Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Books read in 2013: No. 10 -- The Art of War

by Niccolo Machiavelli

Started: Feb. 19
Finished: March 2

Notes: Yep, it's a third book titled The Art of War, this one by the famed Niccolo Machiavelli. There are actually two more books with this title of which I'm aware, one by Chairman Mao and the other by an 8th Century B.C. general from China, but I do not have those books. This book is of much interest to me for a variety of reasons, one being that it's another work of Machiavelli, but also that historically it's a little closer in its flare to what is often considered traditional fantasy warfare. I'm also interested here in the way this book is written, as a series of conversations, which is very Greek, in my opinion, but Machiavelli being a Renaissance writer, those writers were much influenced by the ancients.

Mini review: Yes, there's definitely a strong influence from the ancients here. Nearly all of Machiavelli's notions behind the military sciences are based upon the ancient Romans, though some upon the Greeks and other early nations. It was interesting to compare this book with one of a similar title written by Baron de Jomini in the early 19th Century, to see how much had changed but also what had remained the same in the roughly 300 years since the publication of Machiavelli's work here. To add: Unlike most authors of such literature, Machiavelli wasn't an experienced military man. Machiavelli was mainly a bureaucrat who was also familiar with rounding up men for military service, and he spent time as a clerk of sorts for various military figures, but he was never a soldier or officer himself, nor do I believe he ever took part in actual combat (though my memory is a little shaky on that one). Still, armchair general or not, Machiavelli raises many good points in this book, and anyone interested in warfare, the Renaissance, or even fantasy war, could do themselves a favor by reading this. The writing is fair, not difficult to understand, and there are a few charts to help with the more difficult parts.

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

The man had some brains I'll say that.