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Department of International History
London School of Economics and Political Science
Houghton Street

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in Sardinia House (SAR)

Tel: +44 (0)20 7955 6174
Fax: +44 (0)20 7831 4495

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Professor David Stevenson

Stevenson Professor of International History

Other Titles: APRC Review Co-Ordinator
Research Interests:
Modern European international Relations; First World War
Room: SAR.3.11
Tel: +44 (0)20 7955 7115

Professor Stevenson's main fields of interests lie in international relations in Europe during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; origins, course, and impact of the First World War.

His publications include With Our Backs to the Wall: Victory and Defeat in 1918 (Penguin/Harvard University Press, 2011); 1914-1918: the History of the First World War (Penguin Press, 2004) also published by Basic Books (New York) as Cataclysm: the First World War as Political Tragedy; and by Rizzoli (Milan) as La Grande Guerra: una Storia Globale. German edition with Patmos (Düsseldorf, 2006); Armaments and the Coming of War: Europe, 1904-1914 (Oxford University Press, 1996) Paperback edition, 1999; The First World War and International Politics (Oxford University Press, 1988) Paperback edition, 1991; French War Aims against Germany, 1914-1919 (Oxford University Press, 1982) (Edited with introduction), Vols 1-8, 17-21, and 3-35 of Europe, 1948-1914, Series F in Part I of British Documents on Foreign Affairs: Reports and Papers from the Foreign Office Confidential Print (University Publications of America: Frederick, Maryland, 1987, 1990, 1991).

Professor David Stevenson is currently working on ‘In a Dark Time: Strategy and Statecraft in 1917’. An international history of the year 1917, under preparation for Oxford University Press. He has recently co-edited and contributed to a book for Oxford University Press: Arms Races in International Politics from the Nineteenth to the Twenty-First Centuries (2016).

He is the adviser to ‘Europeana 1914-1918 Learning Website’, which so has had nearly 50,000 individual visits.
Finally, Professor Stevenson is a Member of the academic advisory committee for the Imperial War Museum’s new First World War Galleries, scheduled to open on 19 July 2014.

Professor David Stevenson teaches the following courses:

At undergraduate level:

HY116: International History since 1890
(taught jointly with other members of the Department)

HY226: The Great War, 1914-1918 (taught jointly with other members of the Department)

At Masters level:

HY400: International History in the Twentieth Century (taught jointly with other members of the Department)

HY411: European Integration in the Twentieth Century (taught jointly with Dr Ludlow)

He also supervises the following PhD students:

Research Student Provisional Thesis Title
Michael Hemmersdorfer Competing for the Kaiser's ear. The struggle for control over Germany's England policy, 1898-1914
Paul Horsler Cometh the Hour, Cometh the Nation: Local-Level Opinion and Defence Preparations prior to the Second World War, November 1937-September 1939
Nabila Ramdani (2016-17) The Rise of the Egyptian Nationalist Movement: The case of the 1919 Revolution

Watch Professor David Stevenson talk about his courses, how they are structured and how students can benefit from taking them in order to better understand the world we live in today.

HY116: International History since 1890

HY226: The Great War, 1914-1918

HY400: International History in the Twentieth Century

Videos recorded in May 2016 | All information accurate at time of recording


Articles, Pamphlets, Papers, etc.

  • 'French War Aims and the American Challenge, 1914-1918', The Historical Journal, 22, 4 (1979), 877-894
  • 'Belgium, Luxemburg, and the Defence of Western Europe, 1914-1920', The International History Review, 4, 4 (1982), 504-522
  • 'The Failure of Peace by Negotiation in 1917', The Historical Journal, 34, 1, (1991), 65-86
  • 'The End of History? The British University Experience, 1981-1992', Contemporary Record, 7, 1 (1993), 66-85
  • 'French War Aims and Peace Planning', University of California Working Paper 5.19 (University of California: Berkeley, 1994). This paper was given at a conference on 'Versailles: Seventy-Five Years After' at Berkeley in 1994. Now published in The Treaty of Versailles: a Reassessment after Seventy-Five Years, edited by Manfred F. Boemeke, Gerald D. Feldman, and Elisabeth Glaser-Schmidt (German Historical Institute, Washington DC, and Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 1998), 87-109
  • 'Militarization and Diplomacy in Europe before 1914', International Security, 22, 1 (1997), 125-61
  • 'War Aims and Peace Negotiations', in Hew Strachan, ed, The Oxford Illustrated History of the First World War (Oxford University Press: Oxford and New York, 1998), 204-215
  • 'France and the Paris Peace Conference: Addressing the Dilemmas of Security' in Robert Boyce, ed, French Foreign and Defence Policy, 1918-1940: the Decline and Fall of a Great Power (Routledge: London, 1998), 10-29
  • 'War by Timetable? The Railway Race before 1914', Past & Present, 162 (February 1999), 163-194
  • ‘The Politics of the Two Alliances’ in Jay Winter, Geoffrey Parker, and Mary R. Habeck, eds, The Great War and the Twentieth Century (Yale University Press: New Haven, 2000), 69-96
  • ‘French Strategy on the Western Front, 1914-1918’, in Roger Chickering and Stig Förster, eds, Great War, Total War. Combat and Mobilization on the Western Front, 1914-1918 (German Historical Institute, Washington, DC, and Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 2000), 297-326
  • ‘France and the German Question in the Era of the First World War', in Stephen A. Schuker, ed, Deutschland und Frankreich vom Konflikt zur Aussöhnung. Die Gestaltung der Westeuropäischen Sicherheit 1914-1963 (Oldenbourg: Munich, 2000), 1-18
  • ‘International Relations’, in Julian Jackson, ed, Short Oxford History of Europe: Europe, 1900-1945 (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2002), 16-47
  • ‘1918 Revisited’, The Journal of Strategic Studies, 28, 1 (2005), 107-39
  • ‘Grands noms et construction d’une historiographie: l’affaire Fritz Fischer’, in Jean-Jacques Becker, ed, Histoire culturelle de la Grande Guerre (Armand Colin: Paris, 2005), 71-85
  • ‘Britain, France, and the Origins of German Disarmament, 1916-19’, Journal of Strategic Studies, 29, 2 (2006), 195-224
  • '”Inter-War” Strategic and Military Planning, 1871-1914: Context and Themes', chapter in Talbot C. Imlay and Monica Duffy Toft, eds, The Fog of Peace and War Planning: Military and Strategic Planning under Uncertainty (Routledge: Abingdon and New York, 2006), pp. 75-99
  • ‘Battlefield or Barrier? Rearmament and Military Planning in Belgium, 1902-1914’, International History Review, 29, 3 (2007), 473-507  
  • ‘From Balkan Conflict to Global Conflict: the Spread of the First World War, 1914-18’, (based on keynote  lecture at international conference at the University of Illinois, Champaign/Urbana, 2008) Foreign Policy Analysis, 7, 2 (2011), 169-182
  • ‘European Integration and Disintegration in the Era of World War I’, accepted for publication in The International History Review (2012)
  • ‘Fortifications and the European Military Balance before 1914’, Journal of Strategic Studies, 35, 6 (December 2012), 829-859
  • ‘The Relevance of International History’, International Affairs, 90, 1 (2014), 5-22
  • ‘Diplomats’ in Jay Winter, ed, The Cambridge History of the First World War (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 2014), Vol. II, ch. 3, pp. 66-90.

List of publications on LSE Research Online


Professor David Stevenson on BBC Future

Professor David Stevenson contributed to an article on why Britain introduced daylight time saving a hundred years ago for BBC Future on 11 March 2016. Love it or hate it, there’s a stubborn British campaigner one can thank. The article focuses on the builder who changed how the world keeps time. Read it here.
New Publication by Professor David Stevenson

Professor David Stevenson’s newest book was published by Oxford University Press in January 2016. The book, edited with Thomas Mahnken and Joseph Maiolo, is called Arms Races in International Politics: from the Nineteenth to the Twenty-First Century. Professor Stevenson has contributed a section introduction, a chapter, and a conclusion to the book. The volume provides the first comprehensive history of the arms racing phenomenon in modern international politics, drawing both on theoretical approaches and on the latest historical research. It is divided into four sections: before 1914; the inter-war years; the Cold War; and extra-European and post-Cold War arms races. Arms Races in International Politics addresses two key questions: what causes arms races and what is the connection between arms races and the outbreak of wars. Read Chapter 1 here.


Professor David Stevenson's future speaking commitments

Throughout 2014, Professor David Stevenson spoke, among other places, in the Edinburgh International Festival (August), the Japanese National Institute for Defense Studies (September), and the Toronto International Festival of Authors (November).
Articles on World War One

On 1 August 2014, Professor David Stevenson contributed a short post on "LSE and the First World War", followed by another article on 4 August 2014 for Sky News, "World War One And The 'Short-War Illusion'".
BBC: The Railway War, 1914-1918

In August 2014, BBC2 showed a five-part documentary series on Railways of the Great War, a series of five programmes produced by Boundless Productions and presented by Michael Portillo. Professor David Stevenson was the historical consultant for the series and he was interviewed by Michael Portillo in episode 4, On Track to Victory.
BBC One: The Big Questions

On 18 May 2014, Professor David Stevenson appeared on a special edition of The Big Questions, BBC One, on whether the First World War changed Britain for the better.
BBC Two: 'The Pity of War'

On 28 February 2014, Professor Stevenson appeared on a BBC Two debate ‘The Pity of War’ about the First World War programme led by historian Niall Ferguson.