Graph of Clausewitz's visibility over time, from "Who's Bigger?: Where Historical Figures Really Rank" (10APR2014)
Purpose, Editorial Philosophy, and Target Audiences
Despite the ".com" in our URL, Clausewitz.com is a non-profit educational site. (The .com is an artifact of history: when the site was created in the 1990s, that was the only thing available, and a frustrated business consultant grabbed Clausewitz.org before we knew the rules had changed.) The site is designed to help anyone seeking to know more about the life, works, ideas, or impact of the influential Prussian soldier and theorist Carl von Clausewitz (1780-1831). Clausewitz was a professional fighting soldier and a military educator, but he was also a profound political, strategic, and historical theorist. This is not a dead historical subject. Clausewitz remains a powerful living influence on strategists and doctrine writers. Recent references to Clausewitz in the news media are tracked (erratically) here. The site includes images; videos; bibliographies in several languages (including links to many items on-line); on-line bookstores in the USA, UK, France, and Germany; articles and other readings (including academic papers, military manuals, and complete books); and indexes to Clausewitz's On War. The items listed under "readings" are mostly recent (on a historical time-scale), mostly scholarly studies, plus other items of contemporary importance or interest. The latter include some older items, such as Jomini's 1838 essay on military theory and a 1909 critique of the Clausewitzian naval theorist Julian Stafford Corbett by the equally-but-differently Clausewitzian military critic Spenser Wilkinson. The reader will also find the first complete on-line text of Clausewitz's 1832 classic On War (in an reasonably accurate and still useful 1873 translation, though the Victorian English is rather dated); the full original 1832 German edition (Vom Kriege), Clausewitz's 1812 Principles of War (in two different English translations), his study of The Campaign of 1812 in Russia (an 1843 translation), his study of The Campaign of 1815 (our 2010 translation), and other writings by Clausewitz. We have a great deal of material on the reception of Clausewitz by writers in the English language. The visitor will find many links to historical websites, related books and thinkers, etc., and—very occasionally—student papers about Clausewitz. A scientific section, "Clausewitz and Complexity," provides links to materials connecting Clausewitzian theory to the emerging nonlinear sciences (e.g., Chaos and Complexity, etc.). A growing Business section is designed to help the growing number of business strategy consultants interested in getting a grasp on Clausewitz's approach.
Many "Clausewitz experts" tend to be somewhat opinionated (to politely understate the matter). The tone of debates among them seems at times to take on a quasi-theological tone—with all the usual accompaniments thereof, including personal attacks, scholarly sneers, and squeals of "Heresy!" Given the importance of Clausewitzian theory, this is understandable. But it is also a bit absurd, since Clausewitz was just an exceedingly interesting human being who is now quite dead and thus unable to have a specific opinion about developments after 1831. There are many interesting ways to interpret Clausewitz, many of which are valuable even though they may have little relationship to his original intent. We enjoy the theoretical hair-splitting the theoretical debate often engenders, and we try not to be dull. The hairs we split are important ones.
On the other hand, there are many arguments made about Clausewitz that are flatly wrong. We try to be open-minded, balanced, and unbiased—but not suckers. Thus we are:
a) unabashedly positive (though still critical) about the value of Clausewitz's ideas and about intelligent, creative discussion about them, and
b) bluntly intolerant of certain kinds of foolishness—i.e., arrogantly expressed opinions on "Clausewitz and the Clausewitzians" based not on thoughtful reading and informed thinking but on half-remembered third-party rumors or half-witted fandom for some allegedly competing theorist.
Our visitors report military, academic (primarily history, international relations, political science, and philosophy), scientific, and business/commercial motivations. We try hard to serve all these interests.
The Clausewitz Homepage is edited by Dr. Christopher Bassford. A brief academic biography is here. A list of the editor's published writings on the subject is available here. Materials and opinions posted to Clausewitz.com are solely the responsibility of the authors thereof and/or the editor of the website and do not reflect the positions of the United States Government, the Department of Defense, the Roman Catholic Church, the Dalai Lama, the Delian League... well, anybody else, really.
The Clausewitz Homepage contains thousands of text, image, and scripting files and has been on-line since c.1995(!). As a result, the underlying code is often a bulky hodge-podge of HTML and other coding from various web-editing applications and many different eras. We are always working to redesign the site to take better advantage of the latest flavors of HTML and CSS and to adapt to newer platforms. In the meantime, please be tolerant of the sometimes erratic appearance of our files, broken links, and sometimes-excessive download times.
Every effort is made to see that copyrights on other texts and graphics are fully respected. If you have any concerns regarding copyright on any materials displayed, please contact The Clausewitz Homepage webmaster. Reprint and other copyright permissions must be obtained from the listed copyright owners (we try to provide convenient electronic links for that purpose). The site editor cannot be responsible for obtaining copyright permissions for contributions: such permissions must be provided before any copyrighted material is posted to this site. Copyright to material created by The Clausewitz Homepage™ itself is held by Clausewitz.com.
The earliest version of the The Clausewitz Homepage was created c.1995 at URL http://www.mnsinc.com/cbassfrd/CWZHOME/CWZBASE.htm. The oldest archived version, dated 26 NOV 1998) can be found on The Internet Archive's Wayback Machine. The Clausewitz.com domain went live on December 14th 1998. The ClausewitzStudies.org domain became fully functional in August 2019. ClausewitzStudies.org was deployed in 2019.
The electronic bookstore feature is offered in association with Amazon.com and its British, French, German, and Japanese units. We offer this service, not for profit (any proceeds go to defray the costs of maintaining this website) but as a convenient way for users to track relevant published materials. All transactions are strictly between the buyer and Amazon.com.