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Department of International History
London School of Economics and Political Science
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Professor David Stevenson

Stevenson Chair of International History

*On sabbatical leave 2014-2015*

Research Interests:
Modern European international Relations; First World War
Room: EAS.E604
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 is also editing and will be contributing to edited book for Oxford University Press: ‘Arms Races in International Politics from the Nineteenth to the Twenty-First Centuries’.   

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:

HY226: The Great War, 1914-1918|

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
Paul Horsler British Public Opinion and Germany, 1937-1939
Mahon Murphy Prisoners of War and Civilian Internees Captured from the German Colonies during the First World War
Charles Sorrie Censorship of the French Press, 1917-1918


  • French War Aims against Germany, 1914-1919 (Oxford University Press: Oxford, 1982)
  • The First World War and International Politics (Oxford University Press: Oxford, 1988) [paperback edition, 1991; reissued, 1999]
  • Editor (with introduction) of Volumes 1-8, 17-21, and 33-35 of Europe, 1848-1914, series F in Part I of K. Bourne and D. Cameron Watt (general editors), British Documents on Foreign Affairs: Reports and Papers from the Foreign Office Confidential Print (University Publications of America: Frederick, Maryland, 1987, 1990, 1991)
  • Editor (with introduction) of Volumes 1-12 of The First World War, 1914-1918, series H in Part II of British Documents on Foreign Affairs (University Publications of America: Frederick, Maryland, 1989)
  • Armaments and the Coming of War: Europe, 1904-1914 (Oxford University Press: Oxford, 1996; paperback edition, 1999)
  • The Outbreak of the First World War: 1914 in Perspective (Macmillan: Basingstoke, 1997) (Rights sold in 2008 to Peking University Press for Chinese translation expected to be published in 2010)
  • 1914-1918: The History of the First World War (Penguin: London, 2004); North American edition: Cataclysm: the First World War as Political Tragedy (Basic Books: New York, 2004) [both also published in paperback, 2004]. Italian translation: La Grande Guerra: una Storia Globale (Rizzoli: Milano, 2004), also La Prima Guerra Mondiale, vol. 21 of Storia Universale (special edition for La Corriere della Sera, Milano, 2004). German translation: 1914-1918: Der Erste Weltkrieg (Artemis & Winkler, Düsseldorf, 2006). Swiss German edition; Spanish translation 1914-1918: Historia de la Primera Guerra Mundial ‘Debate’, owned by Penguin Random House, Barcelona, 2013. Rights agreed for Croatian edition, with Fraktura, 2013, scheduled for publication, June 2014. Publication with Editora Figura, Brazil, forthcoming.
  • (edited with Professor Holger Afflerbach), An Improbable War? The Outbreak of World War I and European Political Culture before 1914 (Berghahn Books, New York and Oxford, 2007).  Joint authored introduction (pp. 1-12) and single-authored chapter 7 ‘Was a Peaceful Outcome Thinkable? The European Land Arms Race before 1914’, pp. 130-48
  • With Our Backs to the Wall: Victory and Defeat in 1918 (Allen Lane: London, May 2011). US edition (Harvard University Press: Cambridge, Mass.), September 2011. Rights for Portuguese edition with Ferro e Aço, agreed 2013.  

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's future speaking commitments

Throughout 2014, Professor David Stevenson will be speaking, 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.



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