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Great Military Philosophers

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Professor Charles E. White, PhD Duke University

The class examined the development of the military intellect by introducing the wisdom of the great military thinkers of the past. Among others, the philosophers the course addressed included Sun Tzu, Machiavelli, Clausewitz, Jomini, Mahan, Corbett, Douhet, Mitchell, Liddell Hart and Mao Tse-tung. Much of the reading was of primary sources although commentary and analysis sources were also excellent. Study of these great thinkers provided considerable insight into the nature and conduct of war at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels.

Required Textbooks


  • Clausewitz, Carl von. On War. Edited and Translated by Michael Howard and Peter Paret. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989.
  • Handel, Michael I. Masters of War: Classical Strategic Thought. 3rd Revised and Expanded Edition. London: Frank Cass, 2001.
  • Jablonsky, David. Roots of Strategy (Book 4). Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1999.
  • Liddell-Hart, Basil H. Strategy. 2nd Edition. NY: Meridian Books, 1991.
  • Machiavelli, Niccolo. The Art of War. Translated with Commentary by Christopher Lynch. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003.
  • Paret, Peter, ed. Makers of Modern Strategy: From Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986.
  • Sun Tzu. The Art of War. Translated by Samuel B. Griffith. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1971
  • Tse-Tung, Mao. The Art of War (Special Edition). El Paso, TX: El Paso Norte Press, 2005.

Recommended Supplementary Reading List:

  • Addington, Larry. The Blitzkrieg Era and the German General Staff, 1865-1941. New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1971.
  • __________. The Patterns of War Through the Eighteenth Century. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990.
  • Asprey, Robert B. War in the Shadows: The Guerrilla in History. 2 Vols. New York: Doubleday and Company, 1975.
  • Brodie, Bernard and Fawn. From Crossbow to H-Bomb. Rev. Ed. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1973.
  • Builder, Carl H. The Army in the Strategic Planning Process: Who Shall Bell the Cat? Bethesda: Concepts Analysis Agency Report, 1989:94-105.
  • Challand, Gerard. Art of War in World History: From Antiquity to the Nuclear Age. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1993.
  • Department of the Army. Field Manual 3-0, Operations. GPO, June 2001.
  • Foerster, Roland G., ed. Generalfeldmarshall von Moltke: Bedeutung und Wirkung. Munich: R. Oldenbourg, 1992; Specifically, Michael D. Krause, “Moltke and the Origins of Operational Art” (pp.141-164) and “Moltke and Grant” (pp. 131-139).
  • Gat, Azar. The Origins of Military Thought. 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989/92.
  • German Army. On the German Art of War: Truppenführung. Edited and Translated by Bruce Condell and David T. Zabecki. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2001.
  • Handel, Michael I., ed. Clausewitz and Modern Strategy. London, 1986.
  • Howard, Michael. Clausewitz. New York: Oxford University Press, 1983.
  • Hughes, Daniel J. Moltke on the Art of War: Selected Writings. Novato, CA: Presidio Press, 1995.
  • Kissinger, Henry A. Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy. NY, 1957.
  • Luvaas, Jay. “European Military Thought and Doctrine, 1870-1914,” in The Theory and Practice of War. Edited by Michael Howard. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1975.
  • Paret, Peter. Understanding War: Essays on Clausewitz and the History of Military Power. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992.
  • Rosinski, Herbert. Development of Naval Thought. Newport, 1977.
  • Schnelling, Thomas C. The Strategy of Conflict. NY, 1968.
  • Thibault, George, ed. The Art and Practice of Military Strategy. GPO, 1984.
  • U.S. News & World Report. Triumph Without Victory: The Unreported History of the Persian Gulf War. NY: Random House, 1992
  • Wallach, Jehuda L. The Dogma of the Battle of Annihilation: The Theories of Clausewitz and Schlieffen. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group, 1986.

Articles:

  • Echevarria, Antuilo J., “Moltke and the German Military Tradition: His Theories and Legacies,” Parameters (Spring 1996):91-99.
  • Hadley, Arthur T., “The Split ‘Military Psyche,’” The New York Times, 13 July 1986, VI, pp. 22-25.
  • Krause, Michael D., “Moltke and the Origins of Operational Art,” Military Review (September 1990): 28-44.
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