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After Clausewitz: German Military Thinkers Before the Great War (Modern War Studies)


After Clausewitz: German Military Thinkers Before the Great War (Modern War Studies) Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The writings of Carl von Clausewitz loom so large in the annals of military theory that they obscure the substantial contributions of thinkers who came after him. This is especially true for those German theorists who wrote during the half century preceding World War I. However, as Antulio Echevarria argues, although none of those thinkers approached Clausewitz's stature, they were nonetheless theorists of considerable vision.

The Kaiser's theorists have long been portrayed as narrow-minded thinkers rigidly attached to an outmoded way of war, little altered since Napoleon's time. According to this view, they ignored or simply failed to understand how industrialization and modernization had transformed the conduct of war. They seemed unaware of how numerous advances in technology and weaponry had so increased the power of the defensive that decisive victory had become virtually impossible.

But Echevarria disputes this traditional view and convincingly shows that these theorists—Boguslawski, Goltz, Schlieffen, Hoenig, and their American and European counterparts-were not the architects of outmoded theories. In fact, they duly appreciated the implications of the vast advances in modern weaponry (as well as in transportation and communications) and set about finding solutions that would restore offensive maneuver to the battlefield.

Among other things, they underscored the emerging need for synchronizing concentrated firepower with rapid troop movements, as well as the necessity of a decentralized command scheme in order to cope with the greater tempo, lethality, and scope of modern warfare. In effect, they redefined the essential relations among the combined arms of infantry, artillery, and cavalry

Echevarria goes on to suggest that attempts to apply new military theories and doctrine were uneven due to deficiencies in training and an overall lack of interest in theory among younger officers. It is this failure of application, more than the theories themselves, that are responsible for the ruinous slaughter of World War I.

Book News Annotation:

Using published Prussian military studies of the time, Echevarria (national security studies, US Army War College) examines the development of military theories in the Boer and Russo-Japanese wars of the 1870's, in particular, those of Boguslawski, Goltz, Schlieffen, and Hoenig, who he notes have been overlooked in favor of the war philosopher Clausewitz. He argues that the Prussians were aware of new developments in firepower, rapid troop movements, and decentralized command; but attempts to apply new military theories, then and in WWI, were uneven due to the lack of training and even the lack of interest in theory among young officers.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (


Includes bibliographical references (p. 283-335) and index.

Table of Contents



1. The Tactical Crisis

-The Infantry Attack

-The Cavalry Question

-The Artillery Dilemma

2. Initial Solutions

-Infantry: Normaltaktik Versus Auftragstaktik

-Cavalry: Toward Greater Versatitility and Firepower

-Artillery: Balancing Concentration and Dispersion

-Views from Abroad

3. The Crisis Expands: Is War Now Impossible?

-Fin de Siecle Change

-A Larger, More Lethal Battlefield

-Impact of the Boer War

-Threat to the Warrior Spirit

-Civilian Views

-Is War Now Impossible?

4. The Struggle for Resolution

-Normaltaktik Versus Auftragstaktik

-The Campaign for the Warrior Spirit

5. A Tactical Synthesis: The Impact of the Russo-Japanese War

-The Infantry Attack

-The Cavalry Question

-The Artillery Dilemma

6. Beyond Resolution

-Integrating the Machine Guns

-Uses of Aircraft

-From Flank Attack to Breakthrough

7. On War in the Present

-The Duel with Delbruck

-The Gesamtschlacht

-The "Ingenious" View

-From Decisive Battles to People's War

-Views from Abroad





Product Details

Echevarria, Antulio J., II
University Press of Kansas
Antulio J. Echevarria II
Echevarria, Antulio J., II
Echevarria II, Antulio J.
Lawrence, Kan.
Military - General
Military Science
Military art and science
Military art and science -- Germany.
Germany History, Military 19th century.
Military-General History
Military - Other
Edition Description:
Modern War Studies (Hardcover)
Publication Date:
9.32x6.33x1.23 in. 1.61 lbs.

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