Paret, Peter 1924-
Paret, Peter 1924-
Born April 13, 1924, in Berlin, Germany; immigrated to the United States, 1937; son of Hans and Suzanne Aimee Paret; married Isabel Harris, September 23, 1961; children: Suzanne Aimee, Paul Louis Michel. Education: University of California, Berkeley, B.A., 1949; University of London, Ph.D., 1960, D.Litt., 1992.
Oxford University, Oxford, England, resident tutor, 1959-60; Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, research associate, 1960-62; University of California, Davis, faculty member, 1962-65, professor, 1966—. Stanford University, faculty member, 1966-77, Raymond A. Spruance Professor of International History, 1977-86; Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, Mellon Professor of the Humanities, 1986-97, professor emeritus, 1997—. Cambridge University, Lees Knoles Lecturer on the History of War, 2008, and curator of an exhibition of the graphics of Ernst Barlach in Germany and the United States. Military service: U.S. Army, 1943-46.
American Philosophical Society, American Academy of Arts and Sciences (fellow), Leo Baeck Institute (fellow), London School of Economics (honorary fellow), Clausewitz Geselleschaft (honorary member), Society for Military History.
(With John W. Shy) Guerrillas in the 1960s, Praeger (New York, NY), 1962.
Innovation and Reform in Warfare, U.S. Air Force Academy (Colorado Springs, CO), 1966.
Yorck and the Era of the Prussian Reform, 1807-1815, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 1966.
Frederick the Great, Hill & Wang (New York, NY), 1972.
Clausewitz and the State, Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 1976, 3rd edition, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 2007.
The Berlin Secession: Modernism and Its Enemies in Imperial Germany, Belknap Press (Cambridge, MA), 1980.
(Translator, with Michael Howard) Carl von Clausewitz, On War, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 1984.
(Editor, with Felix Gilbert and Gordon A. Craig, and contributor) Makers of Modern Strategy: From Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1986.
Art as History, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 1988.
(With Beth Irwin Lewis and son Paul Paret) Persuasive Images: Posters of War and Revolution from the Hoover Institution Archives, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 1992.
(Translator, with Daniel Moran) Carl von Clausewitz, Historical and Political Writings, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 1992.
Sammler, Stifter und Museen, Böhlau Verlag (Cologne, Germany), 1993.
Understanding War: Essays on Clausewitz and the History of Military Power, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 1993.
Imagined Battles: Reflections of War in European Art, University of North Carolina Press (Chapel Hill, NC), 1997.
German Encounters with Modernism, 1840-1945, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 2000.
Some of Paret's books have been translated into German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, and Spanish.
Peter Paret has written primarily on the history of military thought and on German cultural history from the eighteenth to the twentieth century. He was born in Berlin, Germany, and lived in Austria, France, and England before coming to the United States in 1937.
Paret's first book was Guerrillas in the 1960s, written with John W. Shy. Paret and Shy examine the history and theory of guerilla warfare, and conclude that the United States would have great difficulty in using guerrillas to overthrow hostile governments. While G.A. Kelly in Political Science Quarterly called the book "an excellent little monograph," Brian Crozier wrote in the Nation: "It seems to me that the authors never really come to grips with the problem in practical terms…. Success depends on gaining the support of the population. Paret and Shy, though they make frequent allusions to ‘political factors,’ never get deeper than a scratch on the surface."
Paret continued his study of guerrilla warfare in French Revolutionary Warfare from Indochina to Algeria: The Analysis of a Political and Military Doctrine. He critically discusses the body of doctrine developed by the French army after their defeat in Indochina, which combined political and psychological measures with the use of force to combat anti-colonial liberation movements. Michael Howard wrote in Encounter: "This 125-page book, not only an authoritative and exhaustively documented survey of the doctrine of la guerre revolutionnaire but virtually its epitaph, is a little classic, and firmly establishes Dr. Paret … as one of the leading authorities on military affairs in the West today."
Paret is known as an expert on military thought and policy in the Napoleonic era. In Yorck and the Era of Prussian Reform, 1807-1815 he interprets the Prussian general as a conservative reformer. A reviewer for Choice wrote that the book is, "a precisely written, but deceptively entitled, volume. Yorck is used only as a peg upon which to hang an intelligent and narrowly conceived treatise on changes in infantry tactics and weapons from Frederick the Great to 1813."
Paret is perhaps best known for his work on the military theorist and political figure Carl von Clausewitz (1780-1831). He has translated Clausewitz's works, and his monograph Clausewitz and the State, contextualizes Clausewitz's military, political, and historical writings with his background and experiences and intellectual influences. Michael Howard wrote in the Times Literary Supplement that Clausewitz and the State is "so substantial that [it] can serve as [a] foundation for Clausewitzian studies for decades to come…. [Paret] sets Clausewitz firmly in his historical and intellectual setting, describing the philosophical, pedagogical and political influences which went to shape his work and showing how that work evolved step by step with Clausewitz's own reading and experience."
Paret's second major interest is the relationship between art, literature, and society. In The Berlin Secession: Modernism and Its Enemies in Imperial Germany, he examines a movement of painters and sculptors who embraced modern art in opposition to the traditional ideology of the academy, and by extension against the intolerance of Emperor William II. The book is a case study of politics influencing art, and art influencing politics. A reviewer for Choice described it as "an admirable study … meticulously researched and gracefully written…. Paret concentrates on the support by Wilhelm II and his regime for the idea of the anti-establishment artist as a Reichsfeinde (enemy of the state) and on how such support both reflected and intensified tendencies in Germany away from moderation and compromise."
Paret's next major work in cultural history, Art as History, was described by Thomas Nipperdey in the Historische Zeitschrift as "an entirely new kind of interdisciplinary history."
In Persuasive Images: Posters of War and Revolution from the Hoover Institution Archives, Paret, his son Paul, and Beth Irwin Lewis discuss posters as historical and ideological documents. Paret selected forty-seven paintings and prints to explicate in his book, Imagined Battles: Reflections of War in European Art, in which he considers how art illustrates and comments on war, on war's effects on society, and on society's morals. Martin Chasin in Library Journal noted that as Paret examines each work of art: "Each then becomes more than a work of art; it is evidence of outlook and feeling."
Paret reedited the classic collection of essays, Makers of Modern Strategy, originally published in 1943 by Edward Mead Earle. He retained seven essays of the original edition, and added twenty-two new ones, of which he wrote the ones on Napoleon and on Clausewitz himself. The essays are case studies of significant theorists and practitioners of war, and together outline the history of warfare in Western society from Machiavelli to the nuclear age. Scott D. Sagan in the New Republic explained the need for this revision: "In the nuclear age, two contradictory beliefs influence the way military historian and strategists think about the relationship of the present to the past. The first is best expressed by Santayana's often cited maxim that he who ignores the past is condemned to repeat it. The second belief is the opposite—that nuclear weapons have so transformed the world that pre-Hiroshima military history is irrelevant or even dangerously misleading."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, October 1, 1992, Gilbert Taylor, review of Persuasive Images: Posters of War and Revolution from the Hoover Institution Archives, 234.
Canadian Journal of History, April, 1998, Sarah M. McKinnon, review of Imagined Battles: Reflections of War in European Art, p. 143.
Central European History, summer, 1992, Dennis E. Showalter, review of Carl von Clausewitz: Historical and Political Writings, p. 352.
Choice, July, 1967, review of Yorck and the Era of Prussian Reform, 1807-1815, p. 4; February, 1981, review of The Berlin Secession: Modernism and Its Enemies in Imperial Germany, p. 786; March, 1993, S. Skaggs, review of Persuasive Images, p. 1132.
Encounter, April, 1965, Michael Howard, review of French Revolutionary Warfare from Indochina to Algeria: The Analysis of a Political and Military Doctrine, p. 24.
European History Quarterly, January, 1994, Daniel Moran, review of Understanding War: Essays on Clausewitz and the History of Military Power, p. 130.
Historical Journal, June, 1994, Jeremy Black, review of Understanding War, p. 477.
Historische Zeitschrift, spring, 1991, Thomas Nipperley, review of Art as History, p. 210.
History: Journal of the Historical Association, February, 1995, Andrew Lambert, review of Understanding War, p. 80.
History Today, June, 1993, David Chandler, review of Understanding War, p. 58.
Journal of Military History, July, 1992, Hew Strachan, review of Carl von Clausewitz, p. 497; April, 1993, Hubert C. Johnson, review of Understanding War, p. 324; April, 1998, John M. MacKenzie, review of Imagined Battles, p. 386.
Library Journal, October 1, 1992, review of Persuasive Images, p. 84; November 15, 1997, Martin Chasin, review of Imagined Battles, p. 55.
Nation, February 10, 1962, Brian Crozier, review of Guerrillas in the 1960s, p. 122.
National Interest, winter, 1997, John Keegan, review of Imagined Battles, p. 87.
New Republic, September 8, 1986, Scott D. Sagan, review of Makers of Modern Strategy, pp. 34-38.
Orbis, spring, 1993, Daniel Pipes, review of Persuasive Images, p. 297.
Political Science Quarterly, June, 1962, G.A. Kelly, review of Guerrillas in the 1960s, p. 263.
Publishers Weekly, September 7, 1992, review of Persuasive Images, p. 89.
Times Literary Supplement, June 25, 1976, Michael Howard, review of Clausewitz and the State, p. 754.