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Carl von Clausewitz

illustration, What translation of Clausewitz's ON WAR do YOU have?

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NOTE: This version of Carl von Clausewitz's famous treatise On War is a complete version (i.e., it contains all eight books—most on-line versions have only the first four) posting of Colonel J.J. Graham's translation published by Nicholas Trübner in London in 1873. It is derived from the German original, Clausewitz's Vom Kriege (Berlin: Dümmlers Verlag, 3 vols., 1832–34). The 1976/84 Howard/Paret translation from Princeton University Press is the standard English translation today; for the most accurate text one should always consult the Otto Jolles translation, originally done in 1943 at the University of Chicago. For more information on the original German text and on all of the available English translations, click HERE. Please take a look at the relevant books shown below. For a general discussion of the various versions of Vom Kriege/On War available, see, "Which Translation of Clausewitz's On War do you have?" For an advanced and rather complex discussion of some important problems with all of the English translations (including Graham's, H/P's, and Jolles'), see Christopher Bassford, "Clausewitz's Categories of War and the Supersession of 'Absolute War.'"

Book Cover, ON WATERLOOCarl von Clausewitz and Arthur Wellesley, First Duke of Wellington, On 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. Clausewitz's Der Felzug von 1815 was written late in his life and its findings were never incorporated into On War, so most readers will find it new material.

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. Sun Tzu is presented in the modern translation by Roger Ames, based on complete ancient texts found by archaeologists.

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 coverDecoding Clausewitz: A New Approach to On War (University Press of Kansas, 2008). By Jon Tetsuro Sumida. ISBN: 9780700616169. *This is perhaps the most important recent book for anyone seeking to understand Clausewitz's thinking. Sumida contends that Clausewitz's central value lies in his method of reenacting the psychological difficulties of high command in order to promote the powers of intuition that he believed were essential to effective strategic decision-making. Sumida also correctly notes Clausewitz's argument that the defense is a stronger form of war, and goes on to explore the implications of that fact.

Carl von Clausewitz

Clausewitz, On War

trans. COL James John Graham (London: N. Trübner, 1873)


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"Clausewitz and His Works." (This is a contemporary introduction by Christopher Bassford
(originally written 1991, the latest version updated 2023)

Preface to the First Edition by Marie von Clausewitz


The Introduction of the Author

1908 Introduction by Colonel Frederick N. Maude

Information on the 1873 Translator, Colonel J.J. Graham

Some Notes on This Translation



1. What is War?

2. Ends and Means in War

3. The Genius for War

4. On Danger in War

5. On Bodily Exertion in War

6. Information in War

7. Friction in War

8. Concluding Remarks



1. Branches of the Art of War

2. On the Theory of War

3. Art or Science of War

4. Methodicism

5. Criticism

6. On Examples



1. Strategy

2. Elements of Strategy

3. Moral Forces

4. The Chief Moral Powers

5. Military Virtue of an Army

6. Boldness

7. Perseverance

8. Superiority of Numbers

9. The Surprise

10. Stratagem

11. Assembly of Forces in Space

12. Assembly of Forces in Time

13. Strategic Reserve

14. Economy of Forces

15. Geometrical Element 

16. On the Suspension of the Act in War

17. On the Character of Modern War

18. Tension and Rest



1. Introductory

2. Character of a Modern Battle

3. The Combat in General

4. The Combat in General (continuation)

5. On the Signification of the Combat

6. Duration of Combat

7. Decision of the Combat

8. Mutual Understanding as to a Battle

9. The Battle

10. Effects of Victory

11. The Use of the Battle

12. Strategic Means of Utilising Victory

13. Retreat After a Lost Battle

14. Night Fighting



1. General Scheme

2. Theatre of War, Army, Campaign

3. Relation of Power

4. Relation of the Three Arms

5. Order of Battle of an Army

6. General Disposition of an Army

7. Advanced Guard and Out-Posts

8. Mode of Action of Advanced Corps

9. Camps

10. Marches

11. Marches (continued)

12. Marches (continued)

13. Cantonments

14. Subsistence

15. Base of Operations

16. Lines of Communication

17. On Country and Ground

18. Command of Ground



1. Offence and Defence

2. The Relations of the Offensive and Defensive to Each Other in Tactics

3. The Relations of the Offensive and Defensive to Each Other in Strategy

4. Convergence of Attack and Divergence of Defence

5. Character of Strategic Defensive

6. Extent of the Means of Defence

7. Mutual Action and Reaction of Attack and Defence

8. Methods of Resistance

9. Defensive Battle

10. Fortresses

11. Fortresses (continuation)

12. Defensive Position

13. Strong Positions and Entrenched Camps

14. Flank Positions

15. Defence of Mountains

16. Defence of Mountains (continued)

17. Defence of Mountains (continued)

18. Defence of Streams and Rivers

19. Defence of Streams and Rivers (continued)

20.A. Defence of Swamps

20.B. Inundations

21. Defence of Forests

22. The Cordon

23. Key of the Country

24. Operating Against a Flank

25. Retreat into the Interior of the Country

26. Arming the Nation

27. Defence of a Theatre of War

28. Defence of a Theatre of War (continued)

29. Defence of a Theatre of War (continued)—Successive Resistance

30. Defence of a Theatre of War (continued) When No Decision is Sought For



1. The Attack in Relation to the Defence

2. Nature of the Strategical Attack

3. On the Objects of Strategical Attack

4. Decreasing Force of the Attack

5. Culminating Point of the Attack

6. Destruction of the Enemy’s Armies

7. The Offensive Battle

8. Passage of Rivers

9. Attack on Defensive Positions

10. Attack on an Entrenched Camp

11. Attack on a Mountain Range

12. Attack on Cordon Lines

13. Maneuvering

14. Attack on Morasses, Inundations, Woods

15. Attack on a Theatre of War with the View to a Decision

16. Attack on a Theatre of War without the View to a Great Decision

17. Attack on Fortresses

18. Attack on Convoys

19. Attack on the Enemy's Army in its Cantonments

20. Diversions

21. Invasion

22. On the Culminating Point of Victory



1. Introduction

2. Absolute and Real War

3.A. Interdependence of the Parts in a War

3.B. On the Magnitude of the Object of the War and the Efforts to be Made

4. Ends in War More Precisely Defined—Overthrow of the Enemy

5. Ends in War More Precisely Defined (continuation)—Limited Object

6.A. Influence of the Political Object on the Military Object

6.B. War as an Instrument of Policy

7. Limited Object—Offensive War

8. Limited Object—Defence

9. Plan of War When the Destruction of the Enemy is the Object



Index to the 1873 Edition of Graham's Translation of On War

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