Reading for Saturday, 20 December
I had to chuckle at this chapter. Here Andrei meets Pfuhl the German strategist. There’s not really anythin I could add here, the chapter is so perfect on its own, but if I could point out my favourite moments, they are:
a) When we have the description of the various nationalities and why they are conceited. My favourite of these is the French: “The Frenchman is conceited from supposing himself mentally and physically to be inordinately fascinating both to men and to women.”
b) The description of Pfuhl’s love of the grand theory of war and that even a failure “only convinced him of the correctness of his theory”.
You may be thinking that there are an awful lot of people involved in the command of this war, none of whom really seem to care that much about victory of the gravity of the situation. Sadly, this is not just a novelistic thing, but something that seems to appear in many wars.
One of the problems the Americans (both sides) faced during the American Civil War of 1861-1865 was that when the war started, many commanders and generals were put into place on account of their political standing or how wealthy they were, rather than any military prowess and it caused all sorts of problems.
Oh yeah, and my final thing for today, is that I still think Tolstoy considers the Tsar to be soft, because he just calls for general meetings all day (which he won’t even call councils of war) and doesn’t really make any decisions.
Or does that make him a good commander because he recognises that he can’t influence the whole course of history?
Hmm . . . now I’ve confused myself.