History 380:
The History of War

(Most recent revision: February 9)

Professor Mark Grimsley
Winter Quarter 2008

Phone: 292-1855 (I'm rarely in; email is the preferred mode of contact)
Office: 330 Dulles Hall

Office Hrs: Wednesdays, 1:30-3:30 p.m., and by appointment

Email me (Please put "History 380" in the subject line)


Pat Crawford; office hours TR, 10-11 a.m. in 207 Dulles Hall; and by appointment
Email crawford.376@osu.edu

Robyn Rodriguez; office hours W, 1:30-3 p.m. in 009 Dulles Hall; and by appointment
Email rodriguez.266@osu.edu


This course is an introduction to the salient concepts and problems involved in the study of military history. It also addresses the effect of war on human society and development and examines the significance of war in human culture. 

Although it examines war from prehistoric times to the present, the course is thematic rather than chronological—less a survey of wars and military developments per se than a survey of the main concepts involved in studying war. Among the issues we will explore are the following:

What are the attractions of war? (Click to read one opinion in Utne magazine.)

What do we (in the contemporary western experience) mean when we speak of war, and what are the main causes of war?

How have other cultures thought about war? (This would include both nonwestern cultures and western cultures of other times; e.g., classical Rome)

Is there a characteristic "western way of war"? How does it differ from the "ways of war" adopted by other cultures? Why have western powers proven so formidable?

How important is war in shaping human affairs?

What are the human dynamics involved in battle? What motivates combatants? What factors encourage, inhibit, or otherwise influence the use and effectiveness of violence?

Can war be controlled or eliminated? What strategies have been proposed to accomplish these objectives?

Objectives/Learning Outcomes

By completing the requirements for this course, students will:

1. Acquire a perspective on attempts to understand the human experience and the factors that shape human activity, particularly in time of war.

2. Develop critical thinking through the study of diverse interpretations of historical events, and gain the ability to evaluate the worth of historical analogies when applied to contemporary affairs.

3. Apply critical thinking through historical analysis of secondary sources; that is to say, sources that interpret historical events based on study of primary (e.g., eyewitness) accounts and to illuminate larger patterns in the human past..

4. Sharpen communications skills in exams, papers, discussions.

5. Develop and demonstrate an understanding of the qualities of the warrior ethos (self-discipline, determination, responsibility, honor, loyalty to comrades, etc.) as they apply in both military and civilian life.

For history majors, this course fullfills the requirement for a pre-1750 and post-1750 course in either Group A or Group B.


All students must be officially enrolled in the course by the end of the second full week of the quarter. No requests to add the course will be approved by the department chair after that time. Enrolling officially and on time is solely the responsibility of each student.

Make-up Exam Policy

If for any family or medical reason you find it absolutely necessary to miss an examination, you must contact me in advance if you wish to take a make-up examination. You must also provide sufficient documentation of the reason for your inability to attend: doctor's note, hospital papers, obituary notices in the case of a loved one, etc. If you do not produce this documentation, you will not be permitted to take a make-up examination. Make-up examinations are administered by the history department at certain scheduled times during the quarter. If you are permitted to take a make-up examination, it will be at one of those times. False excuses regarding an inability to take an examination, and/or false documentation, will be treated as academic misconduct and prosecuted accordingly.

Please consider the implications of this policy carefully, as it will be strictly enforced.

Academic Misconduct

It is the responsibility of the Committee on Academic Misconduct to investigate or establish procedures for the investigation of all reported cases of student academic misconduct. The term academic misconduct includes all forms of student academic misconduct wherever committed; illustrated by, but not limited to, cases of plagiarism and dishonest practices in connection with examinations. Instructors shall report all instances of alleged academic misconduct to the committee (Faculty Rule 3335-5-487). For additional information, see the Code of Student Conduct.

Here is a direct link for discussion of plagiarism.

Here is the direct link to the OSU Writing Center.

Disability Services

Students with disabilities that have been certified by the Office for Disability Services will be appropriately accommodated, and should inform the instructor as soon as possible of their needs. The Office for Disability Services is located in 150 Pomerene Hall, 1760 Neil Avenue; telephone 292-3307, TDD 292-0901.


Attendance is not mandatory. However, tardiness needs to be controlled in order to avoid distracting the instructor and students. If you are only a minute late, feel free to come into class via the rear entrance. If you are more than a minute late, please wait until twenty minutes til the hour, at which time all students who are late will be admitted. If you are late beyond that, please wait until the next bell (at eighteen minutes after the hour). I appreciate your cooperation in this matter.


Christon I. Archer et al. World History of Warfare. The basic textbook for the course. It is much more detailed than we'll actually need in the course, and it is organized somewhat differently than the course lectures. The specific pages indicated in the lecture schedule refer to the pages most closely associated with a given topic. You'll want to skim the surrounding material as needed to consolidate a grip on the material covered in class.

Shannon E. French, The Code of the Warrior: Exploring Warrior Values Past and Present. We'll read this book completely, and it will figure prominently on both midterm examinations.

Michael Walzer, Just and Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument With Historical Illustrations. We'll read this book completely as well, and it will figure prominently on the final examination. You should have a solid grasp of the moral argument that Walzer makes. Read his case studies primarily as examples. To avoid being overwhelmed at the end of the quarter, start reading Walzer as soon as possible. The lecture schedule indicates chapters that are particularly relevant to the lecture on a given day.

Additional readings. Links to the readings are provided in the lecture schedule. Readings are mandatory except where indicated as optional.

Course Requirements

First midterm examination  (250 points)
Second midterm examination (350 points)
Final examination (400 points)
TOTAL POSSIBLE:  1000 points

Course Study Guide

Week 1. (January 4)

Lecture 1. Introduction to the Course

Lecture 2. The Nature of War

Carl von Clausewitz's Definition of War; John F. Guilmartin, Jr.'s Working Definition of War; Robert L. O'Connell's Definition of War

Week 2. (January 8, 10)

Lecture 3. Why Military History Matters

Mark Grimsley, Why Military History Matters; James Thurber, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty; optional: Mark Grimsley, New Approaches to Teaching Military History, Preface, Creasy's Fifteen Decisive Battles of World History 

Lecture 4. War Before Civilization

WHOW, 1-8; Charles Darwin on Warfare and Natural Selection; Thomas Hobbes on Humans in a State of Nature; Seville Statement on Violence, 1986

Lecture 5. War in Early Civilization

WHOW, 9-42; MAP:  Eastern Hemisphere in 1000 BC

Lecture 6. War in Early Civilization, cont'd

WHOW, 9-42

Week 3 (January 15, 17)

Lecture 7. The Homeric Warrior Code

French, foreword, ch. 1, ch. 2

Lecture 8. War and Classical Greece

WHOW, 62-102; Walzer, preface, ch. 1

Lecture 9. War in Ancient China

WHOW, 49-59

Lecture 10. The Code of the Warrior in China

French, ch. 7

Week 4. (January 22, 24)

Lecture 11. War in Ancient Rome

WHOW, 62-102

Lecture 12. The Roman Warrior Code

French, Ch. 3

THURSDAY, January 24: FIRST MIDTERM EXAMINATION. For details, see First Midterm Study Guide (updated)

Week 5. (January 29, 31)

Lecture 13. The Fall of Rome and the Byzantine Dilemma

WHOW, 103-139

Lecture 14. War and Early Islam

WHOW, 140-170

Lecture 15. War in Medieval Europe

WHOW, 140-170; French, chs. 4, 5

Lecture 16. The Problem of Moral Judgment in War I: Pacifism, Just Wars, and Holy Wars

WHOW, 163-169; 228-231, 256-260; 281; Walzer, chs. 2-13

Walzer, chs. 2-13

Week 6 (February 5, 7)

Lecture 16. War in Medieval Japan

WHOW, 204-213

Lecture 17. The Code of the Samurai

French, ch. 8

Lecture 18. The Old and New Worlds in Collision

WHOW, 240-242

Lecture 19. The Military Revolution in Europe

WHOW, 242-273; Outline Map of Europe ; optional: Geoffrey Parker, "The Military Revolution, 1560-1660: A Myth?" (you will need an OSU connection to access this article online via J-STOR)

Week 7. (February 12, 14)

Lecture 20. The Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries in Europe

WHOW, 178-376

Lecture 21. The Age of Democratic Revolution

WHOW, 380-408

THURSDAY, February 14: SECOND MIDTERM EXAMINATION. Second Midterm Study Guide (not yet updated)

Week 8. (February 19, 21)

Lecture 22. Wars of Imperialism and the Native American Warrior Code

WHOW, 440-480

Lecture 23. Total War

WHOW, 410-438; 483-546; Walzer, chs. 14-17

Lecture 24. Genocide

The Wannsee Protocol; optional: Ernst Jannings confesses his guilt (an excerpt from the film Judgment at Nuremberg); Rwanda, 1994; optional but recommended:  The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

Lecture 25. The Cold War and the Garrison State

WHOW, 549-560; National Security Council Memo 68 (NSC-68); Eisenhower on the Military-Industrial Complex

Week 9. (February 26, 28)

Lecture 27. Theories of People’s War and Wars of National Liberation

Excerpts from the Writings of Mao Zedong and Che Guevara; optional: Mao Zedong, On Guerrilla Warfare; Che Guevara, Guerrilla War: A Method

Lecture 28. The Theory and Practice of Nonviolent Resistance

Principles of Satyagraha; M. K. Gandhi, The Power of Nonviolence; Thomas Merton, The Gentle Revolutionary; Martin Luther King, Jr. On War and Peace; King, Letter from a Birmingham Jail and other documents; optional: Biography of Martin Luther King, Jr. King, The Social Organization of Nonviolence

Lecture 29. Vietnam

WHOW, 562-573, 579-587

Lecture 30. The Problem of Moral Judgment in War II - The Contemporary World

Review all of Walzer to date; chs. 18-19, afterword

Review all of Walzer to date; chs. 18-19, afterword

Week 10. (March 4, March 6)

Lecture 31. The End of the Cold War and the New World Order

WHOW, 573-579, 590-591

Lecture 32. The Meanings of 9/11

French, ch. 9; required: "We Have Some Planes" and "The Foundations of the New Terrorism," from The 9/11 Commission Report; Fareed Zakaria, "The Politics of Rage: Why Do They Hate Us?"; Victor Davis Hanson, "Why Do They Hate Us?"

Lecture 33. The Iraq War: The Decision to Go to War

"The Neoconservative Persuasion"; Project for the New American Century web site; Bombing Iraq Isn't Enough; optional but recommended: President Bush's Commencement Address at West Point, June 2002

Final Examination: in class, Wednesday, March 12, 11:30 - 1:18 PM


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