Saturday, October 15, 2011

Jomini and Carol Reardon

The supposed influence of Baron Jomini's classics of military theory on Civil War generals is a subject often raised in books, but generally not with much substance or useful context. Lately, UNC Press has published a few works -- like those of Wayne Hsieh and Earl Hess -- attempting to explain some aspect or another of the how and why of Civil War battlefields, and Carol Reardon's upcoming study With a Sword in One Hand and Jomini in the Other: The Problem of Military Thought in the Civil War North (May 2012) looks to be another worthwhile offering in a similar vein. According to the book description:

"She argues that the absence of a strong intellectual foundation for the conduct of war at its start--or, indeed, any consensus on the need for such a foundation--ultimately contributed to the length and cost of the conflict. Reardon examines the great profusion of new or newly translated military texts of the Civil War years, intended to fill that intellectual void, and draws as well on the views of the soldiers and civilians who turned to them in the search for a winning strategy. In examining how debates over principles of military thought entered into the question of qualifications of officers entrusted to command the armies of Northern citizen soldiers, she explores the limitations of nineteenth-century military thought in dealing with the human elements of combat".

Sounds very interesting.

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