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Hugo theorizes about the “art” of warfare and the executive strengths of men such as Napoleon, Blucher, and Wellington. He emphasizes the importance of gathering the data: exact positions of clumps of trees, rocks and boards. Then there is a chaotic aspect to each engagement, where the organization breaks down into eddies of hand-to-hand or regimental skirmishes, on various scales of strategy and conflict.

The general is responsible for specific preparation, to the last detail, and communicating the plan clearly to the troops, but during the engagement that plan will be modified in the field as each man decides to move on the spur of a moment. The general must expect this eventuality, and allow the events to unfold in chaos to some degree without interference at some level, all the while inspiring the troops and calling out orders clear and hard at just the right scale.

Each frame of life has its differences and each culture its language, and the leader must assess which details are important, how to prepare his troops, and when to use his/her authority. Still, one thing remains constant: that the leader must be trusted.