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CLAUSEWITZ, General Carl von.

On War:

Translated by Colonel J. J. Graham, from the Third German Edition. Three Volumes Complete in One.

London, N. Trübner & Co., 1873 Stock Code: 129716
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First full English edition of Clausewitz' Vom Kriege, which was first published 1832-4 as part of his posthumous works. In view of a recent estimation of On War as "the most important general treatment of its subject yet produced," (Oxford Companion to Military History), the circumstances surrounding the publication of this translation are remarkably low-key. The translator, Colonel James John Graham, was a somewhat obscure figure. After passing out from Sandhurst in 1822 he served as judge-advocate in the West Indies, and briefly as an engineer. But between 1832 and 1835 he took civilian employment as secretary and treasurer to the South-Eastern Railway Company in England, and his only significant military service seems to have been as military secretary to Sir Robert Hussey Vivian, commander of the British "Turkish Contingent" in the Crimean War. The reasons for the timing of this publication are similarly obscure. The inference that it was aimed to cash in on the interest in events of 1870-71 or on Moltke's praise of Clausewitz is rejected by Bassford in his Clausewitz in English: "There is no internal evidence that the events of 1870-71 were the motivating factor or any evidence of an interest in Moltke; in fact neither Graham nor the contemporary reviewers even mentioned Moltke."

In fact the publication was pretty much a disaster: "Only 245 copies were printed in 1873. Of these 21 went to Graham and 32 were sent out as free review copies. Of the rest, 192 were still languishing in the publisher's hands in 1877. For some unknown reason, Trübner printed a further 440 copies in that year, and 572 were still in the warehouse in 1885 which seems to indicate that just 60 copies were sold in twelve years. The book drew no substantial audience and Graham's material rewards thus appear to have been few." This copy has the ownership inscription of James McCleverty "45th Regt. 'Sherwood Foresters'", which designation dates it to around 1881 when under the Childers Reforms of that year the 45th (Nottinghamshire) Regiment became the 1st Battalion Sherwood Foresters. McCleverty had joined the 45th in 1868, transferring to the 95th (Derbyshire) Regiment - to become 2nd Bn Sherwood Foresters in 1881 - in 1880 as adjutant 4th Bn. rising to the rank of colonel in 1889, commanding 47th Regimental District 1893-8. He served in the Sikkim Expedition of 1888, medal, MiD. McCleverty was evidently one of the extremely limited audience who not only purchased Clausewitz, but read, and learned from it. On the first blank he has copied out a passage from Book VIII relating to Austria and Prussia as "the two natural centres of force of the German empire". To which he adds "thus Clausewitz in 1827, foretold the events of 1914 - very certainly the most remarkable example of prophecy in all Military History", closing by borrowing for Clausewitz Valerius Maximus's characterisation of Quintus Scaevola "legum clarissimus et certissimus vates" - most famed and reliable prophet of the laws. An important, and understandably uncommon, edition.

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Large octavo (211 x 164 mm). Near contemporary red quarter morocco by Birdsall & Son, Northampton for the Cavalry Club their badge gilt to the front board, dark pink linen boards, green morocco label to the spine, top edge gilt, pink marbled endpapers.


Tissue-guarded, mounted oval photographically reproduced portrait frontispiece with facsimile signature.


A little rubbed and soiled on the boards, occasional light foxing, but remains attractive, very good.


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