Owen Connelly - Jomini et la strategie: Une approach historique de l'oeuvre (review) - Journal of Military History 67:1 The Journal of Military History 67.1 (2003) 235-236

Jomini et la stratégie: Une approche historique de l'oeuvre. By Ami-Jacques Rapin. Lausanne, Switzerland: Editions Payot Lausanne, 2002. ISBN 2-601-03297-9. Notes. Bibliography. Pp. 336. Euro 23.70.

This is a work of historiography, focusing on the historical writing of and about Antoine-Henri Jomini, a young Swiss banker who turned to producing military history and theory. He became a baron and brigadier general under Napoleon (serving largely on Marshal Ney's staff). Nonetheless, in 1813, he defected to the Russians, and was made a lieutenant general by Czar Alexander.

Ami-Jacques Rapin is Swiss, a professor at the University of Lausanne, and justly proud of Jomini's worldwide influence and of the fact that his theories were studied at West Point long before those of Clausewitz. He feels, however, that the works of the two theorists complement each other.

The author details Jomini's works and their interrelationship. For example, in 1803, he finished a draft volume of his Traité de grande tactique (based on the campaigns of Frederick the Great), later entitled Traité des grandes opérations militaires. In search of funds to publish it, he submitted a prospectus for a Cours . . . de grande tactique to the Russian Chargé d'Affaires in Paris, to no avail. He then presented the manuscript of the Traité as a "calling card" to Marshal Ney, who assigned him to his staff as a major (despite his lack of military training or experience). It was published as Traité de grande tactique, 3 vols. (1805-6), including a volume of his Histoire des guerres de la révolution française. In 1807 the Traité became the Traité de [sic; later des] grandes opérations militaires and was expanded to five volumes by 1809. In 1810 Jomini added a conclusion, published separately as Résumé des principes généraux de l'art de la guerre, L'Art de la [End Page 235] guerre, and Précis de l'art de la guerre. The Guerres de la révolution was ultimately published separately (15 vols., 1818), and a biography of Napoleon added, then published individually (3 vols., 1827).

Jomini's bibliography (supplied by the author) comprises 138 titles. His Oeuvre consists of five multi-volume works, plus versions of these—revised, refined, expanded, shortened, or extracted and retitled, plus translations and many specialized studies. The author also lists works on Jomini, including fiction, e.g., Journal secret de Napoléon Bonaparte by Lo Duca.

Rapin describes Jomini's L'Histoire critique et militaire des guerres de la Révolution as "une étude monumentale." In this reviewer's opinion it is his most valuable work. It is the most detailed account of France's wars of 1792-97, and its flaws are minor. His Précis de l'art de guerre, on the other hand, supplies rules for combat leaders that leave little room for improvisation, which is the heart of the military art.


Owen Connelly
University of South Carolina
Columbia, South Carolina

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