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Thoughts on War$
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Phillip S. Meilinger

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780813178899

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813178899.001.0001

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Busting the Icon

Busting the Icon

Restoring Balance to the Influence of Clausewitz

(p.11) 1 Busting the Icon
Thoughts on War

Phillip S. Meilinger

University Press of Kentucky

Carl von Clausewitz has had a massive influence on military officers. One faculty member at a US war college had spent most of his academic life teaching Clausewitz and would brook no contrary word. Whatever the occasion, he had a quote from On War to bolster his argument. The result was a skewed interpretation of what Clausewitz was attempting to inform, and this tended to push students into a group-think mentality. Some people, in and out of uniform, take their Clausewitz very seriously, so this chapter is an attempt to restore a balance. It looks at what Clausewitz wrote, but also what military leaders and civilian pundits thought he meant in the two centuries since.

Keywords:   Carl von Clausewitz, On War, theory of war, bloody battle, decisive battle, Napoleonic wars, center of gravity

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