

The decrease of absolute power arises—

1. Through the object of the attack, the occupation of the enemy's country; this generally commences first after the first decision, but the attack does not cease upon the first decision.

2. Through the necessity imposed on the attacking army to guard the country in its rear, in order to preserve its line of communication and means of subsistence.

3. Through losses in action and through sickness.

4. Distance of the various depôts of supplies and reinforcements.

5. Sieges and blockades of fortresses.

6. Relaxation of efforts.

7. Secession of allies.

But frequently, in opposition to these weakening causes, there may be many others which contribute to strengthen the attack. It is clear, at all events, that a net result can only be obtained by comparing these different quantities; thus, for example, the weakening of the attack may be partly or completely compensated, or even surpassed by the weakening of the defensive. This last is a case which rarely happens; we cannot always bring into the comparison any more forces than those in the immediate front or at decisive points, not the whole of the forces in the field.—Different examples: The French in Austria and Prussia, in Russia; the allies in France, the French in Spain.


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