Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Books read in 2013: No. 9 -- The Art of War

by Antoine-Henri, Baron de Jomini

translated by Capt. G. H. Mendell

Started: Feb. 7
Finished: Feb. 19

Notes: No, this is not a translation of the more famous book of the same title, that written by Sun Tzu, which I recently finished reading. This is an entirely different book, first published in the early 1860s. The author was Russian, and this work has gone down in history as one of the most noted, if not most important, written works on Napoleanic warfare (which, in my opinion, was slowly going out of military fashion about the time of publication, mainly because of the increase in deadliness of the weapons). Of the translator, I could learn little, other than he was a captain who served in the U.S. army engineers in the U.S. Civil War. I'm interested in this book for its history, of course, and how historic warfare relates to fantasy literature, but I'm also interested here because this book was published only a few decades before Tolstoy's book about non-violence. As a member of the nobility himself, Tolstoy would have been aware of the Baron de Jomini, who was a fairly famous person in Russia at the time. Tolstoy also likely would have been aware of this work, though whether he read it or not is anyone's guess.

Mini review: Not the most exciting of reads, but not completely boring, and very interesting. Also, for the time period, this book is fairly technical, but goes back and forth between being vague on some subjects while being more detailed on others. Any writer interested in working in the era of Napoleon should read this, especially if planning to write about warfare from about 1750 through about 1850. And while the edition I read was an English translation from 1863, the original book came out in the 1830s. Besides the original book, the translation I read had several later additions by the author, going up to the 1850s. Also, the author was no armchair historian, but a military man who had been in a dozen of the battles he write about here. This book throws about a lot of names of people and places which might not be familiar to the average person, but thankfully I knew enough of history that I could feel my way around or could look something up.

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

I had never heard of this one. I have the other one by this title.