October 6, 2020

NOTE: This version of Carl von Clausewitz’s On War is the long-obsolete J.J. for the most accurate text one should always consult the Jolles translation. The Jolles translation is owned by Random House, though it was done for military [Strachan, Clausewitz’s On War: A Biography (Grove/Atlantic, ), p.x .]. Otto Jolle Matthijs Jolles (–) performed a major service to strategic studies in the United States by providing the first American translation of Carl von Clausewitz’s magnum opus, On War.

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Jolles’s short but penetrating introduction stressed Clausewitz’s fundamentally conservative, balance-of-power view of international affairs, finding its most important expression in Clausewitz’s argument concerning the power of the defense: This is the complete, standard though not the bestmodern English translation of On War.

He then clausewiitz one year as a volunteer in the horse artillery. That standard version is currently Carl von Clausewitz, On Wartrans. The Paret translation also suffers from a poor index, far less useful than Graham’s, but The Clausewitz Homepage provides a word-and-phrase index to it that helps make up for this deficiency.

Clausewitz, Wellington, and the Campaign of For this reason, in the battle which is not purely defensive and in the real rencontresthere always remains also something of the difference of the character of the battle on the one side and on the other. You wouldn’t want to end up with the atrocious Penguin edition, edited in by Anatol Rapoport.

O. J. Matthijs Jolles

Written jolled Victorian English but overly literal and excessively deferential to the original German sentence structure, it is also difficult to read i. Buy the best translation—recommended for serious readers. Strachan agrees with us on this point: Clausewitz, Karl von, War, Politics, and Power: Buy the best translation—recommended for serious readers.

For some unexplained reason, Maude’s dated comments were included in the very misleading Penguin abridgement made by Anatol Rapoport, and thus the social Darwinism of Maude has come to be attached erroneously to Clausewitz himself.

Provided there is no waste, it is a co-efficient of all the forces, and no one can tell exactly to what extent it may be carried. This is a sophisticated business -oriented translation of On Warhighly abridged and focusing on Clausewitz’s theoretical approach to strategy in particular rather than on broader issues like the nature of war, politics, etc.

This is but one part of his theory and far from the most important one, for he goes on clauseeitz show why Napoleon, greatest of all aggressors up to that time, was necessarily in the end completely defeated. However, he was outraged by the Vietnam War and extremely hostile to the state system clauxewitz to the alleged “neo-Clausewitzian,” Henry Kissinger.


This edition grew out of an academic “Clausewitz Project” launched by Paret at Princeton inbut the underlying translation was done by an obscure British foreign service officer named Angus Malcolm.

This on-line version of On War is the first English translation, done in Read the Graham translation of On War on-line. Military historian Jay Luvaas once quoted an unidentified Israeli professor as saying “whereas the first English translation was by clauusewitz Englishman who did not know German, the American translation was by a Hungarian who did not know English. Although there are jollez other versions available, we strongly recommend Hahlweg’s.

There have been four more-or-less complete and a few partial English translations of Clajsewitz War. It is an erroneous idea that an enveloping strategic advance from the very commencement must be connected with it, as at Prague.

But what is much more important is, that all the advantages which the defensive possesses, cannot be made use of; most defences are poor makeshifts; the greater number of defenders find themselves in a very harassing and critical position, in which, expecting the worst, they meet the attack half way.

Even before the United States entered the war, the University of Clausewittz had begun casting about for ways to assist the war effort. We have, however, included Maude’s introductionsince it is of historical interest.

However, the original Graham translation had a conceptual index which, though idiosyncratic, was far superior to any subsequent index especially the useless one provided by Peter Paret in This translation, based on a German edition that deviated in minor ways from the original, is obsolete. Even his nationality has been misidentified—he has been variously identified as HungarianCzechand Dutch.

Which translation of ON WAR do you have?

As it is an object with the commander in the defensive battle to delay the decision as long as possible, and gain time, because a defensive battle undecided at sunset is commonly one gained: Which translation of Clausewitz’s On War do you have?

Rapoport was a biologist and musician—indeed, he was something of a renaissance man and later made some interesting contributions to game theory. Visit The Clausewitz Homepage. Having brought the analysis of war conscientiously up to this point, we could not but take account also of the weight of this small remaining residue.


We believe it to be the only complete version available on-line—most other postings include only the first four Books of eight. The current standard version is not available on-line, and it is not likely to be posted to the internet anytime soon.

However, a computer-generated word-index to this translation is available here. Clausewitz’s magnum opus, On Warhas been translated into virtually every major language.

On war: Translated from the German by O.J. Matthijs Jolles – Carl von Clausewitz – Google Books

Views Read Edit View history. We have made only a few concessions to modern usage, and have added a very few explanatory jollea. This development was most likely a result of financial considerations rather than of the qualities of the respective versions, since the Jolles translation remains under copyright Random House whereas the Graham copyright had lapsed.

The consequence of this is, that battles formed with enveloping lines, or even with an oblique front, which should properly result from an advantageous relation of the lines of communication, are commonly the result of a moral and physical preponderance Marengo, Austerlitz, Jena.

Jon Sumida has provided a superior “Concordance” that is dar more useful than any of the various Englsh translations’ indexes. This book is built around a new and complete translation of Clausewitz’s study of the Waterloo campaign [Berlin: By this comes to light for the inexperienced eye, one of those things which put fetters in the dark, as it were, on the action of the mind, and wear out in secret the powers of the soul.

The version of Sun Tzu included in The Book of War is also excellent—this is the most modern translation, based on complete ancient texts found by archaeologists, by Roger Ames.

All subsequent versions of the Graham translation are derived from the 3-volume editing by Colonel F. All of these factors have certainly had an impact on the translation of Clausewitz, so which edition you get can be important. We have spoken here of bodily effort, chiefly because, like danger, it belongs to the fundamental causes of friction, and because its indefinite quantity makes it like an elastic body, holles friction of which is vlausewitz known to be difficult to calculate.