Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Ghost Of Napoleon by B. H. Liddell-Hart

The Ghost Of Napoleon by B. H. Liddell-Hart this was originally a set of four lectures given in the mid-1930s. They attempt to define the strategy and tactics of Napoleon his forebears and successors. Liddell-Hart argues convincingly that Napoleon was not an innovator rather he used developments that had been created by others. From the way that the argument is defended I assum this was rather controversial at the time. I'm pretty sure it's not today. The second half of the book deals with Carl von Clausewitz. Liddell-Hart believed that the stalemate of the first world war can be laid at the feet of Clausewitz. The logic is a little tortured even. Liddell-Hart has to admit that there were caveats about the utility of mass in On War but military readers were too stupid to notice. So Clausewitz is being blamed for being unclear.

It is possible to see some of the ideas that he would later expand in his book Strategy. The indirect approach, surprise and dislocation both tactically and inside the commanders head.


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