Charles Lipson
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E-mail: [email protected]


Charles Lipson

Peter B. Ritzma Professor

Political Science Department

University of Chicago

5828 S. University Ave.

Chicago, IL 60637


World Politics in the Twentieth Century, 1905-45: A History

Political Science 21500 & 32500
Charles Lipson

University of Chicago
Syllabus, Autumn 2003

Course Time: 1:30 til 2:50--Monday, Wednesday Prof. Lipson's office is Pick 418b
Classroom: Social Sciences 122 Office Hours: Tuesday 2:30-3:30
To find out your section, please go to this page.   E-mail: [email protected]
In e-mails about this course, please put PS215 somewhere in subject line.
Final Paper due:
• Wednesday, December 10, 4pm in Pick 418 (Prof. Lipson's office).
• Papers will be returned in Pick 401, the Pol.Sci. office.

Course Description

This course provides a survey of major wars, the development of states' military and financial capacity, the course of imperial expansion and retreat, diplomatic alignments and alliances, arrangements for international trade and investment, as well as efforts to create international institutions. In short, it surveys the history of modern inter-state relations in the twentieth century.

This course uses multimedia extensively. Class presentations feature computerized maps, graphs, historical photos and paintings, and newspapers from the period. I also show my lecture notes in class (although not online). To give a flavor of the historic periods we cover, the class presentations include propaganda posters and political cartoons. In this online syllabus, I have included links to appropriate collections of online documents, as well as historical speeches and radio broadcasts from the period (in streaming RealAudio). Listening to these broadcasts is a wonderful way to gain a sense of the historic moments, with their tensions and uncertainties about the future.

This course covers the period from the origins of World War I through World War II, including key elements of international history needed for further study of international politics and IR theory. The course extensively uses multimedia presentations to show maps, historical events, and national leaders. Besides diplomatic relations among the Great Powers, the course examines long-term trends in economic development and military force.

This course is intended for advanced undergraduates and graduate students in the social sciences, particularly those working on international relations. Its goal is to provide historical grounding for theorizing about international relations. There is no prerequisite for this course. This is one of four related courses on the history of international politics, each of which can be taken independently:

Undergrad & Grad     

World Politics from the 1490s to 1815: A History

Political Science 213 & 323
Great Power Politics in the Nineteenth Century: A History Political Science 214 & 324
World Politics in the Twentieth Century, 1914-45: A History Political Science 215 & 325
The Cold War, 1945-91: A History Political Science 216 & 326
Big Wars: Ancient, Medieval, and Early Modern Political Science 291 & 392

To cover so much material, even in a survey fashion, requires intensive reading. This is a heavy reading course, and, I hope, an equally rewarding one. Please note that it is an introductory survey course and not a research course. Students with a strong background in modern history should take other, more advanced courses that encourage detailed inquiry and independent research.


Basic Course Requirements

There are two writing assignments in addition to the required readings:

timeline + dictionary: chronology of events during one selected period in the nineteenth century, plus an annotated list of people, places, and events related to your chronology (approximately 15 events, 15 dictionary items)

major paper: review of historical writings about one major period, country, or event

There are no examinations in this class.

Pick one issue or theme within the time period of the course and create (a) a timeline of major events related to that topic and (b) a dictionary of key people and events for that same topic, with brief descriptions. If possible, please put the exact day of any event you list. The timeline and dictionary may be done as small group projects, with friends in the class if you wish. This is a real opportunity for group learning.

For your major paper, take the same topic as your timeline and then consider how different historians look at it. Consider yourself a fair-minded "referee" among the different viewpoints. First, you should lay out the different perspectives clearly and coherently. What are their varied strengths and weaknesses? Where do they agree and disagree? Where do they emphasize different issues and different evidence? You may wish to conclude by explaining which perspective (or combination of perspectives) you find most convincing.

Please note that this is not an original research paper. It is an essay discussing key debates among historians on a major international issue, such as the origin of a specific war or the breakdown of an alliance. It should be an informed, critical review of the historical literature on a selected time period or topic. In effect, you will serve as an informed "referee" of a debate among historians on a topic that interests you.

No Plagiarism: The timeline, dictionary, and major paper must all be your original work. Of course, you will need to consult reference works and scholarly monographs, in print and online. But you must scrupulously avoid any significant "borrowing" (especially verbatim borrowing) or any "cutting and pasting" from others' works. That would misrepresent other people's work as your own and is plagiarism. When you rely on others' work, be sure to cite it fully and use quotation marks to denote any verbatim usage.

Plagiarism is a basic violation of academic rules and will result in failing the course. If you have questions, please consult Sources: Their Use and Acknowledgement, available online (published by the Dartmouth and adopted by the University of Chicago).

Please note that all co-authors of the timeline and dictionary are held jointly responsible for ensuring the academic integrity of the work, just as they are held jointly responsible for its quality.

For a detailed discussion of the timeline and dictionary, including examples, click here.

For a detailed discussion of the historiographic essay, click here.

Goals of this Course

1. Provide a concise, general history of international and diplomatic events and sequences, especially those bearing on Great Power relationships;

2. Draw connections, where possible, between the historical materials and analytic questions of interest to IR theorists;

3. Incorporate international economic issues, which are too often slighted in political and diplomatic histories. They should be included for two reasons.

a. They are often a central object of state policy, especially since states were charged with political responsibility for the performance of their economies.

b. They are a source of countries' rise to great power status. Germany became a great power not only because the Prussian military was so efficient or because Bismarck unified it under Prussian leadership, but also because northern Germany was the largest and most dynamic industrial power of the late 19th century. Spain disappeared as a Great Power because of its economic decline.

Administrative Details

Books are available at UC/Barnes & Noble Bookstore and the Seminary Cooperative Bookstore.
Books are also on reserve at the Regenstein Library.
Undergraduates normally enroll in PS 215.
Graduate students enroll in PS 325.
Students have weekly discussion sections, which will be assigned in Week 2.
No lecture on Wednesday of Thanksgiving Week.
No sections during Thanksgiving Week.

When Are the Papers Due?

Week 5 Dictionary and Timeline are due at Wednesday lecture; give to your TA.
For a detailed discussion of the timeline and dictionary click here
Week 7 A brief description of your proposed major paper is due at your section meeting. The description should be 100-200 words, plus a list of 2 or 3 books and articles you intend to use in the paper.
Week 11
Exam Week
Major paper is due Wednesday of exam week, 4pm, Pick 418 (Lipson office).
For a detailed discussion of the historiographic essay, click here

All papers must have a title and must include your name, phone, TA, and e-mail address. Please staple; don't use a paperclip.

Extensions: In unusual or difficult circumstances, students may request an extension for the major paper. The request must be in writing (by letter or e-mail) and should give specific reasons why the extension is needed. All requests must be made via e-mail directly to the appropriate teaching assistant (not to Mr. Lipson). If any special extension is granted, then the paper must be turned in by date given by the TA. Except for cases of serious illness or personal difficulties, no extensions will be made for any date later than Friday, 4 p.m., on the first week of the following quarter.

Required Books

The readings rely on three books. You should purchase all three.

General Text J. M. Roberts, Twentieth Century: The History of the World, 1901 to 2000
Military Larry H. Addington, The Patterns of War Since the Eighteenth Century
War Origins Donald Kagan, On the Origins of War
Akira Iriye, The Origins of the Second World War in Asia and the Pacific

Main Topics and Required Readings
plus Supplementary Readings and Speeches

  1. Turning Points of the Twentieth Century

    J. M. Roberts, Twentieth Century, Chapter 1

  1. Origins of the Great War

    Donald Kagan, On the Origins of War, Chapter 2: "The First World War 1914-1918"

    Larry H. Addington, The Patterns of War Since the Eighteenth Century, Chapter 3

  1. Fighting the Great War

    Roberts, Twentieth Century, Chapter 8

    Larry H. Addington, The Patterns of War, Chapter 4

    Supplementary readings:

     online documents about World War I (at Mount Holyoke)

    online documents about World War I (at BYU)

    online maps about World War I (at US Military Academy)

  1. The Treaty of Versailles and the Roaring Twenties
  2. Roberts, Twentieth Century, Chapters 9, 10

    Supplementary readings:

    online documents about the interwar period

    Supplementary speeches (RealAudio):

    Henry Cabot Lodge Opposing the League of Nations

  3. The 1930s: A Low, Dishonest Decade
  4. Roberts, Twentieth Century, Chapters 11, 12

    Supplementary speeches (RealAudio):

    Pres. Roosevelt's First Inaugural Address (4 March 1933) "Nothing to fear but fear itself" (20 minutes)

    Sigrid Schultz News Report on Munich Conference (28 August 1938)

    Chamberlain's Praise for the Munich Pact (1938)

  5. Origins of World War II in Europe

    Donald Kagan, On the Origins of War, Chapter 4: "The Second World War 1939-1945"

  1. World War II in Europe
  2. Roberts, Twentieth Century, Chapter 13

    Addington, The Patterns of War, Chapter 6 (Parts I, II)

    Supplementary readings:

    online documents about World War II

    online maps about World War II in Europe (at US Military Academy)

    Supplementary speeches (RealAudio):

    Edward R. Murrow news from London, 3 Days before Nazi Invasion of Poland (28 August 1939)

    William Shirer news from Berlin, 3 Days before Nazi Invasion of Poland (28 August 1939)

    Shirer After Invasion of Poland broadcast from Berlin (7 September 1939)

    Chamberlain Declares War Against Nazi Germany (3 September 1939)

    Churchill's first speech as Prime Minister, On the Battle of France (1940)

    Shirer Fall of France broadcast from Berlin (21 June 1940)

    Murrow in Trafalgar Square during Air Raid

    Churchill on The Battle of Britain (1940) "This was their finest hour"

    Murrow during London Blitz (20 September 1940)

    Lindbergh's Speech for Isolationism (11 September 1941)

    Roosevelt's Speech Declaring War on Japan (8 December 1941) "Day of Infamy"

    Eisenhower's Broadcast to Soldiers about to Embark on D-Day  (5 June 1944)

    Murrow at the Liberation of Buchenwald Death Camp (15 April 1945)

    Gabriel Heatter newscast on VE Day (8 May 1945)

    Truman's Speech Announcing Surrender of Nazi Germany (May 1945)

  3. Origins of World War II in the Pacific

    Akira Iriye, The Origins of the Second World War in Asia and the Pacific

  1. World War II in the Pacific
  2. Roberts, Twentieth Century, Chapter 13

    Addington, The Patterns of War, Chapter 6 (Parts III, IV)

    Supplementary readings:

      online documents about bombing of Hiroshima

    online maps about World War II in the Pacific (at US Military Academy)

    Supplementary speeches (RealAudio and video on RealPlayer):

    Truman's Announcement of A-Bombing of Hiroshima (excerpt August 1945)

    Truman threatens Japan with a "Rain of Ruin" if they do not surrender after Hiroshima

    Gabriel Heatter newscast on Eve of VJ Day (13 August 1945)

    Truman's Speech to US after Japan Signed Unconditional Surrender (September 1945)

  3. Changes in Military Technology in the 20th Century

         Addington, The Patterns of War, review previous assignments

  1. Optional: International Political Economy in the 20th Century

         Rondo Cameron, A Concise Economic History of the World, 3rd ed.; Chapters 13-16.

  1. Optional: Imperialism in the Middle East

         David Fromkin, A Peace to End All Peace: Creating the Modern Middle East 1914-1922 (NY: Henry Holt, 1989).

Course Requirements Explained in Greater Detail

1. Chronology (or timeline) of key events in one historical period. This might be the failure of the Versailles peace settlement, the rise of the Nazi Party, the decline of empires after World War II, the Cold War in Europe or Asia (or both), East Asia in the 20th century, or a number of others. Pick a period or theme that interests you. If you are uncertain what constitutes an appropriate time period, please consult Professor Lipson or your teaching assistant. Because of this course's focus, the paper, dictionary, or timeline must concentrate on the period of the course, that is, between 1914 and 1945. Some post-1945 material may be included to complete a paper or timeline that concentrates on an earlier period.

What a timeline should do? A timeline should list the major events in proper sequence, with dates given for each. It should provide a few essential details to clarify the event; the dictionary entry should offer more detail. Here, for example, is the beginning of a timeline:

Sample Timeline: French Expansion in the Age of Richelieu and Louis XIV


Henry IV (ruled 1589-1610), founder of the Bourbon dynasty, he was Henry of Navarre;
Duke of Sully served as his great finance minister


Edict of Nantes (13 April 1598) issued by Henry IV. Henry, a Protestant who converted to Catholicism to become king, grants religious toleration to French Huguenots.


Henry IV assassinated by a Catholic fanatic, François Ravaillac (14 May 1610).
Marie de' Médicis served as regent, governing France for her ten-year-old son, King Louis XIII; she dismissed Sully, arranged Louis XIII's marriage to the Spanish princess, Anne of Austria (daughter of Philip III of Spain)


Louis XIII (king, 1610-43; ruled 1614-43). Louis XIII was declared of age in 1614, but was always a weak figure, controlled by others


Edict of Nantes is reconfirmed by the Treaty of Montpelier (18 October 1622); the treaty leaves La Rochelle and Montauban to the Huguenots.


Cardinal Richelieu (Armand-Jean du Plessis, the Cardinal-Duke of Richelieu) as chief minister of France, under Louis XIII; later, he trained Cardinal (Jules) Mazarin as his protege.


Related to the timeline, you should produce a brief dictionary covering 15 or more key events and people during the same period covered by the chronology. Dictionary entries should range between 10 and 50 words, providing brief definitions and discussions for each entry. Dictionary entries should provide key dates and briefly explain the significance of major events, people, and places.

What should dictionary lists include? Let me give some examples. A list covering the early Cold War would certainly include the "Truman Doctrine," "Berlin Blockade," "NATO," "European Recovery Program," and "NSC-68," among others. Some entries, like the formation of NATO, might be longer and should list the initial members of the alliance. On the other hand, it is a dictionary entry, not a monograph, so be concise. When individuals are mentioned, the entry should include their full name, years of birth and death, and years in high office, e.g., George C. Marshall (1880-1959), General of the U.S. Army and its chief of staff during World War II (1939-45), Secretary of State (1947-49) and Secretary of Defense (1950-51).

You can, if you wish, produce a chronology and dictionary covering a theme, rather than a time period. For example, you might cover "major issues in international trade" (listing the biggest treaties, disputes, etc.) or "developments in applied military technology" or "the rise of the Nazi party."

PLEASE NOTE: The chronology and dictionary may be either "group projects" or "individual projects." That is, 2-5 students may organize themselves to produce the timeline and dictionary as group projects. This is an excellent opportunity for group learning, not just on the written projects but on the assigned readings as well. By the same token, students are free to do the projects individually if they choose. If some students do decide to work as a group, then their dictionaries and timelines should be somewhat more extensive than individual assignments. The group should not only divide the work, they should review each other's efforts and produce a genuine joint product. Each group project will receive a single grade, which will apply equally to all participants. The grades for the timeline and dictionary will constitute about 30 percent of your grade for the course. The remaining 70% comes from the historiographic essay, which you must write individually.

2. Write a historiographic essay, approximately 12-15 pages, double-spaced. This essay should be done individually, not in groups. It may cover any time period or theme in the course. It need not cover the same time period as the chronology and dictionary (although it can, if you wish).

The historiographic essay should examine a major topic and analyze the debates among historians, as well as giving your own considered view. It must cover at least three major books or articles, and will likely include more than that. The essay is not intended as original research. Its main point is to review (critically) the perspectives of major historians on some important theme or historical period. For example, you might choose to write about the origins of a major war, such as World War II in the Pacific or the Korean War. Or you might choose to write about the rise of protectionism in the 1930s or the growth of free trade after World War II. Or you might choose to write about the continuities (or discontinuities) of British foreign policy (or French, or German, or Russian, etc.). You might want to discuss how economic growth affected Great Power relationships--as that is understood by major historians writing on the subject. Your job is not so much to explain the specific phenomenon but to describe and analyze the major schools of thought on the subject, their strengths and weaknesses, and the direction of recent historical research. In short, you should provide an informed, critical guide to the literature.

Most topics in this course are the subjects of vigorous historical debate. You may choose your own topic from among them. Why, for instance, did Europe divide Africa into formal colonies in the late 19th century after centuries of informal imperialism? Historians differ on the basic reasons for this change. Similarly, you might consider the decline of imperialism in the 20th century. You might select a topic covering the whole time period of the course, such as the incorporation of military technology into warfare. There are certainly different historical schools dealing with the "military revolution."

Before writing your historiographic essay, please write a one-page precis and get approval of the topic from Mr. Lipson or your teaching assistant. The precis should list the topic of the essay, briefly outline some of the major historical debates on it, and then list some key books and articles to be included. The clearer your precis, the better chance we have to advise you. Remember: the time period should be between 1914 and 1991 (even though the course lectures may not go as far as the end of the Cold War).

The assigned projects might well require students to share books. If that proves difficult, please let us know. We will put these books on reserve for everyone to use. All required and listed supplementary books are on reserve.

FAQs on Timeline/Dictionary and Essay

Can I do my timeline/dictionary on a different topic from my long essay?
Yes, but it's not such a great idea. It should be your last resort, not your first. Still, it's not prohibited.

The course builds up to writing the longer essay, where you assess historians' contending views on a major topic of your choosing. When you write this essay, it really helps to know the sequence of events and the important actors. You'll know them after you've written the dictionary/timeline, so you'll be able to concentrate on historians' varied ideas and interpretations, not the basic unfolding of events.

Sometimes, however, you run into problems and need to change topics. You may gradually discover that the topic of the timeline/dictionary doesn't interest you very much. So you finish the timeline/dictionary and then turn to a different topic for your major essay. Or you may find that, when you begin reading historians' views, there really aren't any big debates about your original topic. In either case, you are welcome to change topics after consulting with your T.A.

But don't start out working on a timeline/dictionary that you know will be different from your essay. And remember that the timeline must be on the same topic as the dictionary.

Who should approve my topic? My section leader or Professor Lipson?

Your T.A.  If you are graduate student in Professor Lipson's section, then he's your T.A.  If not, then e-mail or talk with your section leader.  Of course, you are always welcome to talk with Professor Lipson, but your approval should come directly from your T.A.

Can I extend my essay to satisfy the political science department's requirement for a 20-page paper?

Yes, if you follow some rules. For this course, write the normal 15-page historiographic essay and turn it in to your section head, who will review it for your class grade. After the class ends, you are welcome to extend it to a 20+ page paper and submit it to Professor Lipson for approval. You do not need to seek prior approval from your T.A. or from Professor Lipson. Simply submit 3 items to Professor Lipson, at his office: (1) the 20+ page paper, (2) the original class paper with TA comments; and (3) a two- or three-paragraph statement of what you've done to expand the paper and why that makes sense intellectually. All should be copies so the material does not need to be returned to you. Please enclose all these items in a manilla envelope, together with your e-mail address and paperwork for approval. Prof. Lipson has no specific due date for turning in these longer papers, but (1) you need to give him some time to read the paper and (2) you need to check with the department about its deadlines.


Supplementary Readings and Specialized Readings for Papers

Since the course requires papers, you will need to do more detailed readings to explore your paper topics. To aid your search for the best readings, please feel free to ask your section leaders or me for suggestions.

For a strong collection of modern history resources on the Web, please see my page
     Scholarly Resources-Modern History.

Among the most useful books as general background for the course are:

William R. Keylor, The Twentieth Century World: An International History, 4th ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001).   This is an excellent and detailed general text that usefully supplements the assigned Roberts’ book.

Edward Whiting Fox, The Emergence of the Modern World (Cambridge, MA and Oxford, UK: Basil Blackwell, 1991).

J. M. Roberts, A History of Europe (New York: Allen Lane, 1996).     D20.R645 1997 Harp

Eric Hobsbawm, The Age of Extremes: A History of the World, 1914-1991 (New York: Pantheon, 1994). D421.H5820 1994

Rondo Cameron, A Concise Economic History of the World: From Paleolithic Times to the Present (4th ed.; New York: Oxford University Press, 2001). Paperback ISBN: 0195127056

David Fromkin, A Peace to End All Peace: Creating the Modern Middle East 1914-1922 (New York: Henry Holt, 1989). Hardback ISBN: 0805008578  Paperback 0805068848:

The Fox book essentially begins with the French Revolution (he has a little material on the earlier period) and goes up through the Cold War. Roberts covers a longer period and in greater depth, but focuses exclusively on Europe. Hobsbawn’s book is also an intelligent overview, global in its coverage, but much more opinionated. Cameron is a useful overview of the economic issues. All are well-written and require no prior knowledge of the subjects.

Online documents covering specific periods:

online documents about World War I

online documents about the interwar period

online documents about World War II

Supplementary Readings on the Nineteenth Century

For supplementary readings on the Nineeteenth Century, go to the syllabus for 19th c. World Politics

Supplementary Readings on Inter-War Years

Graham Ross, The Great Powers and the Decline of the European States System 1914-1945 (London: Longman, 1983.     a succinct and clear summary of the period.

Supplementary Readings on Early Cold War

Melvyn P. Leffler, A Preponderance of Power: National Security, the Truman Administration, and the Cold War (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1992).

Marc Trachtenberg, A Constructed Peace: The Making of the European Settlement, 1945-1963 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1999).   D1058 .T718 1999

Required Books

Available at U. of C./Barnes & Noble Bookstore, Seminary Coop and Regenstein Library Reserve.

J. M. Roberts, Twentieth Century: The History of the World, 1901 to 2000 (Penguin USA, 2000). Paperback ISBN: 0140296565   Also available as hardback from Viking. ISBN: 0670884561    call number: D421.R54 1999

Larry H. Addington, The Patterns of War Since the Eighteenth Century (2nd ed.; Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1994). Paperback ISBN: 0253208602    call number: U39 .A33 1994

Donald Kagan, On the Origins of War (NY: Doubleday, 1995). Anchor Paperback ISBN: 0385423756    call number: D25.5.K270 1995

Akira Iriye, The Origins of the Second World War in Asia and the Pacific (NY: Longman, 1987). Paperback ISBN: 0582493498    call number: D742.J3I750 1987

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