Re: October 2019 Handgrenade - Clausewitz and Jomini

Tacitus isn't usually taken as a prescriptive treatise on rhetoric. If you start to include people who had interesting observations about rhetoric, then people like Tacitus, Machiavelli, and even authors like Shakespeare become important.

My own sense, by the way, is that practitioners are generally too involved in the short-term urgent decisions to take a long view. Sometimes, if they have the chance, they do (Jomini, Clausewitz, and Cicero would all be in that category), and it can be valuable.

Re: October 2019 Handgrenade - Clausewitz and Jomini

John, thanks for the curriculum summary, and I stand corrected. From my standpoint as someone no longer "in the business" I guess I've been influenced by the overwhelming barrage of Clausewitz studies in the military history press & blogsphere lately, and poor Jomini seems to have been left behind in the dust. Except at your institution, of course!

Re: October 2019 Handgrenade - Clausewitz and Jomini

"Walking the walk", calls to mind one of our most prominent historians, Sir Max Hastings, whom I heard confess that he'd never heard a shot fired in anger. (Same here, for what it's worth.)

Of course, the major problem with "walking the walk" is that we've run out of historians who've have that distinction anytime before the Korean War.

Regards,

(Dr.) Stanley Sandler

Re: October 2019 Handgrenade - Clausewitz and Jomini

Ralph Hitchens,
You are indeed correct that Jomini was the principal theoretical influence on American Civil War strategy at least during the early parts of the conflict. Clausewitz did not gain attention til the latter half of the 19th century, in part as a result of Prussia's victory over France in 1871. This was also the time when J.J. Graham provided the first English translation of Clausewitz.

Stephen Satkiewicz

Re: October 2019 Handgrenade - Clausewitz and Jomini

Patricia,

Does Tacitus' Dialogus fit in as a theoretical/prescriptive treatise on rhetoric, or perhaps not since it comes across as more a commentary on the decline of rhetoric under the empire? I can think of late antique historians who were soldiers and statesmen, but now you have me wondering about writers on rhetoric...

Re: October 2019 Handgrenade - Clausewitz and Jomini

Dr. Miller's post was thoughtful and thought-provoking. Her essential question, as I read it, is whether those who "talk the talk" must also have "walked the walk." I think the answer, by and large, is "no." Certainly there are cases where people with little or no experience in military affairs are laughably wrong, speaking out, writing, or (in the case of CNN's "Operation Tailwind" broadcast) putting something on TV in a state of ignorance that is truly embarrassing. But there are also many people, I believe, whose deep study and temperament compensate for a lack of direct experience.

Re: October 2019 Handgrenade - Clausewitz and Jomini

I must confess this is my first time hearing this argument made concerning Clausewitz vs Jomini. Probably one of the best summaries of the whole basic issue(i.e. the debate between the two theorists) was written by Christopher Bassford, who even argued that Jomini's later editions of "the Art of War" took into account many of Clausewitz's earlier criticisms. He also argues at the end that there are plenty of attempts made to revive Jomini's influence as a counterpoint to Clausewitz. I couldn't help but interpret John's story within that prism.

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