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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 ‘1917: War, Peace, and Revolution'. An international history of the year 1917, under preparation for Oxford University Press. The book will appear in October 2017.

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 far has had nearly 1.2 million individual visits.
Finally, Professor Stevenson is a Member of the academic advisory committee for the Imperial War Museum’s new First World War Galleries, which opened 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


Great Centenary Lecture and Future Book Publication

On 21 March 2017, Professor Stevenson was a guest speaker at the University of Birmingham Great War Centenary Lectures, where he gave a talk on “1917 Revisited”. In its fourth series, the lectures aim to commemorate the anniversary of the First World War. They are organised by the Centre for War Studies, Department of History, University of Birmingham. Professor Stevenson’s focus on 1917 is not incidental. He is currently working on 1917: War, Peace, and Revolution, an international history of the year 1917, under preparation for Oxford University Press. The book is due for release in October 2017. It is the first international study of the events of the year 1917, a turning point in the history of the First World War and the evolution of the modern world. The book marks the centenaries of key events, including the Russian Revolutions, American entry into WWI, and the Montagu Declaration. It examines how the war was transformed, but also what kept it going and why it continued to escalate. It blends political and military history, moving from capital to capital, and from the cabinet chamber to the battle front. Read more about Professor Stevenson’s upcoming book in the publisher’s website (OUP).
Events Aimed at School Students

Professor Stevenson, a specialist in the First World War, participated in the The Great War Debate, which took place on 7 March 2017 in Birmingham and covered the topic “Peace Settlements: Did the Western Allies Win the War but Lose the Peace?”. The Great War Debate is a series of interactive panel discussions, sponsored by the Department of Education, featuring leading historians and academics aimed at helping to improve students’ knowledge of the causes and consequences of the First World War. The purpose is to get young people to think and talk about the events of a hundred years ago. Panels have run approximately monthly since June 2016 and will carry on into 2018. For more information visit The History Press. Professor Stevenson was also lead judge for the national final of the Historical Association (HA) school public-speaking competition, Great Debate. The final was held in the Imperial War Museum on 11 March 2017. Students addressed the question "How did the First World War affect me and my community?”. After twenty five-minute talks and much deliberation from the judges, Professor Stevenson announced that Hannah Boyle from Benton Park School in Leeds was this year’s winner of the Great Debate. Historian and HA Fellow Paula Kitching claims in the HA’s website that "Hannah spoke eloquently about medical developments from the Thomas Splint to CBT with a well-researched and thoughtful argument.” Read about the event in the Historical Association website.


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

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.


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.