Napoleon's 1796 Italian Campaign
Carl von Clausewitz Translated and edited by Nicholas Murray and Christopher Pringle
Carl von Clausewitz (1780–1831) is best known for his masterpiece of military theory On War, yet that work formed only the first three of ten volumes of his published writings. The others, historical analyses of the wars that roiled Europe from 1789 through 1815, informed and shaped Clausewitz’s military thought, so they offer invaluable insight into his dialectical, often difficult theoretical masterwork.
Among these historical works, perhaps the most important is Napoleon’s 1796 Italian Campaign, which covers a crucial period in the French Revolutionary Wars. During this campaign the young, largely unknown Corsican, in his first command, led the French Army to triumph over the superior forces of the Austrian and Sardinian Armies. Moving from strategy to battle scene to analysis, this first English translation nimbly conveys the character of Clausewitz’s writing in all its registers: the brisk, often powerful description of events as they unfolded; the critical reflections on strategic theory and its implications; and, most bracing, the dissection and sharp judgment of the actions of the French and Austrian commanders.
“The translation is excellently done, with copious footnotes and annotations by the authors. For anyone wanting to understand how history, strategy, and political science interact in Clausewitz’s master work, this is an outstanding example of these ideas examined under wartime conditions.”
—New York Journal of Books
“Clausewitz’s account of Napoleon’s 1796 Italian campaign is a historical study of strategy, written in the late 1820s with the intent of solving ‘strategic questions’ in the author’s quest for a coherent theory of war. This new scholarly edition, carefully translated and edited by Nicholas Murray and Christopher Pringle, provides historians and students of strategy with a valuable tool to better understand On War.”
—Anders Palmgren, director of the Joint Advanced Command and Staff Course, Swedish Defence University
“History was the principal medium used by Carl von Clausewitz as he developed the ideas that he expressed inOn War. He wrote much more of history than he did theory, and yet his historical writings have struggled to find an English-language audience. This translation of Clausewitz’s history of the 1796 Italian campaign, Napoleon’s first triumph and therefore much studied by his admirers, is to be warmly welcomed.”
—Hew Strachan, author of Clausewitz’s On War: A Biography
“The continued relevance of Clausewitz’s theories is well known; what is less understood is the historical studies that led him to these ideas. Never before translated into English, this book makes readily accessible Clausewitz’s analysis of one of history’s greatest minds through Napoleon’s formative campaign. Joining well-known translations of Clausewitz’s histories of the 1812 invasion of Russian and the 1815 Waterloo campaigns, Napoleon’s 1796 Italian Campaign illustrates Clausewitz’s development of some of his most critical concepts for the first time in English.”
—Mark T. Gerges, associate professor of Military History, US Army Command and General Staff College
“Interested in Clausewitz but lack the stomach (and the Sitzfleisch) for On War? Here is the antidote, one of the Prussian sage’s more snackable historical works. Napoleon’s 1796 Italian Campaigns has it all: flash campaign narrative, deep analysis, and snide remarks about Jomini. Murray and Pringle are erudite commentators and smooth translators. A volume for novices and expert alike.”
—Robert M. Citino, author of The Wehrmacht’s Last Stand: The German Campaigns of 1944–1945See fewer reviews...
From the thrill of the Battle of Montenotte—the youthful Bonaparte’s first offensive—to the remorseless logic of Clausewitz’s assessments, Napoleon’s 1796 Italian Campaign will expand readers’ experience and understanding of not only this critical moment in European history but also the thought and writings of the modern master of military philosophy.