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Masters of War Classical Strategic Thought

by Michael I. Handel, US Naval War College

1996 ¦ ¦ 320 pages ¦ ¦ ISBN 0 7146 4674 1 cloth £35.00/$47.50; 0 7146 4205 3 paper £17.50/$24.95 Second Revised Edition

Masters of War is the first comprehensive study based on a detailed textual analysis of the classical works on war by Clausewitz and Sun Tzu and to a lesser extent by Jomini and Machiaveli. Brushing stereotypes aside the author takes a fresh look at what these strategic thinkers actually said - not what they are widely believed to have said. He finds that despite their apparent differences in terms of time, place, cultural background and level of material/technological development, all had much more in common than is previously supposed. In fact, the central conclusion of this book is that the logic of waging war and of strategic thinking is as universal and timeless as human nature itself. This second, enlarged, edition contains a new chapter on the Clausewitzian principles of continuity and the culminating point of victory. There are also six new appendices.

"Michael Handel's selection of side-by-side quotations from their principle works is both apposite and enlightening. Masters of War is therefore a handy addition to the library of anyone seriously interested in military affairs and strategic thought." Dov Zakheim, US Deputy Under Secretary of Defence 1981-1987

Table of Contents

List of maps, figures and tables
Introduction 1. Strategy: Past Theories, Modern Practice
2. Comparing Sun Tzu and Clausewitz
3. Sun Tzu, Clausewitz and the Study of War
4. The Definition of War: A Question of the Level of Analysis
5. 'Attacking the Enemy's Plans' and the Concept of the 'Center of Gravity': Eastern Psychology and Western Mechanics
6. The Primacy of Politics and the Military Commander
7. The Rational Calculus of War: Correlating Ends and Means
8. The First Element of the Paradoxical Trinity: The People in Arms
9. The Ideal and the Real: Victory Without Bloodshed and the Search for the Decisive Battle
10. Numerical Superiority and Victory
11. The Principle of Continuity and the Culminating Point of Victory: The Contradictory Nature of War
12. Deception, Surprise and Intelligence
13. The Role of the Military Leader
14. The Temperament of the Military Leader
15. The Battle Environment and the Intuition of the Military Leader
16. Boldness and Calculation
17. Conclusions
App. A. Contradiction and Paradox in the Theory of War
App. B. The Weinberger Doctrine
App. C. Clausewitz's Ideal-Type Method Applied to Sun-Tzu The Art of War
App. D. The Problem of the Level of Analysis and the Tacticization of Strategy App.
E. Machiavelli and Clausewitz on the Role of the People in War App.
F. Clausewitz and the Principle of Concentration

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