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Donald Stoker: Clausewitz: His Life and Work
Pritzker Military Museum & Library

Event starts Thu Dec, 11 2014 6:00 PM

Thursday, December 11, 2014 6:00pm
Donald Stoker, Clausewitz: His Life and Work
Military historian Donald Stoker discusses his perceptive biography of Carl von Clausewitz, which moves skillfully between Clausewitz’s career as a soldier and his work as a theoretician and author. Sponsored by Oxford University Press.
Carl von Clausewitz’s masterwork, On War, is generally considered the greatest text on military theory ever written. Clausewitz is a touchstone for the field today, and is read by scholars, students, and military personnel around the world. And yet to Clausewitz himself, far more important than achieving recognition for his scholarly and theoretical contributions was achieving glory on the field of battle—winning renown not with his pen but with his sword.

Though Clausewitz certainly spilled his share of ink, he also spilled blood—his as well as that of the enemy. As an officer in the Prussian army, Clausewitz fought in battles from Jena-Auerstedt to Waterloo, as well as the battle of Borodino while serving the Russians. Stoker takes readers through the heat of these battles, providing historical overview and discussing each engagement in detail. Rich context is provided by Clausewitz himself, who wrote abundant letters to his wife and friends throughout his life, and from which Stoker draws extensively.

Clausewitz argues for the centrality of Clausewitz’s work as a soldier, but it does not neglect his historical achievements in military theory. Stoker unpacks each of Clausewitz’s significant works, considering their influences and describing the circumstances around their composition. The interplay between the biographical details of Clausewitz’s life and the arguments put forth in his written works allows for a deeper understanding of these familiar texts, and Stoker’s insightful commentary adds depth to the discussion. The result is an absorbing reassessment of both the man and his legacy, and a significant contribution to the study of Clausewitz and his place in today’s military and political landscape.

Donald J. Stoker, PhD is Professor of Strategy and Policy for the U.S. Naval War College’s Monterey Program at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. He is author and editor of seven books, including The Grand Design: Strategy and the U.S. Civil War, 1861-1865, which won the prestigious Fletcher Pratt award for best non-fiction Civil War book of 2010 and was a Main Selection of the History Book Club. He has written for numerous magazines, such as North & South, Military History Quarterly, and Naval History, and some of his shorter pieces have been translated into Dutch and French.

 

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