The king of Prussia from 1740 to 1786, Frederick the Great ranks among eighteenth-century Europe's most enlightened rulers. In addition to abolishing serfdom in his domains and promoting religious tolerance, he was an ardent patron of the arts and an accomplished musician. "Diplomacy without arms," he observed, "is like music without instruments." Frederick's expertise at military matters is reflected in his successful defense of his territory during the Seven Years' War, in which he fought all the great powers of Europe. His brilliant theories on strategy, tactics, and discipline are all explained in this vital text.
"War is not an affair of chance," Frederick asserted, adding that "a great deal of knowledge, study, and meditation is necessary to conduct it well." In this book, he presents the fundamentals of warfare, discussing such timeless considerations as leadership qualities, the value of surprise, and ways to conquer an enemy who possesses superior forces. The soundness of his advice was endorsed by Napoleon himself, who once advised, "Read and re-read the campaigns of Alexander, Hannibal, Caesar . . . and Frederick. This is the only way to become a great captain and to master the secrets of the art of war."
Republication of the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, 1944 edition.