Military conflict in which the contenders mobilize all of their civilian and military resources in order to obtain a complete victory. It is distinguished from the partial commitment of lives and resources in limited war. The modern concept of total war is traced to Carl von Clausewitz, who stressed the importance of crushing the adversary's forces in battle and described wars as tending constantly to escalate in violence toward a theoretical absolute. The classic 20th-century work is Erich Ludendorff's The Total War (1935). World Wars I and II are usually regarded as total wars. After World War II, especially during the Cold War, the prospect of an all-out nuclear war made the major powers reluctant to engage in full-scale international warfare or allow their client states to do so.
World War One was like no other war before in history. The main theatre of war, the Western Front, was deadlocked from a few months after the war's start in 1914 until a few months before its end in 1918, stretching in a continuous line of trenches from the English Channel to the Swiss frontier. By 1916 the forces of Germany, France and the British Empire, armies millions of men strong, measured advances in terms of a few miles (or kilometres) gained over several months. Casualties for each big attack or 'push' ran into hundreds of thousands on both sides, with calculations for victory based on national birth-rates to replace the losses. This was not the kind of war that anyone, including the politicians and generals who directed it, wanted to fight.
During the historical periods in which the Total War titles take place, there were numerous figures that rose to prominence. Some of these individuals, oddly enough, have remained popular figures in modern culture, but most are not always well-known. While most of these names wouldn't be well known outside of their respective countries a great many of them do indeed exist inside the game. Although not in a necessarily straightforward manner.
On War has become something of a classic, often cited, discussed in numerous recent books, seen in the company of Sun Tzu's Art of War (thought to be circa fourth century BC), and studied in military academies. On War appeals to anyone who wants to see how a general thinks, and to all who suppose that warcraft applies to an office, company, college, or team. Clausewitz himself compared war with commerce and alliances with "a business deal."
Clausewitz (1780-1831) studied total war. Although he knew nothing of tanks, air forces, or satellite communications, he knew from combat how wars kill, confuse, and terrify. In war studies, expertise matters enormously; he had plenty.
Vegetius, a Roman writer of the fourth century AD, said, "Let him who desires peace prepare for war." Carl von Clausewitz sharpened the point: "The fact that slaughter is a horrifying spectacle must make us take war more seriously, but not provide an excuse for gradually blunting our swords in the name of humanity. Sooner or later someone will come along with a sharp sword and hack off our arms." Darfur has made clear that that is not just a metaphor.
"Rather than comparing [war] to art we could more accurately compare it to commerce, which is also a conflict of human interests and activities; and it is still closer to politics, which in turn may be considered as a kind of commerce on a larger scale." On War, Book I, Ch. 3
The Prussian military thinker Carl von Clausewitz is widely acknowledged as the most important of the classical strategic thinkers. Even though he's been dead for nearly two centuries, he remains a powerful living influence: the most frequently cited, the most controversial, and in many respects the most modern of strategic theorists. This website is intended as a central source for information, articles, and arguments about the man and his ideas. It is designed to accommodate anyone interested in understanding human strategies, including not only scholarly researchers on Clausewitz but also students and faculty in professional military education (PME) institutions, business schools, and other organizations concerned with human competition and conflict.