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tribble
2009-01-14, 08:43 PM
"to win without fighting is best"-Sun Tzu, The Art of War

what else do you think he's read?

Occasional Sage
2009-01-14, 08:55 PM
von Clausewitz (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_War).

dr pepper
2009-01-14, 10:05 PM
Machiavelli
Julius Caesar
Von Neumann
Proceedings of the Prussian Military Academy
Bobby Fischer
Flying Buffalo Catalog

kpenguin
2009-01-15, 04:35 AM
Parson would hardly be the ultimate warlord if he hadn't read the Art of War, or at least know its concepts.

DevilDan
2009-01-15, 11:37 AM
Clausewitz (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_War).

I wonder why everyone elides the "von"...

SteveMB
2009-01-15, 11:43 AM
I wonder why everyone elides the "von"...

Obviously because they agree with Stanley the Worm and his blasphemous denigration of the respect due to the nobility. :smallwink:

Occasional Sage
2009-01-15, 11:57 AM
I wonder why everyone elides the "von"...

Because while we know better, we get used to hearing everybody else refer to "Clausewitz's 'On War'" and get beaten into the bad habit.

Edited to correct, thanks.

HandofShadows
2009-01-15, 03:49 PM
Considering how Person acts it might be easier to think of books he has NOT read. I think he probably reads everything from Grant's memoirs to The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Pirates. :smallbiggrin:

BRC
2009-01-15, 03:53 PM
Considering how Person acts it might be easier to think of books he has NOT read. I think he probably reads everything from Grant's memoirs to The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Pirates. :smallbiggrin:

I don't know if he does, but Wanda certainly does. She definitely knows "If violence isn't your last resort, you failed to resort to enough of it.

K2
2009-01-16, 12:59 AM
Obviously because they agree with Stanley the Worm and his blasphemous denigration of the respect due to the nobility. :smallwink:

Do not speak of my lord Tool that way.

Capt'n Ironbrow
2009-01-16, 05:14 PM
I can't imagine he hasn't read Sun Zi, wargaming is/was his all and all, his only joy he got from life... and for guys like Parson to not read it... well... that would make it even more tragic...

but von Clauszewitz' On War, that's the greater part of his little strategy lesson. Define the goal and objectives and the means to get there. true, Von Clauszewitz made the (offering of) battle the object, but then, it's probably he best book for the situation... there has to be battle in this world, or at least, the possibility of it, to resolve a war. And the offense (your turn) and defense (enemy's turn) dynamics fit in with the theories The Clauz made.

but then, von Clauszewitz didn't have a lot to say about espionage and alliances, which Sun Tzu did.

The smart Parson would use elements of both these books, "On War" for operational strategy, SunZi for the special things like magic, misdirection, psychology and (counter)espionage ...

Machiavelli would be useless here, for he just copied Vegetius "on military matters" (3d century CE) which was more of a manual about army organisation, recruitment and logistics... In Roman times! Machiavelli's work was outdated before he wrote it!

tribble
2009-01-16, 07:33 PM
I can't imagine he hasn't read Sun Zi, wargaming is/was his all and all, his only joy he got from life... and for guys like Parson to not read it... well... that would make it even more tragic...

but von Clauszewitz' On War, that's the greater part of his little strategy lesson. Define the goal and objectives and the means to get there. true, Von Clauszewitz made the (offering of) battle the object, but then, it's probably he best book for the situation... there has to be battle in this world, or at least, the possibility of it, to resolve a war. And the offense (your turn) and defense (enemy's turn) dynamics fit in with the theories The Clauz made.

but then, von Clauszewitz didn't have a lot to say about espionage and alliances, which Sun Tzu did.

The smart Parson would use elements of both these books, "On War" for operational strategy, SunZi for the special things like magic, misdirection, psychology and (counter)espionage ...

Machiavelli would be useless here, for he just copied Vegetius "on military matters" (3d century CE) which was more of a manual about army organisation, recruitment and logistics... In Roman times! Machiavelli's work was outdated before he wrote it!

who is this Sunzi?

Machiavelli didnt write about war so much as politics. he also made some very good points: dont hurt someone unless you can make sure he can never hurt you back, dont use mercenaries (the competent ones are a threat, the incompetent ones are a liability). also, he was ahead of his time: being feared is safer than being loved, because being loved is in the control of the people, being feared is in the control of the prince. (one of the 7 habits of highly effective people: be proactive)

kpenguin
2009-01-16, 07:42 PM
If I recall correctly, sly ol' Niccolo said that it was best to be loved and feared, but since the two don't usually go together, just being feared was the next best thing. He advised against being hated, though.

The_JJ
2009-01-16, 07:44 PM
Clauszewitz was discredited after World War One proved just how stupid constantly seeking battle was. Then, with the balance shifting back to the offensive with tanks & planes etc. he became important again. Note, was ignored during Vietnam, so the Powell Doctrine was rolled out. (Clear objectives, when you comit, use overwhelming force. None of this gradual build up stuff.) It's Clausy-mousey redux. So, situationally, a good read.

But Sun Tzu is forever.

Capt'n Ironbrow
2009-01-17, 02:59 AM
who is this Sunzi?

Machiavelli didnt write about war so much as politics. he also made some very good points: dont hurt someone unless you can make sure he can never hurt you back, dont use mercenaries (the competent ones are a threat, the incompetent ones are a liability). also, he was ahead of his time: being feared is safer than being loved, because being loved is in the control of the people, being feared is in the control of the prince. (one of the 7 habits of highly effective people: be proactive)

Sun Zi is another way of spelling Sun Tzu. Zi is the pinyin romanization, Tzu is Wade-Gilles.

You're right about Machiavelli's political idea's. I was refering to his "art of war", the Fabrizio dialogues where he fantasized about what he thought was the best army for an Italian principality, An update of the roman legion to include a few hundred arquebusses instead of javelins.

dr pepper
2009-01-17, 03:22 AM
He also referred to the non transitivity of troop types. He advised the use of sword infantry against pike infantry, pikes against cavalry, and cavalry against swords.

But the reason i thought parson would read him is for diplomacy and subtrifuge.

Aquillion
2009-01-27, 11:50 AM
The Warhammer 40k Rulebook. :smalltongue:

ishnar
2009-01-27, 12:31 PM
Obviously because they agree with Stanley the Worm and his blasphemous denigration of the respect due to the nobility. :smallwink:

Not just nobility, titles in general at least for Americans. Bush not President Bush. Bill Gates, not Mr. Bill Gates. Any form of title is only used to clear any confusion, or to point out. Ohh, this person has a title at the beginning of an article, then it is dropped for the rest. The beginning of an article might name Queen Elizabeth, but then refer to her simply as Elizabeth for the rest of the article.

zillion ninjas
2009-01-27, 02:05 PM
Not just nobility, titles in general at least for Americans. Bush not President Bush.

"I am not leaving the highest office. I am assuming the highest office, that of citizen."
- Harry S. Truman, at the end of his presidency

Zelig the Liar
2009-01-28, 02:20 AM
I wonder why everyone elides the "von"...

because it's not necessary? Kind of like how you don't have to include "the Great" if you're referring to the Alexander known as that in a context that makes it obvious he's who you're talking about.

I can provide a map through that last sentence for a modest fee. :D

Om
2009-01-28, 04:29 PM
because it's not necessary? Kind of like how you don't have to include "the Great" if you're referring to the Alexander known as that in a context that makes it obvious he's who you're talking aboutNot really. The family name is "von Clausewitz", its not a given title. Omitting it would be akin to referring as John McCain (random example) simply as Cain. Sure, you might be able to understand the reference in a thread on the recent US election but that doesn't make it correct

Zelig the Liar
2009-01-29, 05:16 AM
Not really. The family name is "von Clausewitz", its not a given title. Omitting it would be akin to referring as John McCain (random example) simply as Cain. Sure, you might be able to understand the reference in a thread on the recent US election but that doesn't make it correct

Yeah, really. The family name is "Clausewitz", the "von" is sort of like a title. It means "from", or "of the"; meaning "Soandso from or of the Whatever (family or location)". It is grammatically incorrect and makes the speaker (or author) sound ignorant (though I'm not calling anyone here ignorant) to just say "von Clausewitz".

Read any historical reference, biography or textbook on the man and you'll see that (nearly) all of them start by establishing who they're talking about by mentioning his full name (usually, sometimes they assume the reader knows that much already), and then just call him "Clausewitz" from then on.

BACK ON TOPIC, I'd have to agree that The Art of War is the most significant contributor to Parson's strategic and tactical arsenal. Exploiting terrain and knowledge of the enemy commander's personality, sapping the morale of the enemy force, and controlling their supply lines appear to be foremost in his mind.

The fact that he likes to meet his opponents (or potential allies) face-to-face (well, via Thinkamancy) to negotiate or taunt them strikes close to home with me. I've always liked manipulating my opponents (all friends!) with friendly taunts or banter while playing PC RTSes, CCGs or tabletop miniature games. :D

Om
2009-01-29, 07:55 AM
Yeah, really. The family name is "Clausewitz", the "von" is sort of like a titleIt is not title and it is not a formal honorific. It is a particle that is an integral aspect of name that simply happens to denote nobility. Its akin to de Villepin, de Gaulle, O'Connor, etc

Now it may be common practice to omit the "von", lord knows I've done it myself enough times, but that does not make it any more correct. Certainly I imagine that old Carl would have clocked you if you'd called him "Clausewitz" to his face


BACK ON TOPIC, I'd have to agree that The Art of War is the most significant contributor to Parson's strategic and tactical arsenal. Exploiting terrain and knowledge of the enemy commander's personality, sapping the morale of the enemy force, and controlling their supply lines appear to be foremost in his mind.The problem with the Art of War is that its become so widely disseminated (one could argue it was always little but common sense) that its base teachings are present to some degree in every manual of war written since

liuzg150181
2009-01-29, 09:38 AM
Clauszewitz was discredited after World War One proved just how stupid constantly seeking battle was. Then, with the balance shifting back to the offensive with tanks & planes etc. he became important again. Note, was ignored during Vietnam, so the Powell Doctrine was rolled out. (Clear objectives, when you comit, use overwhelming force. None of this gradual build up stuff.) It's Clausy-mousey redux. So, situationally, a good read.

But Sun Tzu is forever.
In defense of Clausewitz,his book "On War" is perhaps one of the most quoted and least read books of all times, so many of its concepts are actually misunderstood. And this is certainly compounded by the fact that:

1.) Clausewitz himself was a very verbose writer(think of Varsuvius of OotS's loquaciousness ,add in multiplier effect, and you get the gist.) whose original work is so arduous to read that even German readers prefer to get hold of the English translation.

2.) Two editions are in circulations: the original one released by his widow, and a watered-down version released by his sibling after the Franco-Prussian War so as to increase readership. The latter one was more popular and was referenced more.

3.) Clausewitz actually wanted to improve upon, or even consider an overhaul, to his original work to include more stuff like political factors and non-conventional warfare. Unfortunately before he was able to complete it he died of cholera outbreak.

Back to topic, the point of "seeking battle" you are referring to is Clausewitz's concept of attacking the "centre of gravity"(or focal point,Schwerpunkt), a point whose destruction would cause great detrimental effect, be it militarily, socially,politically, or morally. It doesnt need to be force versus force. The misconception that we associate today is originated from those military general who misunderstood it and used it horribly and the military pundit Liddell Hart, who was a rather bitter person to begin with. In all, the whole point of attacking with overwhelming force being espoused to Clausewitz is incorrect in the first place.*

Also, while Clausewitz acknowledge numerical superiority to be an advantage, he also knew it is only of the factors that determines victory. Again, this accusation originated from Liddell Hart(again!) who claimed that Clausewitz is the "Mahdi of Mass(attack)".

IMO Clausewitz's better contribution to the military is the fog of war which emphasizes the unknowns and uncertainty in warfare, coupled with information overload and ambiguity. Interestingly, it seems to me that some of this ideas are rather similar to those expounded in Nicholas Taleb Nassim's
books - "Fooled by Randomness" and "The Black Swan".

*Appendix
To appreciate Clausewitz's ideas on "centre of gravity" one has to read the work itself(Paret's translation):
“Out of them a certain centre of gravity, a centre of power and movement, will form itself, on which everything depends; and against this centre of gravity of the enemy, the concentrated blow of all the forces must be directed.”

So in actual fact it doesnt mean force vs force, but rather in layman's term: attack the enemies' weakest link with all the might you have! Or it is like concentrating on attacking the opponent's head in boxing match.

Surprise!
2009-01-31, 12:06 AM
Parson would hardly be the ultimate warlord if he hadn't read the Art of War, or at least know its concepts.

See this is something I have been wondering, if every military leader read the Art of War. Would not a shrewd leader who didn't gain an advantage because he hadn't? What with having no biases

(Bare in mind I myself have not read it so this may be a completely uneducated question.)

Aquillion
2009-01-31, 12:21 AM
See this is something I have been wondering, if every military leader read the Art of War. Would not a shrewd leader who didn't gain an advantage because he hadn't? What with having no biases

(Bare in mind I myself have not read it so this may be a completely uneducated question.)Not really. The Art of War is not perfect, no, but in a world where everyone has read it, a sufficiently shrewd leader could still benefit more from reading it than from not, because they would be able to predict what less competent or creative warlords would do by knowing the books on which they're depending.

Obviously that doesn't apply to Parson, since it's unlikely anyone else in that world has read the Art of War; but there, he can just depend on the more traditional advantage of knowing the useful things in it that other people there might not have realized.

Tubercular Ox
2009-01-31, 12:27 AM
See this is something I have been wondering, if every military leader read the Art of War. Would not a shrewd leader who didn't gain an advantage because he hadn't? What with having no biases

(Bare in mind I myself have not read it so this may be a completely uneducated question.)

Well, just as an example, there was Nathan Bedford Forrest, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nathan_Bedford_Forrest) who learned his craft almost entirely on the job. No preconceptions, you might say. He is hailed as a natural military man, I'd say a small step under military genius. I have a book on strategy that prominently quotes him as the header to one of its chapters. Asked how he wins battles, he said "Get there first with the most men." This sounds like it's he's being silly, but, my book explains, it succinctly states a rather sophisticated maxim: Be stronger at the decisive point. Very similar to Clausewitz' theory of the "center of gravity." In the theory presented by the book, the science of strategy is almost entirely devoted to figuring out where "there" is when you're trying to get "there" first with the most men. The ART of strategy is being able to move the decisive point to where your men already are.

Wait, I'm digressing... the point is Nathan, a self taught man, reached basically the same conclusion as Clausewitz. While I cannot remember a parallel maxim from Sun Tzu off the top of my head... the demonstration that there are certain basic things which must be learned, whatever the source, should be sufficient to show that, no, not reading Sun Tzu would not give you any special advantage. IMO. >.> Let the argument commence.

DevilDan
2009-01-31, 02:44 AM
The beauty of The Art of War is that one can detect the general principles behind the lessons. In one way or another, their genius can be applied to a variety of situations, perhaps across the entire spectrum of human endeavor..

FacelessSchmuck
2009-01-31, 08:47 AM
Considering how Person acts it might be easier to think of books he has NOT read.
Ooh, ooh, I know! The 4e PHB. :smallbiggrin:

Decius
2009-01-31, 05:39 PM
Asked how he wins battles, he said "Get there first with the most men." This sounds like it's he's being silly, but, my book explains, it succinctly states a rather sophisticated maxim: Be stronger at the decisive point. Very similar to Clausewitz' theory of the "center of gravity." In the theory presented by the book, the science of strategy is almost entirely devoted to figuring out where "there" is when you're trying to get "there" first with the most men. The ART of strategy is being able to move the decisive point to where your men already are.

Wait, I'm digressing... the point is Nathan, a self taught man, reached basically the same conclusion as Clausewitz. While I cannot remember a parallel maxim from Sun Tzu off the top of my head...

I don't have my reference handy, but Sun Tzu did talk about attacking only where the enemy was weak, and defending strongly only where the enemy was attacking. That comes pretty close to "Have the most men there first".

As well, Parson did a superb job at the entire "Where you are weak, appear strong, where you are strong, appear weak." He also understands desperate ground, and has intentionally put his army with their backs to the (Metaphorical) river- Rather than fight to the end in the courtyard, or even the outer wall zone, he has chosen to make his stand in the dungeon, where falling back is impossible.

Of course, I'm not sure how much the morale effects apply when most of your army is undead.

Kreistor
2009-01-31, 06:16 PM
See this is something I have been wondering, if every military leader read the Art of War. Would not a shrewd leader who didn't gain an advantage because he hadn't? What with having no biases

(Bare in mind I myself have not read it so this may be a completely uneducated question.)

Reading the Art of War doesn't make you a great general. At best, it can only prevent you from making basic mistakes. It deals with generalities and what kind of strategies to strive for: it doesn't tell you how to come up with good strategies. For instance, the Japanese tried in WW2 to abuse one section. Sun Tzu suggests that on Desperate Ground, that is ground from which there is no rtetreat, they will always win because there is no retreat and so they will fight to the bitter end, far harder than the enemy. The Japanese, then, placed their men in desperate ground in every possible situation. Those islands were desperate ground, and they caused their men to think the Americans would torture prisoners. This was to create a situation where the Japanese forces could not be defeated. Unfortunately, Sun Tzu was wrong. Piss off an enemy enough, and he'll fight just as hard to stop you as your men will to save their own lives. So there are caveats to these situations. Sun Tzu did not exist in a time and place where genocide was typical, and so the figting was almost exclusively about which noble would rule which area... something the men didn't care about. So, the effects of belief and conviction were not as powerful and not dealt with. In modern times, the American people rally behind calls for Freedom, which would have been unheard of in Sun Tzu's day. So the Art of War is incomplete. Fanaticism is another thing he would not have faced, and something else that can overcome Desperate Ground.

Further, in modern warfare, Desperate Ground is also Unsupplied Ground. War in modern times takes place over days, weeks, and months. To fight, you need a constant flow of bullets, food, and water into your fighting area. Place yourself where you have no escape and you also have no source of these things. Sun Tzu's battle would have been over in a day, so supplying that trapped army would have been unimportant. We all know what happened when Stalingrad became Desperate Ground for the Germans.

And now we have a third dimension to battle. Attacks can come from the air. A force in Desperate Ground can be attacked from the sky, without being able to reply. The British at Dunkirk faced this situation.

So, really, the Art of War is a good source for learning what is good and bad. Sun Tzu says to never lay siege to a city, because in his day they didn't have ways to tear down those walls, and so it would have been very difficult to take the city. That meant starvation for the city, and a loss of many potential subjects for the emperor, or a loss of many soldiers to disease. Or both. You lose the subjects, the army, or both. Not good. But by 1812, taking cities had become ascience for the British, who had the advantage of facing that situation repeatedly in India just before facing Napoleon. Sun Tzu's suggestions here had become passe, but in WW2, the Germans besieged Leningrad. But in Stalingrad, the Germans stalled, leaving their mobility behind, entering a slugfest with the Soviets. They would have been better served by listening to Sun Tzu in this case, since it turned the course of the war

So, knowing when and how to apply Sun Tzu now, and at any point in the course of history, is part of being a great General. Sometimes he's wrong, sometimes right.

Brother Oni
2009-01-31, 07:38 PM
So, knowing when and how to apply Sun Tzu now, and at any point in the course of history, is part of being a great General. Sometimes he's wrong, sometimes right.

Given the the original Art of War was generally accepted to have been written in 6th century BC, the fact that anything is still applicable can be regarded as somewhat amazing. :smallwink:


Another book I'd have expected Parson to have read, especially with its focus on espionage, politics and generally how to be a sneaky bugger, would be Romance of the Three Kingdoms. While heavily fictionalised in places, it still has a fair share of tricks that it can teach people.

Aquillion
2009-01-31, 08:35 PM
Given the the original Art of War was generally accepted to have been written in 6th century BC, the fact that anything is still applicable can be regarded as somewhat amazing. :smallwink:


Another book I'd have expected Parson to have read, especially with its focus on espionage, politics and generally how to be a sneaky bugger, would be Romance of the Three Kingdoms. While heavily fictionalised in places, it still has a fair share of tricks that it can teach people.Some of which would actually be more useful in Erfworld than in reality. "Trap the enemy army in a maze or magical confusion" or "use your magic powers to control the weather" are not exactly valuable pieces of advice to you and me.

Tubercular Ox
2009-02-01, 12:52 AM
OTOH, the British got a right laugh out of how the Chinese fought during the Opium wars. The Brits considered the Chinese cowardly, because no sooner would they engage than they would disengage, and they considered them flashy, because they always had all sorts of flags and drums and whatnot everywhere they went. The Chinese fought like this because of how they understood the Art of War. I can't remember how my source justified the attack and retreat pattern, but the flags and drums were an attempt to appear strong when you were weak. And the Brits did some things that you wouldn't think would be possible, even with their superior technology. Like 500 routing 50000, so, yeah, there's more to be learned than just Sun Tzu.


Some of which would actually be more useful in Erfworld than in reality.
This gives me the image of Parson sitting on the wall playing a guitar with the city gates wide open, inspiring so much fear in Ansom that he dare not go inside. Maybe book 2. He's gotta build his reputation a little.

random_guy
2009-02-01, 01:45 PM
We all know what happened when Stalingrad became Desperate Ground for the Germans.

I think Stalingrad was desperate ground for the Soviets, not the Germans. Stalin did not allow civilians to evacuate, and all of their food was shipped out, which caused a shortage even before the Germans arrived. They were making a last stand in the hope that it will make a difference. In my opinion, there is no such thing as having a situation become desperate ground. The Germans thought they had an advantage and tried to win, but when the situation turned around, they lost their morale and the battle. Desperate ground consists of more than being desperate, there has to be something important that you are trying to protect from the enemy, such as the civilians that were stuck in Stalingrad. As attackers, the Germans had nothing to protect and can always run away until they messed things up and lost that as an option.

I agree with you that desperate ground cannot always win. At the Battle of Thermopylae, the Spartans lost against the Persians. However, they were able to win the war later on because the battle gave them time to reorganize. Any good strategy can become useful if applied correctly. However, the enemy won't follow your plan, so no strategy will work in every situation.

Kreistor
2009-02-01, 03:27 PM
We're straying, and getting into real world stuff here. I'm going to drop this part of the thread now, but just say that I don't agree with you on German morale at Stalingrad, or whether the encircled Sixth Army qualified as Desperate Ground or not (it clearly did meet Sun Tzu's standards).

Send me a PM, if you want that explained.

random_guy
2009-02-01, 06:20 PM
I was suggesting morale as additional factors that may affect battles, not necessarily saying that it played a role in Stalingrad. I'll send you a PM for details later. What I was getting at in my post is not about the specific battle, but how concepts can be sound in theory, but end up failing in practice because of how it's used and other factors that may have been unaccounted for.

Edit: I looked up the battle on wikipedia, and I see what you're talking about regarding the Sixth Army. I was thinking of the overall battle, not the last part of it.