The readings are also available by session. This course also has an extensive set of further readings.

Required Texts

[Meaning] = Buy at Amazon Haffner, Sebastian. The Meaning of Hitler. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1979. ISBN: 9780297775720.

[Pacific] = Buy at Amazon Ienaga, Saburo. The Pacific War, 1931-1945. New York, NY: Pantheon, 1979. ISBN: 9780394734965.

[War] = Buy at Amazon Iklé, Fred. Every War Must End. Revised ed. New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 1991. ISBN: 9780231076890.

[Peloponnesian] = Buy at Amazon Thucydides. History of the Peloponnesian War. Translated by Rex Warner. Baltimore, MD: Penguin, 1954. ISBN: 9780140440393.

[Military] = Buy at Amazon Miller, Steven E., Sean M. Lynn-Jones, and Stephen Van Evera. Military Strategy and the Origins of the First World War. Revised ed. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1991. ISBN: 9780691023496.

[Nations] = Buy at Amazon Stoessinger, John. Nations at Dawn. 6th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 1994. ISBN: 9780070616264.

Buy at MIT Press [Cold War] = Buy at Amazon Lynn-Jones, Sean M., and Steven E. Miller, eds. The Cold War and After: Prospects for Peace. Expanded ed. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1993. ISBN: 9780262620888.

[Warning] = Buy at Amazon Rees, Martin. Our Final Hour: A Scientist's Warning: How Terror, Error, and Environmental Disaster Threaten Humankind's Future in this Century - On Earth and Beyond. New York, NY: Basic Books, 2003. ISBN: 9780465068623.

I also recommend—but don't require—that students buy a copy of the following book that will improve your papers:

Buy at Amazon Turabian, Kate L. A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations. 6th ed. Rev. by John Grossman and Alice Bennett. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1996. ISBN: 9780226816272.

Turabian has the basic rules for formatting footnotes and other style rules. You will want to follow these rules so your writing looks spiffy and professional.

Readings by Session

Session 2-3 topics:
Eight hypotheses on military factors as causes of war
Buy at Amazon Ziegler, David. "Disarmament." Chapter 15 in War, Peace and International Politics. 2nd ed. Boston, MA: Little, Brown, 1981, pp. 249-267. ISBN: 9780316984935. A basic discussion of a modest proposal: tossing the weapons in the ocean. A good idea?
Buy at Amazon Schelling, Thomas C. "The Dynamics of Mutual Alarm." In Arms and Influence. New Haven, CT: Yale, 1966, pp. 221-251. ISBN: 9780300143379. The classic statement of "stability theory" which frames the dangers that arise with a first-strike advantage.
Buy at Amazon Blainey, Geoffrey. "Dreams and Delusions of a Coming War." Chapter 3 in The Causes of War. 3rd ed. New York, NY: Free Press, 1988, pp. 35-56. ISBN: 9780029035917. False optimism as a cause of war.
Van Evera, Stephen. "Primed for Peace: Europe After the Cold War." In [Cold War] pp. 204-211.

Note: these page are 20% of the article; much of the rest (pp. 204-236) is assigned over the next two weeks. Please focus for now on pages 193-203, which discuss the crucial matter of offense, defense, and war.

I include this article partly to clue you to my reflexes on the causes of war. Your skepticism is allowed.

Session 4-7 topics:
Misperception and war; religion and war; 10 Hypotheses on misperception and the causes of war; hypotheses form psychology; militarism; nationalism; spirals and detererrence; relgion and war; defects in academe and the press
Buy at Amazon Jervis, Robert. "Hypotheses on Misperception." In International Politics: Anarchy, Force, Political Economy, and Decision Making. 2nd ed. Edited by Robert J. Art and Robert Jervis. Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Co, 1985, pp. 510-526. ISBN: 9780316052399. A classic discussion of the delusions to which states are prone. Is Jervis' list of myopias a good one? Do they arise from the psychological sources he stresses, or are other causes at work?
Buy at Amazon ———. Perception and Misperception in International Politics. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1976, pp. 58-84. ISBN: 9780691100494. Some say conflict is best resolved by the carrot, while using the stick merely provokes; others would use the stick, warning that using the carrot ("appeasement") emboldens others to make more demands. Who's right? Probably both - but under what circumstances? and how can you tell which circumstances you are in?
Van Evera, Stephen. "Primed for Peace." In [Cold War] pp. 204-211.  
Hedges, Chris. "In Bosnia's Schools, 3 Ways Never to Learn From History." New York Times, November 25, 1997, A1. It was once said that "war begins in the classroom." Is that such a silly notion? Do the Balkans' separate realities, and the Balkan wars of the 1990s, stem from separate and divergent teaching of the past?
Buy at Amazon Benjamin, Daniel, and Steven Simon. The Age of Sacred Terror. New York, NY: Random House, 2002, pp. 38-55, 61-68, 91-94, and 419-446. ISBN: 9780375508592.

Pages 38-55, 62-68, 91-94 describe the Islamist currents of thinking that spawned Osama Bin Laden's Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda's violence stems from a stream of Islamist thought going back to ibn Taymiyya, a bellicose Islamic thinker from the 13th century; to Abd al-Wahhab (1703-1792), the harsh and rigid shaper of modern Saudi Arabian Islam; to Rashid Rida (1866-1935) and Hassan al-Banna (?-1949); and above all to Sayyid Qutb (?-1966), the shaper of modern Islamism. Taymiyya, al-Wahhab and Qutb are covered here. Covered also (pp. 91-94) is the frightening rise of apocalyptic thinking in the Islamic world. What causes the murderous thinking described here?

Pages 419-446 cover the phenomenon of millenarianism (apocalyptic thinking) in other religions—Judaism, Buddhism, and Christianity. This violent, even genocidal (globacidal?) form of religious thought has appeared widely in the last two decades. Why? How can it be tamed before it is used to justify great horrors?

Mishra, Pankaj. "The Other Face of Fanaticism." New York Times, February 2, 2003, Late edition. The Hindu extremist movement of India is painted here, lest anyone think the Muslim world has a corner on murderous religious fanaticism.
Lampman, Jane. "Mixing Prophecy and Politics." Christian Science Monitor, July 7, 2004. Christians of the premillennial dispensationalist perspective oppose an Israel-Palestinian peace settlement. Their larger objective: destroying the world.
Buy at Amazon Morgenthau, Hans J. "The Purpose of Political Science." In A Design for Political Science: Scope, Objectives, and Methods. Edited by James C. Charlesworth. Philadelphia, PA: American Academy of Political and Social Science, 1966, pp. 69-74. ISBN: 9780836917895. Are scholars part of the solution or part of the problem? An eminent professor of international relations says his colleagues are gutless wonders who won't tell the state or society when they are wrong.
Pearson, David. "The Media and Government Deception." Propaganda Review (Spring 1989): 6-11. Pearson thinks the American press is obedient to official views, and afraid to criticize. Anti-establishment paranoia or the real picture?
Gilbert, Daniel. "He Who Cast the First Stone Probably Didn't." New York Times, July 24, 2006. Wars start because each side thinks the other provoked them while they were behaving well.
Manji, Irshad. "Is Islam to Blame? Despite Claims of Moderate Muslims, a Literal Reading of the Koran Offers Cover for Acts of Terrorism." Los Angeles Times, July 22, 2005. The Koran contains hateful passages and passages that incite to violence. What to do about them? Does it cut it for Muslims to continue to declare that the entire Koran is the sacred word of God? What about Manji's suggestion that Muslims confess some "sins of Scripture"?
Session 8-9 topics:
14 more causes of war and peace: Culture, gender, language, democracy, social equality and social justice, minority rights and human rights, prosperity, economic interdependence, revolution, capitalism, imperial decline and collapse, cultural learning, emotional factors (revenge, contempt, honor), polarity of the international system; c
auses of civil war
Bellak, Leopold. "Why I Fear the Germans." (op-ed) New York Times, April 4, 1990, p. A29; and "Responses." New York Times, May 10, 1990, A30. Germany has a flawed national character. Fair? If not, what explains past German conduct? If true, is this satisfying?
Harris, Louis. "The Gender Gulf." New York Times, December 7, 1990, A35. The problem is: men? (Women are more dovish.)
Buy at Amazon Goldstein, Joshua S. "Feminism." In International Relations. New York, NY: Harper Collins, 1993, pp. 282-295. ISBN: 9780065018646. A good basic summary of feminist arguments on the causes of war.
Buy at Amazon Mearsheimer, John. "Back to the Future: Instability in Europe After the Cold War." In [Cold War]. Five theories of war-causation are discussed there. Note: you might skim the rest of the Mearsheimer article as well, to get his whole drift.
Van Evera. "Primed for Peace." In [Cold War] pp. 211-236. On the democracy and polarity questions, who is more persuasive, Mearsheimer or this guy?
Eriksson, Mikael, and Peter Wallensteen. "Armed Conflict 1989-2003." Journal of Peace Research 41, no. 5 (September 2004): 625-631. Nearly all wars today are civil wars. The number of wars has declined sharply since 1990 - back down to the number observed in the mid-1970s, but still more than the number observed during 1946-76. Will these trends continue?
Buy at MIT Press Buy at Amazon Brown, Michael E., ed. "Introduction." In The International Dimensions of Internal Conflict. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1996, pp. 1-31. ISBN: 9780262522090. A survey of hypotheses on the causes of internal conflict.
Lee, James R. "Global Warming in Just the Tip of the Iceberg." Washington Post, January 4, 2009, B03. Global warming will cause war. Specifically, warming will create vast flooding and desertification, which will create hordes of refugees, who will clash with those in their new host-countries. Warming will also open new conflicts between states, who will quarrel over newly-valuable mineral rights in the now-ice-free arctic. What fun! And another happy thought: Will warming create a new rationale for anti-western WMD terror by destroyed societies?
Session 10 topic:
The Seven Years War
Buy at Amazon Palmer, R. R., and Joel Colton. "The Great War of the Mid-Eighteenth Century." In A History of the Modern World. 7th ed. New York, NY: Knopf, 1991, pp. 273-285. ISBN: 9780679410140. This is a standard textbook summary of events. Please focus on pp. 278-281, dealing with the outbreak of the Franco-British war.
Buy at Amazon Smoke, Richard. "The Seven Years War." In War: Controlling Escalation. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1978, pp. 195-236. ISBN: 9780674945951. Smoke's chapter is a good historical synopses of this war. What general theories of war causes does his account support? How might this war have been prevented? By whom?
Session 11 topics:
The wars of German unification: 1864, 1866, and 1870; Segue to World War I
Buy at Amazon Ziegler, David. "The Wars for German Unification." Chapter 1 in War, Peace and IR. 2nd ed. Boston, MA: Little, Brown, 1981, pp. 7-20. ISBN: 9780316984935. A (very) basic history.
Session 12-14 topics:
World War I
Buy at Amazon Palmer, R. R., and Colton, Joel. "The First World War." In History of the Modern World. 7th ed. New York, NY: Knopf, 1991, pp. 695-718. ISBN: 9780679410140. This is assigned to provide basic background for non-aficionados of WWI.
Buy at Amazon Geiss, Imanuel. German Foreign Policy, 1871-1914. Boston, MA: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1976, pp. vii-ix, 75-83, 106-181, and 206-207. ISBN: 9780710083036. The key pages are pp. 121-127, 142-150, and 206-207 - focus on these pages and read the rest more lightly. (Make sure not to miss the tale of the War Council of 8 December 1912, including Admiral Müller's notes on the Council.) This book summarizes the views of the "Fischer School," which argues that German aggression was a prime cause of World War I. Others believe Fisher and Geiss blame Germany unduly. Who's right?
Buy at Amazon Strachan, Hew. The First World War. Vol. 1, To Arms. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2001, pp. 51 (bottom)-55 (bottom). ISBN: 9780198208778. Strachan, an anti-Fischerite, thinks that the December 8 1912 War Council was no war council at all, but rather an indecisive bull session of sorts. Are his reasons persuasive?
[Military] pp. xi-xix and 20-108. A Europe-wide "Cult of the Offensive" caused the war; the militaries of Europe were responsible.
Buy at Amazon Kitchen, Martin. "The Army and the Idea of Preventive War," and "The Army and the Civilians." Chapters 5 and 6 in The German Officer Corps, 1890-1914. Oxford, UK: Clarendon, 1968, pp. 96-142. ISBN: 9780198214670. In Germany the army also purveyed the concept of preventive war, the notion that war was healthy and beneficial, and other exotic ideas; and within Germany it became a law unto itself - a "state within the state," in Gordon Craig's phrase.
Langsam, Walter Consuelo. "Nationalism and History in the Prussian Elementary Schools Under William II." In Nationalism and Internationalism: Essays Inscribed to Carlton J. H. Hayes. Edited by Edward Mead Earle. New York, NY: Columbia University Press 1950, pp. 241-260. German elementary and high schools were channels of nationalist propaganda.
Buy at Amazon Joll, James. Origins of the First World War. 2nd ed. New York, NY: Longman, 1992, chapter 2, pp. 9-34. ISBN: 9780582089204.

A summary of the events of the strange and amazing July crisis.

For more on World War I origins see the World War I Document Archive.

Buy at Amazon Mommsen, Wolfgang J. "Nationalism, Imperialism and Official Press Policy in Wilhelmine Germany 1850-1914." In Collection de l'Ecole Francaise de Rome, Opinion Publique et Politique Exterieure I 1870-1915. Milano: Universita de Milano/Ecole Francaise de Rome, 1981, pp. 367-383. ISBN: 9782728300327.

For more on the role of German public opinion in causing the war
Session 15 topics:
Interlude: Hypotheses on escalation and limitation of war; Nuclear weapons, nuclear strategy, other weapons of mass destruction and the causes of war
[War]  pp. 1-105. Can war be rationally conducted and controlled? This superb book makes you wonder.
Buy at Amazon Ziegler, David. "The Balance of Terror." In War, Peace and International Politics. 2nd ed. Boston, MA: Little, Brown, 1981, pp. 221-234. ISBN: 9780316984935. A basic rundown of the issues.
[Warning] pp. 1-24, 41-60, and 73-88.

The advance of science has a fearsome byproduct: we are discovering ever more powerful means of destruction. These destructive powers are being democratized: the mayhem that only major states can do today may lie within the capacity of millions of individuals in the future unless we somehow change course. Deterrence works against states but will fail against crazed non-state organizations or individuals. How can the spread of destructive powers be controlled?

For more on controlling the longterm bioweapons danger see "Controlling Dangerous Pathogens: A Prototype Protective Oversight System." (a monograph by John Steinbruner and Elisa Harris.)

Kelly, Henry C. "Terrorism and the Biology Lab." New York Times, July 2, 2003. The biology profession must realize that its research, if left unregulated, could produce discoveries that gravely threaten our safety. Biologists must develop a strategy to keep biology from being used for destructive ends.
Session 16-19 topics:
World War II
Buy at Amazon Palmer, R. R., and Joel Colton. A History of the Modern World. 7th ed. New York, NY: Knopf, 1991, pp. 798-799 and 822-849. ISBN: 9780679410140. This is a basic standard history of the events leading up to the war.
[Meaning] pp. 3-165.  
Herwig, Holger. "Clio Deceived: Patriotic Self-Censorship in Germany After the Great War." In [Military] pp. 262-301. How Germans mis-remembered the origins and aftermath of the First World War.
Buy at Amazon Wette, Wolfram. "From Kellog to Hitler (1928-1933). German Public Opinion Concerning the Rejection or Glorification of War." In The German Military in the Age of Total War. Edited by Wilhelm Deist. Dover, NH: Berg, 1985, pp. 71-99. ISBN: 9780907582144. How Germans came to love war again so soon after the Marne and Verdun. What explains the bizarre developments Wette describes?
Buy at Amazon Sagan, Scott. "The Origins of the Pacific War." In The Origins and Prevention of Major Wars. Edited by Robert I. Rotberg and Theodore K. Rabb. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1989, pp. 323-352. ISBN: 9780521379557.  
[Pacific] pp. vii-152 and 247-256. Was the Japanese decision for war a rational response to circumstances, or in some sense "irrational"? Ienaga and Sagan disagree - who's right?
Buy at Amazon Utley, Jonathan G. Going to War With Japan 1937-1941. Knoxville, TN: University of Tennessee Press, 1985, pp. 151-156. ISBN: 9780870494451.  
Buy at Amazon Heinrichs, Waldo. The Threshold of War: Franklin D. Roosevelt and American Entry into World War II. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1990, pp. 141-142, 177, and 246-247 (note 68). ISBN: 9780195061680. Was the crucial American decision to cut off oil exports to Japan taken by a bureaucracy out of control? Utley and Heinrichs disagree. How can this mystery be unravelled?
Goldhagen, Daniel Jonah. "Letter to the Editor." New York Review of Books, February 6, 1997, 40. A summary of Goldhagen's famous argument that Germany committed the holocaust because most Germans embraced an eliminationist anti-semitism. How could we test Goldhagen's argument?
Kristoff, Nicholas. "A Tojo Battles History, for Grandpa and for Japan." New York Times, April 22, 1999. Mythmaking about Japan's role in World War II continues, stirring suspicion and anger elsewhere in Asia.
Session 20-21 topics:
The Cold War, Korea and Indochina
Buy at Amazon Paterson, Thomas G., J. Gary Clifford, and Kenneth Hagan. American Foreign Policy: A History Since 1900. Lexington, VA: D.C. Heath, 1983, pp. 471-480, 519-539, and 546-563. ISBN: 9780669045673.  
[Nations] pp. xi-119. Paterson, et al. is a standard history; Stoessinger is interpretive.
Session 22-23 topics:
The Israel-Arab conflict; The 2003 U.S.-Iraq war
Buy at Amazon Humphreys, R. Stephen. "The Arab Israeli Conflict." Between Memory and Desire: The Middle East in a Troubled Age. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1999, pp. 46-59. ISBN: 9780520214118. Arabs and Israelis both see themselves as victims, with tragic results.
Buy at Amazon Shlaim, Avi. "The Middle East: Origins of the Arab-Israeli Wars." In Explaining International Relations Since 1945. Edited by Ngaire Woods. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1996, pp. 219-236. ISBN: 9780198741961. (skim 219-221, read 221-236.) Highlights of the Arab-Israeli wars of 1948, 1967, 1969-70, 1973, and 1982 and the Persian Gulf War of 1991 are outlined here.
Buy at Amazon Van Evera, Stephen. "The Israeli-Palestinian Flashpoint." In Flashpoint in the War on Terrorism. Edited by Derek S. Reveron and Jefferey Stevenson Murer. New York, NY: Routledge, 2006, pp. 1-10 and 15-21. ISBN: 9780415954907. The history, causes, consequences, and solution for the Israeli-Arab conflict in a nutshell.
Shavit, Ari. "Survival of the Fittest." Ha'aretz, January 14, 2004. Shavit interviews Benny Morris, one of Israel's leading historians, on the realities and ethics of Israel's expulsion of 700,000-750,000 Palestinians during the 1948 war. In the past Morris led in exposing the expulsion; now he is a prominent defender of it, arguing that sometimes ethnic cleansing is necessary.
Bumiller, Elisabeth. "Was a Tyrant Prefigured by Baby Saddam?" New York Times, May 15, 2004. Saddam Hussein was severely abused as a child and as a result suffered narcissism and other personality disorders. Does this help explain the 1991 and 2003 Iraq wars? Can the U.S. deter or coerce such people if it better understands their personal demons?
Buy at Amazon Stoessinger, John G. Why Nations Go To War. 9th ed. Belmont, CA: Thompson Wadsworth, 2004, pp. 273-308. ISBN: 9780534631475. An account of the 2003 U.S.-Iraq war.
al-Mughrabi, Nidal. "Hamas Says It Still Seeks Israel's Destruction." Washington Post, March 17, 2007. Does extremist Islam fuel the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Hamas adheres to a started goal of destroying Israel. Why? A Hamas statement declares that "we will not betray promises we made to God."
Session 24 topics:
The Peloponnesian War
[Peloponnesian] pp. 35-108, 118-164, 212-223, 400-429, 483-488, and 516-538. A famous history by a great strategist that many later readers, across many centuries, felt evoked their own times and tragedies.
Session 25-26 topics:
Testing and applying theories of war causation; the future of war; solutions to war
Kaysen, Carl. "Is War Obsolete?" In [Cold War] pp. 81-103. Kaysen says past causes of war are already gone. But if he's right, why does war continue?
Buy at Amazon Ziegler, David. "World Government," and "Collective Security." Chapters 8 and 11 in War, Peace and IR. Boston, MA: Little, Brown, 1981, pp. 127-45 and 179-203. ISBN: 9780316984935. Many people have offered these answers. Do you think they would work? (Why haven't they been implemented yet?)
Robbins, Carla Anne. "Thinking the Unthinkable: A World Without Nuclear Weapons." New York Times, June 30, 2008. Former Republican Secretaries of State George Shultz and Henry Kissinger, former Democratic Secretary of Defense William Perry, and former Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sam Nunn—all former nuclear hawks—want to pursue global nuclear disarmament. A radical idea from very established people. Should we do this?
Buy at Amazon Huntington, Samuel P. The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, 1996, pp. 209-218 and 254-266. ISBN: 9780684811642. ("Islam and the West," and "Islam's Bloody Borders.")
Buy at Amazon Review again Benjamin and Simon. Age of Sacred Terror. New York, NY: Random House, 2002, 38-55, 61-68, 91-94, and 419-446. ISBN: 9780375508592. Review again Rees, Our Final Hour, pp. 41-60, and 73-88 (assigned above.)
Bush, George W. "Second Inaugural Address." Inauguration, Washington, DC, January 20, 2005. President Bush announces a U.S. policy of promoting freedom and liberty, on grounds that "as long as whole regions of the world simmer in resentment and tyranny... violence will gather and multiply in destructive power, and cross the most defended borders, and raise a mortal threat.... The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom."

Further Readings

Cause of War, General and Theoretical Works

Arms and War



Gender and War

Nationalism-General Works

Ingroup-Outgroup Dynamics

Nationalist Mythmaking

Democratic Peace Theory/Dictatorial Peace Theory

Human Instinct Theories of War

Religion and War

Civil War-Its Control

Negotiation and Diplomacy


Limited War

Arms Races

General Surveys of Global International History

General Surveys of European International History

The Seven Years War

The Crimean War

The Italian Wars of Independence

The Wars of German Unification

World War I (place anchor link on page 10 where WWI category starts, and then place anchor links for the specific sub-topics below. )

World War II in Europe

The Pacific War

The Origins of the Cold War

The Korean War

The Indochina War

The Peloponnesian War

The 1990-1991 Persian Gulf War

The Cuban Missile Crisis

The Arab-Israel Conflict (repeat process as you did for WWI)

U.S. Domestic Politics/The Christian Right and Israel/The Israel Lobby

Anti-semitism-The Root of the Evil

Soviet Military Policy Western Analyses

The Terror War

The U.S.-Iraq War, 2003-

Other Recent Wars