HIST 390
World Military History

Professor Charles M. Dobbs

Spring 2003 


This is an upper division course in world military history. We will move serially through major conflicts since the 1790s, including wars of the Napoleonic era, wars of mid- and late-19th century, the First World War, the Second World War, and so-called limited wars and wars of national liberation since 1945. We will seek to evaluate the performance of military commanders based on their understanding and use of strategy, tactics, manpower, technology, logistics, etc.

Hopefully, it will be educational, interesting, and will change perceptions of some leaders and their popular reputations. That is, what made Napoleon successful early in his career as a commander? What lessons did major European military leaders draw from the American Civil War and other wars of that era? What were the strengths and weaknesses of blitzkrieg in WWII? What can one learn from limited wars?

In lecture, we will move through the wars, the strategies, each side's relative strengths and weaknesses, and then gauge the performance of military leaders. In discussion, you will concentrate on a theme or a point for the particular conflict we are discussing and pursue it in greater detail.

Assigned Readings

Larry H. Addington. The Patterns of War Since the Eighteenth Century, 2nd Edition, 1994.

Robert Doughty, et. al. World War II: Total Warfare Around the Globe, 1996.

Gunther E. Rothenberg. Art of Warfare in the Age of Napoleon, 1981.

James L. Stokesbury. Short History of World War I, 1981.

Course Packet, HIS 390, World Military History [Optional].

Schedule of Readings


Due Date


February 19, 2003

Addington, up to the First World War
Rothenberg, all.

March 26, 2003

Addington, up to 1942
Stokesbury, all.
Doughty, pp 1-104

by Final Exam

Addington, all.
Doughty, all.

Grading Procedure:

1st Examination Due

February 19, 2003


2nd Examination Due

March 26, 2003


Final Examination Due

Per Posted Schedule


Attendance/participation in Recitation Section



There will be three examinations; the first two will each cover material for about the five weeks preceding the examination; they are fundamentally essay examinations. The final examination will cover both the preceding five weeks and will have a cumulative section. We will discuss exam format, possible questions, etc. prior to each exam. But there are no study sessions prior to exams. These are take-home examinations designed to achieve several goals. They seek to measure performance; they also seek to serve as a statement of what is a reasonable amount of material to master within each time frame; and, finally, I hope that they limit the stress that some students have with in-class testing procedures.


Students need to attend lecture and discussion. Class really only works well when most people attend regularly. Excessive absences can be penalized by loss of up to and exceeding one grade on the final course grade. Class very much begins on time!

Course Grading

This course will use the +/- grading system.

Late Work

Late examinations without prior exception or acceptable excuse can be penalized by loss of one half-letter grade [5%] for each day late in submitting required work.

Office Hours, Etc

The Department of History is located in 603 Ross Hall; the telephone number is 294-7266. My office is located in 1750 Beardshear Hall; my telephone number is 294-2042. My e-mail address is cdobbs@iastate.edu - I read e-mail several times daily. I will have office hours Monday-Wednesday-Friday from 1:00-2:00 pm, Tuesday-Thursday from 7:30-8:00 am and by appointment.

Please visit, call, or e-mail about anything that interests or concerns you.