History 32906: Thinking Total War

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NARA FILE #: 208-YE-182 WAR & CONFLICT #: 751


This course focuses on World War II, although the discussion on total war will radiate out backwards and forwards in time. The theme is what military theorists in the nineteenth century had called guerre a outrance, war to the extreme. We want to find out and discuss how soldiers, politicians, academics, and everyday people saw and discussed such themes as comprehensive social and economic mobilization, war against civilians, and the ideological as well as emotional dimensions of war making. We will also be interested to see how and why nations (and militaries) set limits to an all-out escalation and where they thought military necessity ended and war crimes and genocide began. Needless to say that, although Michael Geyer is a specialist in German and James Sparrow a specialist in US history, this kind of exploration will have to take into account the eastern European and Russian as well as the East Asian experience. If time permits, we will also look at colonial and national liberation wars. Caution: This course requires some commitment to extensive reading and active participation.

Instructor: Geyer, M. & Sparrow, J.

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