Antoine-Henri Jomini was the strategist who anticipated Napoleon’s movements – and the general who betrayed the emperor by defecting to the Russians for a better position. He was among the most widely read strategists of land warfare in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. To kick off Season 3 of Talking Strategy, Beatrice Heuser and Paul O’Neill are joined by Professor Antulio Echevarria to reflect on his work.
Jomini’s analysis of Napoleon’s way of war – his strategies, his ‘système de guerre’ – is outstanding, and the true reason for the great popularity of his work. Napoleon’s concentration on the centre of gravity, seeking the decisive battle, and bringing his forces together on one point – these were all key features of Jomini’s analysis. It was perfect for those not looking for philosophies, but for something allowing them to penetrate through the complexities of warfare in a revolutionary age.
Jomini’s works on strategy were being read in military academies from the US to Russia at the turn of the 20th century. Then came a period when he was eclipsed by other authors and unjustly neglected. What remained greatly inspirational for militaries on all sides, however, was his list of principles of war, and his focused and insightful analysis of Napoleonic warfare. Our guest in this episode is Professor Antulio Echevarria, who, after serving in the US Army, turned to academia. He teaches at the US Army War College and has published widely on strategy.
The views or statements expressed by guests are their own and their appearance on the podcast does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. Views and opinions expressed by RUSI employees are those of the employees and do not necessarily reflect the view of RUSI.
Antoine-Henri Jomini: The Art of War, trans. G.H. Mendell, 1862 (originally published in French, 1836), Arc Manor, 2007.
John Shy, ‘Jomini’, in Peter Paret, ed., with Gordon Craig and Felix Gilbert, The Makers of Modern Strategy, Oxford University Press, 1986, pp.143-185.
Beatrice Heuser: ‘Jomini’, in Daniel Coetzee & Lee Eysturlid, eds., Philosophers of War: The Evolution of History’s Greatest Military Thinkers, Praeger/ABC Clio, 2013.
Antulio Echevarria II, ‘Jomini, Modern War and Strategy: The Triumph of the Essential’, in Hal Brands, ed., The New Makers of Modern Strategy: From the Ancient World to the Digital Age, Princeton University Press, (forthcoming), pp.145-168.
Senior Associate Fellow
Director, Military Sciences