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I think a movie about Carl von Clausewitz, the nineteenth-century Prussian officer best known for penning On War, would be quite interesting, though for reasons many might not know. When I ask my students “Who was Carl von Clausewitz?” they invariably reply “a theorist” or “a German general.” He certainly was these things, but he was much more besides.Learn more about Clausewitz: His Life and Work at the Oxford University Press website.
It is this “much more” that would make a movie about Clausewitz a fascinating period piece. Our backdrop is the tumult of the French Revolution and the sweep of the Napoleonic Wars (1789-1815). Clausewitz grew up in and fought his way through this chaotic maelstrom. Born in 1780, he went into the Prussian army as a boy (probably shortly before his twelfth birthday), and saw combat for the first time before he was 13. He participated in the shelling and siege of Mainz (1793), and then fought in the back and forth campaign in the rugged Vosges. He served as a young officer in the 1806 war with France, fought in the rearguard at Auerstedt, then survived a 14-day fighting retreat and nearly a year of imprisonment in France. Meanwhile, he carried on a long, romantic courtship of Marie von Brühl, a beautiful and exceedingly intelligent woman of superior social station. They married at the end of 1810; Marie’s widowed mother—after seven years—had finally given her blessing.
Clausewitz joined the Russian army in 1812 and served from beginning to end in one of the most famous campaigns in history: Napoleon’s invasion of Russia. He fought in...[read on]
Donald Stoker is Professor of Strategy and Policy for the U.S. Naval War College's program at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. He is the author of The Grand Design: Strategy and the U.S. Civil War.
The Page 99 Test: The Grand Design.
My Book, The Movie: Clausewitz: His Life and Work.