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Military History Civilians
by
Adam R. Seipp

Introduction

The concept of the civilian in wartime as a legal category is fairly new, but the problem is far older. Noncombatants have been a target of organized violence throughout history, with records of mass killing and the systematic destruction of infrastructure dating to the earliest written descriptions of armed conflict. In medieval and early modern warfare, noncombatants were targets of military violence as well as crucial to the supply and operation of armies. The relationship among civilians, military conflict, and the state began to change with the creation of national states after the revolutionary wars of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. This process accelerated dramatically during the one hundred years that followed the middle of the 19th century, an age characterized by the rise of “total war.” The boundaries that separated civilians from soldiers, combatants from noncombatants, and frontline from home front blurred and sometimes all but vanished. A host of reasons account for this, including technological advances that extended combat far into the enemy’s rear area, mass mobilization, the close relationship between war and industrial production, and totalizing ideologies that sanctioned violence against civilians. At the same time, the early 20th century also saw systematic international efforts to protect noncombatants in wartime and to legally classify them as civilians. The period since the end of World War II has witnessed an international effort to formally define and shield civilians from state-sanctioned violence and targeting by nonstate actors. Global events since the fall of Communism have not been particularly encouraging in this regard. This bibliography intends to introduce readers to major works that examine this problem throughout history, with a particular focus on the period from 1800 to 2000. It will also provide guidance for those seeking to learn more about specific aspects of the civilian experience of war, such as strategic bombing, international humanitarian law, and genocide.

General Overviews

This section covers both theoretical literature on civilians in wartime and synthetic works that examine the phenomenon across conventional geographic and historical boundaries. The works listed in this section come from a variety of disciplines, reflecting the range of academic interest in the problem of civilians and war. Most (Conway-Lanz 2006, Downes 2008, Grimsley and Rogers 2002, Slim 2008) are particularly interested in the real or perceived military utility of targeting civilians. Walzer 2000 offers a philosopher’s perspective on justice, war, and the role of civilians in warfare in the modern world. Others (Larson and Savych 2007) explore the relationship between public opinion and civilian casualties, while the rest focus on the lingering effects of trauma emerging from conflicts in which civilians are extensively targeted (Heineman 2011, Krippner and McIntyre 2003).

  • Conway-Lanz, Sahr. Collateral Damage: Americans, Noncombat Immunity, and Atrocity after World War II. New York: Routledge, 2006.

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    This book examines debates in the United States over balancing military expediency with the protection of noncombatants. In this interesting study, likely to inspire discussion, Conway-Lanz makes a strong case for open dialogue about the limits of war and military power.

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  • Downes, Alexander. Targeting Civilians at War. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2008.

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    Using a variety of historical examples, Downes explores the conditions under which regimes pursue strategies of “civilian victimization.” In a highly readable text, Downes asks questions about how actors in conflicts decide to target civilians, even if such a strategy does not seem directly relevant to ending the conflict.

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  • Grimsley, Mark, and Clifford Rogers, eds. Civilians in the Path of War. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2002.

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    Collection of essays by leading historians, detailing cases of violence against civilians through history. The volume raises issues of the perceived utility of anticivilian violence and the effect that such violence has on populations compelled to endure it.

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  • Heineman, Elizabeth, ed. Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones: From the Ancient World to the Era of Human Rights. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011.

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    This collection covers a wide range of historical examples and is based on an expansive definition of sexual violence. It is a very good example of productive dialogue between historical and human rights literature and offers insights for students and conflict intervention practitioners alike.

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  • Krippner, Stanley, and Teresa McIntyre, eds. The Psychological Impact of War Trauma on Civilians: An International Perspective. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2003.

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    An international study of the effects of war on mental health, with a particular interest in innovative approaches to treating the psychological wounds of war. Useful in its entirety for graduate courses or as individual chapters for undergraduate coursework on modern war.

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  • Larson, Eric V., and Bogdan Savych. Misfortunes of War: Press and Public Reactions to Civilian Deaths in Wartime. Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 2007.

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    Based on a series of high-profile incidents involving American forces and civilian casualties, this study seeks to assess media coverage and public reactions in the United States. The volume explores the perceptions of Americans as well as the belief among enemies of the United States that Americans are sensitive to civilian casualties.

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  • Slim, Hugo. Killing Civilians: Method, Madness, and Morality at War. New York: Columbia University Press, 2008.

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    Slim’s passionate work presents an overview of the targeting of civilians through history and a closely argued meditation on the rise and persistence of “anti-civilian ideologies” that allow and encourage such violence.

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  • Walzer, Michael. Just and Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument with Historical Illustrations. 3d ed. New York: Basic Books, 2000.

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    In one of the most important studies of morality in warfare, Walzer gives considerable attention to the role of civilians in wartime and the question of responsibility for protecting civilians in times of conflict.

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Ancient and Medieval Warfare

Historians and other scholars working on the ancient and medieval periods have paid less attention to civilians in wartime than have those studying later periods. This has much to do with limited sources and a lack of first-person accounts from “ordinary” people. Armies tended to be smaller, ad hoc formations that reflected the social order and hierarchies of premodern societies. Clearly, however, noncombatants were very important and, as these studies suggest, often became strategic targets in warfare during the period ranging from ancient Greece to the end of the Latin Kingdoms (Hanson 1998, Pegg 2008, Rogers 2000, Rogers 1992). Supply and logistics also involved noncombatants, who might benefit from supplying armies or might be plundered by soldiers living off the land (Lynn 1993, Harari 2000). In cases in which empires crossed linguistic and cultural boundaries, armies could act as catalysts for hybridization and exchange (Alston 1996, Pollard 2001).

  • Alston, Richard. Soldier and Society in Roman Egypt. London: Routledge, 1996.

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    Study of Rome’s army in Egypt that is particularly rewarding because it examines the experience of former soldiers who integrated into Egyptian society and helped to create durable relationships between conqueror and conquered.

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  • Hanson, Victor Davis. Warfare and Agriculture in Classical Greece. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.

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    Remarkable study that debunked much of what historians and classicists believed about Greek warfare. Hanson, a farmer himself, argues that the ravaging of agriculture that features prominently in contemporary accounts of classical warfare was actually far too intensive of time and labor. This book helped to open new fields of research in the history of ancient warfare and of war and society.

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  • Harari, Yuval Noah. “Strategy and Supply in Fourteenth-Century Western European Invasion Campaigns.” Journal of Military History 64.2 (April 2000): 297–333.

    DOI: 10.2307/120242Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article challenges much of the existing literature on the supply of armies on campaign during the medieval period. Harari argues that armies lived off the land far less than traditional accounts suggest and that medieval supply systems could be more robust than they are often believed to have been.

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  • Lynn, John, ed. Feeding Mars: Logistics in Western Warfare from the Middle Ages to the Present. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1993.

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    Several essays in this longer volume examine the problems of logistics in the ancient and medieval periods. These essays emphasize the critical role of supply in determining both military strategy and operations.

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  • Pegg, Mark Gregory. A Most Holy War: The Albigensian Crusade and the Battle for Christendom. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.

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    Sensitive and clearly articulated study of the crusade in southern France during the early 13th century. Pegg argues that the campaigns, aimed at crushing a heretical sect, were badly misdirected and that the terrible violence against noncombatants helped to set the stage for later assaults on other marginal groups.

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  • Pollard, Nigel. Soldiers, Cities, and Civilians in Roman Syria. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2001.

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    Study of the relationship between the Roman army and urbanization in the Middle East. Pollard usefully covers issues of economic, cultural, and social exchange in order to understand the formation and durability of Rome’s empire.

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  • Rogers, Clifford. War Cruel and Sharp: English Strategy under Edward III, 1327–1360. Woodbridge, UK: Boydell and Brewer, 2000.

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    This important study of medieval warfare highlights the central role of destructive raids directed against enemy noncombatants (chevauchée) in warfare of the period.

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  • Roger, Randall. Latin Siege Warfare in the Twelfth Century. New York: Clarendon, 1992.

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    This is a very useful overview of the most common type of military engagement during the Middle Ages. Civilians were obviously disproportionately affected by siege warfare, a fact that often gets less attention than more commonly depicted open battles.

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Early Modern Period, 1500–1789

This tumultuous and violent period in Europe and the Atlantic world witnessed the transformation of military and bureaucratic institutions that many historians now call the “Military Revolution.” Europeans made war frequently and often, with brutality characteristic of religious conflicts. By the end of this period, most religious wars had ended and a new era of national states began. Armies grew at a tremendous rate during the 17th and 18th centuries, leading to new problems of cost, supply, and recruiting. These developments had a profound impact on civilians, both as targets of and contributors to military institutions. Scholars examining this period focus on issues such as the causes and impact of ideologically driven warfare (Duffy 2001, Mortimer 2002, Ó Siochrú 2007), the social conflicts that often underpinned military transformation (Hale 1998, Roberts 1996), and the intractable problems of logistics that eventually led states to bureaucratize their military institutions (Hale 1998, Lynn 2008, Mayer 1996, Wilson 1996).

  • Duffy, Eamon. The Voices of Morebath: Reformation and Rebellion in an English Village. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2001.

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    An extraordinary book, Duffy’s study traces the violent and tumultuous 16th century through the experience of a small village in Devon. A compelling window into the complexities of life in dangerous times.

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  • Hale, J. R. War and Society in Renaissance Europe, 1450–1620. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1998.

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    An overview, but provides very good coverage of the primary issues of war and peace during this period. The last half of the book is dedicated to the problems of recruiting and the impact of military transformation on the population.

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  • Lynn, John. Women, Armies, and Warfare in Early Modern Europe. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

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    This slim, provocative volume examines the relationship between women and military institutions in early modern Europe. In identifying the centrality of women to the functioning of armies, Lynn demonstrates how difficult it is to distinguish noncombatants during this period.

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  • Mayer, Holly A. Belonging to the Army: Camp Followers and Community during the American Revolution. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1996.

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    This study of the variety of noncombatants who traveled with the Continental Army reminds us of how long it took early modern armies to begin the process of bureaucratization that ultimately produced large state armies in the 19th century.

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  • Ó Siochrú, Micháel. “Atrocity, Codes of Conduct and the Irish in the British Civil Wars 1641–1653.” Past & Present 195 (May 2007): 55–86.

    DOI: 10.1093/pastj/gtl029Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Study of the wars in Ireland that places the extreme violence of that conflict into the broader context of the conflict in the British Isles. Discusses the causes for unrestrained warfare in Ireland.

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Early 19th Century, 1790–1860

The books in this section primarily concern the transformation of relations between states and people during the first half of the 19th century. As a result of the revolutionary experience on both sides of the Atlantic, new national states grew in size and importance in daily life. Beginning with the levée en masse in revolutionary France, states began to build mass armies that came to draw on the economic, organizational, and manpower resources of societies. Civilians became an indispensable element of national mobilization. This, in turn, helped to create the conditions for the total wars that followed. The books listed in this section examine the processes of state formation and the impact of that formation on state–society relations (Chickering and Förster 2010; Forrest, et al. 2009; Moran and Waldron 2003), the violence that accompanied revolutionary social change (Dubois 2004, Perdue and Green 2007, Sperber 1991), and the transformation of politics in postrevolutionary society (Godineau 1998, Grab 2003).

  • Chickering, Roger, and Stig Förster, eds. War in an Age of Revolution, 1775–1815. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

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    Collection of essays on various aspects of military affairs during this period of transition, including mobilization, the experience of civilians, and life in wartime.

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  • Dubois, Laurent. A Colony of Citizens: Revolution and Slave Emancipation in the French Caribbean, 1787–1804. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004.

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    An important study of slavery and rebellion on Guadeloupe during the chaotic years of the French Revolution and the uprising on Saint Domingue (Haiti). Points to the importance of race, slavery, and economics in shaping the revolutionary experience and the violence in the Atlantic world during the revolutionary years.

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  • Forrest, Alan, Karen Hagemann, and Jane Rendall, eds. Soldiers, Citizens, and Civilians: Experiences and Perceptions of the French Wars, 1790–1820. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.

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    Excellent and useful collection of essays examining the wars of the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars as “national” conflicts in which the experiences of warfare and national consolidation must be seen in tandem.

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  • Godineau, Dominique. The Women of Paris and Their French Revolution. Translated by Katherine Streip. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.

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    Very important study of the ways in which lower-class women in Paris became involved with politics and helped to shape the activism of the first years of revolutionary France.

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  • Grab, Alexander. Napoleon and the Transformation of Europe. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003.

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    A short overview of the sometimes transformative effect of the wars of the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars on those parts of the European continent that fell under Napoleon’s control. An important reminder of how critical the French Revolution was in changing patterns of everyday life across large swaths of Europe.

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  • Moran, Daniel, and Arthur Waldron, eds. The People in Arms: Military Myth and National Mobilization since the French Revolution. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

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    Collection of essays largely, but not exclusively, focused on the development of national armies in France and Europe during the 19th century. As the title suggests, the authors are interested in the development of new strategies of mobilization that created the mass armies of Europe’s national states.

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  • Sperber, Jonathan. Rhineland Radicals: The Democratic Movement and the Revolution of 1848–1849. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1991.

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    Detailed examination of the uprising in the Prussian Rhineland, focusing on the social basis of popular dissent. An excellent introduction to the complexities of European society under stress in the early stages of industrialization.

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American Civil War

Recent studies of violence and civilians during the American Civil War have followed many of the lines taken in the broader study of the conflict. A new interest in local history as a way of understanding processes at work in the larger conflict has emerged, as well as a focus on using race and gender to better understand the fractures as well as the bonds within societies in the North and the South. Studies of violence against civilians (Grimsley 1995, Mountcastle 2009, Neely 2007) have turned our attention toward the tension between the political objectives of the combatants and the need to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict. Considerable interest has also been shown in community studies that can reveal more-pervasive practices and attitudes (Ash 1995, Ayers and Rubin 2000, Bernstein 2010, Sandow 2011). Finally, scholars have looked carefully at the many important roles played by women on the wartime home front (Giesberg 2009).

  • Ash, Steven V. When the Yankees Came: Conflict and Chaos in the Occupied South, 1861–1865. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995.

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    Fine-grained study of communities in the South facing invasion and occupation by Northern troops. Focuses both on the deep divisions in Southern society and on the social and racial bonds that helped maintain the coherence of these communities through the war and reconstruction.

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  • Ayers, Edward L., and Anna S. Rubin. Valley of the Shadow: Two Communities in the American Civil War. New York: Norton, 2000.

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    A pioneering digital study that allows students to compare two communities—Augusta County, Virginia, and Franklin County, Pennsylvania—throughout the Civil War era. Provides a mass of statistical and primary-source data. This extraordinary resource was first published as a CD and is now available online.

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  • Bernstein, Iver. The New York City Draft Riots: Their Significance for American Society and Politics in the Age of the Civil War. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2010.

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    A new edition of an older work, Bernstein’s book is one of the best studies of the 1863 upheaval in New York City. Important because it situates those events not just in the racial and ethnic politics of the wartime city but also in longer trends in politics and urban development in the 19th century. A useful study for classes in urban and military history.

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  • Giesberg, Judith. Army at Home: Women and the Civil War on the Northern Home Front. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2009.

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    A study of ordinary Northern women and the impact that the war had on their lives. Uses a rich vein of primary sources to explore the ways in which these women asserted their own rights to help manage their work and family duties at a time when men were often absent for long periods. An excellent book for undergraduate courses.

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  • Grimsley, Mark. The Hard Hand of War: Union Military Policy toward Southern Civilians, 1861–1865. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

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    Path-breaking analysis of violence against civilians during the American Civil War. Grimsley’s book contextualizes the attitudes and behavior of Union troops, within the broader history of violence against civilians and within the war effort. An excellent corrective to traditional accounts that emphasize Northern brutality on campaigns in the South.

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  • Mountcastle, Clay. Punitive War: Confederate Guerrillas and Union Reprisals. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2009.

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    A good example of the intersection of operational history and the role of civilians. Mountcastle examines the struggle of Union commanders to overcome guerrilla resistance in the South and the evolution of increasingly counterproductive punitive measures against Southern civilians.

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  • Neely, Mark E., Jr. The Civil War and the Limits of Destruction. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007.

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    Neely’s book is a polemical and controversial effort to demonstrate the boundaries that, he argues, limited violence against civilians during the war. He pays particular attention to efforts by Union commanders to check the growth of reprisals and suggests that the American Civil War saw relatively little of this sort of violence compared to other conflicts of the period.

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  • Sandow, Robert M. Deserter Country: Civil War Opposition in the Pennsylvania Appalachians. New York: Fordham University Press, 2011.

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    Useful and interesting local study of antiwar sentiment in rural Pennsylvania that examines both the roots of and the reaction to wartime opposition in the North.

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Late 19th Century

A critical transitional period on the path toward total war (Boemeke, et al. 1999), the late 19th century saw the expansion of national state armies (Schaffer 2004), the creation of vast systems of conscription in Europe (Frevert 2004), and a dramatic increase in the lethality of weapons. Europeans and North Americans practiced a considerable degree of violence, largely in the colonial sphere or along the frontiers of settled regions (Dedering 1999, Jacoby 2008). Colonial conflict fell disproportionately on noncombatants, whose lives were also affected by the new legal and military regimes that came with colonial power (Samson 1999). Particularly in Europe, the militarization of society and the colonial conflicts on the periphery interacted to brutalize the practices of war (Hull 2006). At the same time, European statesmen began to take tentative steps toward offering specific protections to civilians, though these measures tended to conflict with the sovereignty of emerging national states (Fink 2006).

  • Boemeke, Manfred, Roger Chickering, and Stig Förster, eds. Anticipating Total War: The German and American Experiences, 1871–1914. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

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    Part of a series of volumes on the experience of “total war,” this excellent volume includes extended discussions of race relations, militarization, and colonial warfare both in German and American contexts.

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  • Dedering, Tilman. “‘A Certain Rigorous Treatment of All Parts of the Nation’: The Annihilation of the Herero in German South West Africa, 1904.” In The Massacre in History. Edited by Mark Levene and Penny Roberts, 205–223. New York: Berghahn, 1999.

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    Brief study of the Herero campaign that presents an evenhanded critique of efforts to show continuities between German military behavior in the imperial period and later large-scale brutality in the European wars of the 20th century.

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  • Fink, Carole. Defending the Rights of Others: The Great Powers, the Jews, and International Minority Protection, 1878–1938. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

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    This wide-ranging diplomatic history explores the origins of the modern discourse on human rights and the duty to provide legal protection for civilians in areas of conflict. Very useful in graduate courses.

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  • Frevert, Ute. A Nation in Barracks: Modern Germany, Military Conscription and Civil Society. Translated by Andrew Boreham. Oxford: Berg, 2004.

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    An excellent study of conscription, a phenomenon that helped to create the national-state army and contributed to the nationalization of societies during the late 19th century.

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  • Hull, Isabel V. Absolute Destruction: Military Culture and the Practices of War in Imperial Germany. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2006.

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    This study, which is excellent for graduate courses, attempts to understand why the army of the German Empire was so predisposed to brutality. Hull locates this tendency in the political dysfunction of the empire, and she includes a vivid and instructive discussion of military action in Germany’s colonial possessions.

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  • Jacoby, Karl. Shadows at Dawn: An Apache Massacre and the Violence of History. New York: Penguin, 2008.

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    Nuanced and evocative study of a single incident—the killing of 150 Apaches in Arizona in 1871—that highlights the complexities of identity and the threat of violence on the American frontier in the latter half of the 19th century.

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  • Samson, Jane. “Too Zealous Guardians? The Royal Navy and the South Pacific Labour Trade.” In Guardians of Empire: The Armed Forces of the Colonial Powers, c. 1700–1964. Edited by David Killingray and David Omissi, 70–90. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 1999.

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    Fascinating study of efforts by the British Royal Navy to regulate the flow of labor across the islands of the South Pacific. An excellent microlevel study of the interaction between colonial civilians and the military in peacetime.

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  • Schaffer, Donald R. After the Glory: The Struggles of Black Civil War Veterans. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2004.

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    Rigorous study of the postwar experiences of African American veterans who returned to being civilians in the wake of the war. Shaffer’s book makes excellent use of sources such as pension records to reconstruct the lives both of former soldiers and their families and the biases that they faced decades after abolition.

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World War I

The past twenty years have seen a renaissance in scholarship on World War I. While many impressive studies have been undertaken of the operational and military components of the conflict, historians have been drawn to cultural and social history as a way of understanding the transformative effects of the war during the 20th century. In particular, scholars have been asking questions about how ordinary people in wartime societies understood and found meaning in the war (Audoin-Rouzeau and Becker 2002, Horne 1997), the politicization of everyday life on the home front (Healy 2004, Davis 2000), and the sites of interaction between citizens and the increasingly intrusive state (Chickering 2007, de Schaepdrijver 2004, Winter and Robert 1997). Finally, interest has grown in the study of wartime violence as a precursor to the much-deadlier experience of civilians during World War II (Proctor 2010, Audoin-Rouzeau and Becker 2002).

  • Audoin-Rouzeau, Stéphane, and Annette Becker. 14–18: Understanding the Great War. New York: Hill and Wang, 2002.

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    This wide-ranging and important set of essays helped to shape current research on the history of the war. The authors dedicate considerable space to understanding the role of life under occupation, forced labor, and mourning in shaping civilian life, particularly in France.

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  • Chickering, Roger. The Great War and Urban Life in Germany: Freiburg, 1914–1918. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

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    This massive and exceptionally detailed study of an urban community at war provides a test of the author’s proposition that “total war requires total history.” While the size is daunting, this work is probably the most comprehensive examination of a single location at war available in English.

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  • Davis, Belinda. Home Fires Burning: Food, Politics, and Everyday Life in World War I Berlin. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2000.

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    Davis examines the growing power of civilians, particularly “women of little means,” as consumers confronting wartime economic deprivation in Berlin. An engaging read and an important contribution to understanding the role of women during mass industrial war.

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  • de Schaepdrijver, Sophie. La Belgique et la Première Guerre mondiale. Brussels: Peter Lang, 2004.

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    Originally published in Dutch in 1997 (as De Groote Oorlog), this important book details the experience of Belgium and Belgian civilians under German occupation during the war. The author emphasizes, most especially, the growing intrusiveness of the occupation authority into everyday life.

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  • Healy, Maureen. Vienna and the Fall of the Habsburg Empire: Total War and Everyday Life in World War I. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

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    This very engaging study of a city at war examines the experience of ordinary residents as they confronted wartime scarcity and regulation. Critically, Healy argues that the inability of the Habsburg state to deal with problems on the home front helped lead to its collapse.

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  • Proctor, Tammy M. Civilians in a World at War, 1914–1918. New York: New York University Press, 2010.

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    A broad study that attempts to discern a common civilian experience in a conflict in which the line between combatants and noncombatants became very indistinct. Probably too wide ranging for specialists, this is a useful volume for undergraduates.

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World War II (Europe)

World War II is certainly the most studied and written about of the periods under discussion. European civilians during the war often endured multiple occupations by regimes willing to use extreme violence against subject populations (Snyder 2010). In Nazi-occupied Europe, civilian populations faced varying degrees of expropriation, exploitation, and murder (Berkhoff 2004, Gildea 2004). The Germans also found local populations willing to support them, particularly against “outsiders” such as Jews (Gross 2002). The most famous aspect of population policy during the war was the systematic murder of European Jews (Friedländer 2007), but it was far from the only one. Millions of Soviet civilians perished during the war (Kirschenbaum 2006), and the “liberation” of Europe by the Allies proved enormously destructive as communities found themselves caught up in the fighting (Fritz 2004, Hitchcock 2008).

  • Berkhoff, Karel. Harvest of Despair: Life and Death in Ukraine under Nazi Rule. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004.

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    Brilliant and compelling study of the experience of Ukraine under Nazi occupation. This area, the focus of Nazi racial fantasies during the war, was deeply riven by internal conflict and brutalized by its German conquerors.

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  • Fritz, Stephen. Endkampf: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Death of the Third Reich. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2004.

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    Study of the end of the war in northern Bavaria. Fritz shows, in compelling detail, the violence inflicted on German civilians by the German military during the spring of 1945.

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  • Gildea, Robert. Marianne in Chains: Daily Life in the Heart of France during the German Occupation. New York: Picador, 2004.

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    Excellent study of the experience of residents of the Loire Valley under German rule. Gildea finds a panoply of civilian responses, ranging from collaboration to resistance, and tells the story of how the popular memory of occupation changed dramatically in the postwar years.

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  • Gross, Jan. Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland. New York: Penguin, 2002.

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    This brief iconic study focuses on events during a brief period after the German invasion of eastern Poland in 1941. An outstanding book for undergraduates, Gross’s research amply demonstrates the brutalization of wartime society and the internal dynamics of Polish society during the war.

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  • Snyder, Timothy. Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin. New York: Basic Books, 2010.

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    A new and controversial study of the areas in eastern Europe occupied both by Germany and the Soviet Union before, during, and after the war. Snyder argues that the interaction between these occupations produced the mass murder of civilians in these areas, at the hands of the two regimes.

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World War II (The Pacific)

The war in Asia was marked by extraordinary violence on all sides, fueled in no small part by racial attitudes held by the Japanese and their European and American enemies (Dower 1986). Japanese racial imperialism emerged in the 1930s during the war in China (McDonald 1999). As the war widened, Asians living under Japanese rule and Europeans who became prisoners of the Japanese faced horrific conditions (Tanaka 2002, Twomey 2007). In the United States, Japanese Americans were interned and American Pacific possessions were militarized (Bailey and Faber 1993, Hayashi 2004). The conflict in the Pacific was fought across vast spaces, including on islands with small and isolated populations (Fujitani, et al. 2001; Petty 2002).

  • Bailey, Beth, and David Faber, “The ‘Double-V’ Campaign in World War II Hawaii: African Americans, Racial Ideology, and Federal Power.” Journal of Social History 26.4 (Summer 1993): 817–843.

    DOI: 10.1353/jsh/26.4.817Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Very good study of racial politics, relations between civilians and the military, and the expansion of federal power during World War II.

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  • Dower, John. War without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War. New York: Pantheon, 1986.

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    This book is a classic—and deservedly so. Dower examines the roots of the brutal struggle in the Pacific, locating them in American racial attitudes and Japanese ideas of racial purity. One of the indispensable books on the war in the Pacific.

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  • Fujitani, T., Geoffrey M. White, and Lisa Yoneyama, eds. Perilous Memory: The Asia-Pacific War(s). Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2001.

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    Edited collection covering many aspects of the war, including the civilian experience and debates over the memory of the conflict across the Pacific.

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  • Hayashi, Brian Masaru. Democratizing the Enemy: The Japanese American Internment. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004.

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    Excellent and comprehensive study of a well-covered topic. Hayashi places the Japanese American experience in a wider context and moves the focus from the West Coast to a broader understanding of the experience of internment.

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  • McDonald, Callum. “‘Kill All, Burn All, Loot All’: The Nanking Massacre of December 1937 and Japanese Policy in China.” In The Massacre in History. Edited by Mark Levene and Penny Roberts, 223–245. New York: Berghahn, 1999.

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    Brief and very clear analysis of the notorious massacre in the context of Japanese policymaking and military culture.

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  • Petty, Bruce M. Saipan: Oral Histories of the Pacific War. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2002.

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    This remarkable collection is divided into islander and American memories of the battles for a number of islands in the Pacific. The civilian accounts detail the horror and devastation of the island campaigns in a way that few scholarly accounts can match.

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  • Tanaka, Yuki. Japan’s Comfort Women: Sexual Slavery and Prostitution during World War II and the U.S. Occupation. New York: Routledge, 2002.

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    Brief but comprehensive study of the role of sexual violence in the war in the Pacific. Tanaka’s discussion includes not just the systematic use of rape and forced prostitution by the Japanese army but also incidents involving Allied troops and the lack of postwar justice for affected women.

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  • Twomey, Christina. Australia’s Forgotten Prisoners: Civilians Interned by the Japanese in World War Two. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

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    Discussion of Australian civilians who became Japanese prisoners. Focuses not just on their wartime treatment but also on their absence from public memory in that country.

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Post-1945 Conflicts

This diverse and wide-ranging set of conflicts encompasses the long postwar, Cold War, and post–Cold War conflicts. Broadly, the international effort to protect civilians at war was hindered by the Cold War but bolstered by the creation of organizations such as the United Nations, which attempted to regulate conflict. The early Cold War saw not only the demilitarization and democratization of some of the principal protagonists of World War II (Dower 2000, Kossert 2008) but also the militarization of anticolonial and anti-Communist struggles in Africa and Asia (Elkins 2005, Millett 2002, Race 2010). The retreat from empire, peaceful in most places, turned violent in others, creating conditions for violence against civilians and the birth of serious refugee problems in conflict zones (Morris 2004). The two decades since the end of the Cold War have witnessed not only the return of violent ethnic nationalism and a persistent conflict in the Middle East (Drakulić 2004, Fassihi 2008), but also the continuing demilitarization of parts of Europe.

  • Dower, John. Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II. New York: Norton, 2000.

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    Pulitzer Prize–winning study of the reconstruction of Japan in the wake of the war. Dower uses Japanese and American sources to highlight the clash of ideals and pragmatism that helped to produce a peaceful and eventually prosperous postwar society.

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  • Drakulić, Slavenka. They Would Never Hurt a Fly: War Criminals on Trial in The Hague. New York: Penguin, 2004.

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    Impressive and lucid study of the unraveling of Yugoslavia. Drakulić focuses on crimes committed against, and often by, civilians. This short volume is excellent for classroom use.

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  • Elkins, Caroline. Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain’s Gulag in Kenya. New York: Owl, 2005.

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    Controversial and well-crafted study of British civilian internment policy in Kenya during the 1950s. Elkins does an effective job of demonstrating the radicalizing impact of colonial policymaking and local resistance.

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  • Fassihi, Farnaz. Waiting for an Ordinary Day: The Unraveling of Life in Iraq. New York: PublicAffairs, 2008.

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    One of many books written about the experience of life on the ground during the conflict in Iraq. This volume, written by a journalist working for the Wall Street Journal, is one of the most effective and thoughtful.

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  • Kossert, Andreas. Kalte Heimat: Die Geschichte der deutschen Vertriebenen nach 1945. Munich: Siedler, 2008.

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    Excellent study of the problem of refugees and integration in postwar Germany. Kossert persuasively argues that the myth of “speedy integration” for millions of refugees, particularly in West Germany, had little basis in fact.

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  • Millett, Allan. Their War for Korea: American, Asian, and European Combatants and Civilians, 1945–1953. Dulles, VA: Potomac Books, 2002.

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    Written by one of the best historians of the Korean War, Millett’s book brings together a range of voices that tell the story of that conflict from its beginnings as a civil war on the Korean Peninsula through the internationalization of one of the century’s most intractable conflicts.

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  • Morris, Benny. The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited. 2d ed. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

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    A revised edition of Morris’s very controversial study of the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians during and after the creation of the state of Israel. The subject arouses strong passions, and the book is probably too long for an undergraduate class, but it remains one of the most comprehensive examinations of a refugee crisis in the modern world.

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  • Race, Jeffrey. War Comes to Long An: Revolutionary Conflict in a Vietnamese Province. 2d ed. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010.

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    This is an updated version of Race’s classic 1972 study of revolution and ideology in a rural South Vietnamese province. Notable for its use of oral history and its strong critique of the assumptions under which the United States carried out its policies in Southeast Asia.

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Genocide

The crime of genocide did not exist until after World War II, when the term became part of international law. Genocide refers to acts “committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such.” This definition of genocide, taken from a 1948 convention, has been problematic because of its focus on intent and the limits placed on victim groups. The sources listed here include several attempts to understand genocide globally and across time (Gellately and Kiernan 2003, Kiernan 2007, Melson 1992, Weitz 2003), studies of the victims and perpetrators of genocide (Akçam 2007, Browning 1992, Gourevitch 1999), and the challenge of responding to genocide (Power 2002).

  • Akçam, Taner. A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility. New York: Picador, 2007.

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    A major study of the deportation and mass killing of Armenians during World War I. Turkish nationalists continue to insist that the killings were not the result of state policy and therefore do not constitute genocide. Akçam’s work seriously undermines this claim.

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  • Browning, Christopher. Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland. New York: HarperCollins, 1992.

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    A classic study of the perpetrators of genocide, in this case, the members of an overaged reserve unit. Browning argues that social psychology offers useful insights into the behavior of perpetrators and helps to explain how “ordinary” people can become killers.

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  • Gellately, Robert, and Ben Kiernan, eds. The Specter of Genocide: Mass Murder in Historical Perspective. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

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    An excellent collection of writings by scholars with a wide range of interests. These essays include studies of genocides around the world, as well as reflections on the difficult debates over memorialization, legal responsibility, and human rights.

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  • Kiernan, Ben. Blood and Soil: A World History of Genocide and Extermination from Sparta to Darfur. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2007.

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    An effort to write a global history of genocide that draws clear connections between modern and premodern incidents of mass killing. Kiernan, a specialist on Cambodia, attempts to find common aspects of genocidal violence across time and cultures.

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  • Melson, Robert. Revolution and Genocide: On the Origins of the Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992.

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    Theoretically informed study that explores the root causes for, and the conditions under which, genocide takes place. Melson argues that genocide develops from revolutionary conditions in which radical ideologies emerge and that it tends to take place during the instability caused by war.

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  • Power, Samantha. A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide. New York: Basic Books, 2002.

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    Gripping and passionately argued account of American reaction and inaction in the face of genocide. Power makes the case that successive US administrations have failed to take action to stop genocides because there has been little domestic pressure to do so and because these killings have not directly threatened US interests. An excellent book for undergraduate teaching.

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  • Weitz, Eric. A Century of Genocide: Utopias of Race and Nation. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003.

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    Traces a disheartening path through the genocides of the 20th century. This well-structured and useful book places genocide at the extreme end of the spectrum of utopian thought, rooted in the Enlightenment, which seeks homogeneous national states as a way to resolve the challenges of modern society.

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Strategic Bombing

Few subjects in the modern history of war have elicited as much controversy as the bombing of cities. The texts in this section grapple with the moral, practical, and human dimensions of this practice as it has evolved since the early 20th century. Several of these works (Biddle 2002, Clodfelter 1989, Pape 1996) examine the history of strategic bombing doctrine. These studies attempt to understand how planners believed strategic bombing could be used to shorten military conflict. Others (Friedrich 2006, Grayling 2007, Klee 1999, Tanaka and Young 2009) debate the moral implications of targeting civilians and even call into question the kind of language that we can use to discuss state-directed violence against civilians. The literature on the American decision to drop atomic bombs on Japan in 1945 is vast. Alperovitz 1995 reveals the powerful revisionist trend in that discussion that emerged in the 1980s and 1990s.

  • Alperovitz, Gar. The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb and the Architecture of an American Myth. New York: Knopf, 1995.

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    Highly polemical revisionist account of the use of the atomic bomb in 1945. Argues that the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were militarily and diplomatically needless and motivated in large part by growing tensions with the Soviet Union.

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  • Biddle, Tami Davis. Rhetoric and Reality in Air Warfare: The Evolution of British and American Ideas about Strategic Bombing, 1914–1945. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2002.

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    Compelling study of the intense debates over the efficacy of strategic bombing and the possibility that bombing could bring about decisive victory. Biddle examines the assumptions that underpinned the advocacy of strategic bombing and explores why these ideas proved so resistant to change.

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  • Clodfelter, Mark. The Limits of Air Power: The American Bombing of North Vietnam. New York: Macmillan, 1989.

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    Study of American bombing doctrine during the Vietnam conflict. Clodfelter argues that planners derived lessons from the experiences of World War II and Korea, which proved largely useless in Vietnam.

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  • Friedrich, Jörg. The Fire: The Bombing of Germany, 1940–1945. Translated by Allison Brown. New York: Columbia University Press, 2006.

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    A highly controversial book when it first appeared in German in 2002. Friedrich describes in sometimes agonizing detail the experience of life in German cities during the bombing campaign. He has been strongly criticized for language that seems to equate strategic bombing with Nazi crimes, but the book remains evocative and worth considering.

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  • Grayling, A. C. Among the Dead Cities: The History and Moral Legacy of the WWII Bombing of Civilians in Germany and Japan. New York: Walker, 2007.

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    Philosophical study of the problems of strategic bombing, in which Grayling wrestles with the complex questions of victimhood, guilt, and restraint in war that many of the other authors cited here confront. A solid introduction to the subject, which is likely to generate conversation in undergraduate classrooms.

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  • Klee, Katje. Im “Luftschutzkeller des Reiches” Evakuierte in Bayern, 1939–1953: Politik, Soziale Lage, Erfahrungen. Munich: Oldenbourg, 1999.

    DOI: 10.1524/9783486702989Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An important study of the experience of German civilians driven from their homes, primarily by bombing, during World War II. Points to the long-term problem of resettling and compensating bombing victims in postwar West Germany.

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  • Pape, Robert A. Bombing to Win: Air Power and Coercion in War. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1996.

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    Pape examines a range of examples to assess factors that make military coercion possible. In contrast to many others, he argues that strategic bombing is most effective when it targets the enemy’s military strategy, as opposed to civilians.

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  • Tanaka, Yuki, and Marilyn B. Young, eds. Bombing Civilians: A Twentieth Century History. New York: New Press, 2009.

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    A collection of essays examining the theory, practice, and memory of strategic bombing. The editors argue that strategic bombing is “an act of terrorism,” and many of the authors suggest that the assumptions underlying the practice are based on flawed readings of history.

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International Humanitarian Law

This section lists books and Internet resources concerning international humanitarian law, which, in the recent past, has been called the “laws of war.” Since the second half of the 19th century, the international community has struggled to create and enforce laws governing the behavior of militaries in wartime and the treatment of civilians. The end of World War II and the subsequent trials of war criminals led to a renewed interest in create enforcement mechanisms (International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia). International humanitarian law has changed a great deal and continues to do so, requiring updated synthetic studies (Bouvier and Sassòli 1999; Dinstein 2010; Kalshoven and Zegveld 2001; Roberts and Guelff 2000; Solis 2010). The regime of international humanitarian law is not without its critics (Kennedy 2006), but it is passionately defended by international organizations, agencies, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) charged with protecting civilians in harm’s way (War and International Humanitarian Law).

  • Bouvier, Antoine, and Marco Sassòli. How Does Law Protect in War? Cases, Documents and Teaching Materials on Contemporary Practice in International Humanitarian Law. Geneva, Switzerland: International Committee of the Red Cross, 1999.

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    Intended to be an aid to classroom teaching, this large volume is potentially useful in the undergraduate or graduate classroom. Case studies are neatly divided and presented in a way that makes this collection easy to use.

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  • Kalshoven, Frits, and Liesbeth Zegveld. Constraints on the Waging of War: An Introduction to International Humanitarian Law. 3d ed. Geneva, Switzerland: International Committee of the Red Cross, 2001.

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    Widely used introductory text that explores the changing international legal regime designed to enforce the laws of war and to promote the application of humanitarian law in conflict situations.

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LAST MODIFIED: 02/06/2012

DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780199791279-0033

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