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CLA 136 — The Art of War, Part II: Modern Times

Quarter: Winter
Day(s): Wednesdays
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Jan 12—Mar 16
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Refund Deadline: Jan 14
Units: 2
Tuition: $485
Instructor(s): Christopher Krebs
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Registration opens Nov 29, 8:30 am (PT)
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Live Online(About Formats)
7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Jan 12—Mar 16
10 weeks
Refund Date
Jan 14
2 Units
Christopher Krebs
Registration opens Nov 29, 8:30 am (PT)
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
In the preface to his treatise on The Art of War, Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527) likens military defense to “the roof of a palace without which all the fancy interiors would be devastated by heavy rains.” A Renaissance man steeped in the classics—who is today most famous for his The Prince—Machiavelli wrote his war treatise as a Socratic dialogue to discuss such concepts as Roman "discipline" and "virtue" and the role of tactics in an age rapidly changing due to gunpowder weapons. Machiavelli’s analysis earned the praise of Carl von Clausewitz (1780-1831), perhaps the most influential military thinker of the modern age. Clausewitz's treatise On War is comprehensively rationalistic and abounds in concepts (including "frictions," or unforeseen complications) that are taught at military academies to this day. In fact, John Keegan (1934-2012) only slightly overstated Clausewitz's significance by observing that he had “influenced every soldier and statesman interested in war for the last 100 years." Keegan himself wrote one of the 20th century’s most influential and highly readable military works, The Face of Battle, which paid the common soldier his due—honoring his fear and anguish, tears and blood.

While reading these three texts, we will pay particular attention to discontinuities from ancient authors and the relevance of military doctrines to modern social and political life in the West.

This course is the second in The Art of War series. While the courses build upon one another, each course can be taken independently as well.

Associate Professor of Classics, Stanford

Christopher Krebs studied Classics and philosophy in Berlin and Kiel and at the University of Oxford, and taught at Harvard. He is the author of A Most Dangerous Book: Tacitus’s Germania from the Roman Empire to the Third Reich and co-editor of The Cambridge Companion to the Writings of Julius Caesar.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) John Keegan, The Face of Battle: A Study of Agincourt, Waterloo, and the Somme (ISBN 978-0140048971)
(Required) Niccolò Machiavelli and Christopher Lynch (trans.), Art of War (ISBN 978-0226500461)
(Required) Carl von Clausewitz, Michael Eliot Howard (trans.), On War (ISBN 978-0691018546)
(Required) Ernst Jünger, Basil Creighton (trans.), The Storm of Steel (ISBN 978-1696237727)
(Recommended) John M. Najemy (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Machiavelli (ISBN 978-0521678469)
(Recommended) Michael Howard, Clausewitz: A Very Short Introduction (ISBN 978-0192802576)