Students of Clausewitz now have a new and exciting source of information. Scholars from his home town recently discovered Marie von Clausewitz’s last will and testament. One of the most remarkable finds is eleven pages containing a catalogue of the 380 volumes in the library of Carl and Marie.
While Carl von Clausewitz is often quoted, in reality his treatise On War is rarely studied in depth. In times when the U.S. military struggles to find its strategic footing, however, reading and debating Clausewitz’s complex ideas are needed more now than ever before. Perhaps even the times and conditions in which he developed them deserve a second look, for they contain lessons about how strategic thinkers grow and develop.
I first got interested in Clausewitz while living in Germany. It was a time of heated debates on whether US should have invaded Iraq. I think I bought my first copy of On War in German around 2005. Then during my graduate work, Clausewitz was again a big part of the discussions and I started reading it once again. This time, however, I was also interested in Clausewitz, the man and soldier, and so I stumbled upon the whole story about Marie editing On War. None had written anything in depth on the subject and I thought this might be something I could study.
Carl von Clausewitz is known today as the West’s most influential military thinker. His seminal treatise On War lies at the heart of modern military doctrine. One recent article even compared its status among U.S. officers to that of St. Paul’s letters among Christians...The newly discovered complete correspondence between Carl and Marie von Clausewitz offers invaluable clues about the military theorist’s times, personal life, and writing habits. And, finally, they shed some light on Carl as the person and writer, instead of just the theorist.