Assignments

Second Paper Assignment

Please write an 8-page paper (double spaced with normal 1" margins and standard typeface) that answers one of the following two questions. Alternately, if you want to write on another topic please say so and we will consider it.

1. The Nuclear Revolution and World War II in Europe

  • Imagine that nuclear weapons were invented in 1920, and by 1933 Germany, Britain, France, the Soviet Union and the United States had large nuclear second-strike countervalue capabilities, like those possessed by the U.S. and Soviet Union late in the Cold War. No other powers possess nuclear weapons in 1933. Which causes of World War II in Europe would have been affected, and in what way? Which would not have been affected? Overall, would a war have been more or less likely in 1939? More or less intense? More or less likely to become a world war?

2. The Bioweapons Revolution and World War II in Europe

  • Imagine that potent offensive biological weapons were invented in 1918 or so, and by 1933 Germany, Britain, France, the Soviet Union and the United States had deliverable offensive bioweapons capable of killing millions of people, while none had strong defenses against these weapons. No other powers possess these bioweapons in 1933 but others might soon develop them. Which causes of World War II in Europe would have been affected, and in what way? Which would not have been affected? Overall, would a war have been more or less likely in 1939? More or less intense? More or less likely to become a world war?

You are free to posit that the 1933 bioweapons employ contagious diseases (like smallpox) or non-contagious diseases (like anthrax). You can also posit whether the bioweapons of 1933 could be used anonymously or could be traced back to the attacker; and whether this makes a difference.

Your papers are due during Session 24. You are not required to do outside reading but it is not discouraged.

You may confer with each other as you gather your thoughts.

Make sure your paper includes a clear summary introduction, of perhaps a paragraph. This paragraph should clearly state your question and should summarize your answer.

Be sure to provide historical evidence supporting your argument.

You should get a draft of your paper to your TA a week before the due date deadline to get feedback.

You should footnote statements of fact, using an abbreviated footnote style if you wish. Footnotes do not count toward the length-limit on your paper so use them freely.

For more great writing advice, MIT students should consult the MIT Writing and Communication Center.

Student Example

"A More Disastrous World War II" (PDF)

Note: This example appears courtesy of a MIT student and is anonymous by request.

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