Library special World War I

World War I, or the Great War, was a global war, centred in Europe, that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918. It involved all of the world’s great powers, which were assembled in two opposing alliances, the Allies (Great Britain, France and Russia) and the Central Powers (Germany and Austria-Hungary). These alliances were both reorganised and expanded as more nations entered the war: Italy, Japan and the United States joined the Allies, and the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria the Central Powers. Ultimately, more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, were mobilised in one of the largest wars in history. More than 9 million combatants were killed, largely because of technological advancements that led to enormous increases in the lethality of weapons without corresponding improvements in protection or mobility, causing both sides to resort to trench warfare with large-scale human wave attacks, which proved extremely costly in terms of casualties. The outcome of the war subsequently paved the way for various political changes, such as revolutions in many of the nations involved. The Peace Palace Library’s collection on World War I is focused on aspects of international law: the laws of war, the Paris Peace Conference, the peace treaties of 1919-1920, the war reparations, military justice and the politics of its memory.

This Library special is intended as a starting point for research on World War I. It provides the basic materials available in the Peace Palace Library, both in print and electronic format. Handbooks, leading articles, bibliographies, periodicals, serial publications and documents of interest are presented in the Selective Bibliography section. Links to the PPL Catalogue are inserted. The Library’s systematic classification → History: World War I and subject heading (keyword) World War I are instrumental for searching through the Catalogue. Special attention is given to our subscriptions on databases, e-journals, e-books and other electronic resources. Finally, this Library special features links to relevant websites and other online resources of particular interest.


Latest acquisitions

Lemaire, E. (dir.), La Grande Guerre et le droit public, Bayonne, Institut Universitaire Varenne, 2017.

La Grande Guerre fut-elle un moment charnière dans l'histoire du droit public? À l'occasion des commémorations du centenaire de la Première Guerre mondiale, l'objectif du colloque « La Grande Guerre et le droit public » organisé à l'Université de Bourgogne en novembre 2015, fut de tenter de répondre à cette question en mesurant l'influence de la Grande Guerre sur les trois grandes branches du droit public : le droit international d'abord, le droit constitutionnel ensuite, le droit administratif enfin. La Première Guerre mondiale fut avant tout un problème de relations entre États. Le droit international, qui joua un rôle majeur dans la survenance, le déroulement et le dénouement de la guerre, fut aussi profondément et durablement affecté par ce conflit sans précédent. La Grande Guerre mit également (et inévitablement) à l'épreuve le fonctionnement des institutions politiques de tous les États engagés dans le conflit armé. En France, les institutions de la Troisième République n'avaient pas été préparées à l'hypothèse d'un conflit d'une telle ampleur. La question des rapports entre les différents organes constitués, ou encore celle des relations entre le pouvoir civil et le pouvoir militaire furent très concrètement agitées et alimentèrent durablement la réflexion de la doctrine publiciste sur l'évolution du fonctionnement des institutions. Quant au droit administratif, il dut s'adapter aux circonstances nouvelles pour permettre à l'administration de faire face aux contraintes résultant de la guerre, la victoire dépendant aussi, très largement, de l'efficacité de l'action administrative pendant la durée du conflit armé. Un siècle plus tard, certaines des règles juridiques alors élaborées, notamment en droit des contrats administratifs, sont encore appliquées.

Cox, A., Wilsonian Approaches to American Conflicts: From the War of 1812 to the First Gulf War, London; New York: Routledge, 2017.

This book explores US foreign policy, specifically the history of America’s entry into the War of 1812, the First World War, the Korean War and the First Gulf War. Using a historical case study approach, it demonstrates how the Wilsonian Framework can give us a unique understanding of why the United States chose to go to war in those four conflicts. Cox argues that the Wilsonian Framework is an important concern for decision makers in the US and that democracy promotion and the concept of international law are driving factors in each of these decisions to go to war. The realist and economic explanations of these conflicts are not sufficient and we must draw on Wilsonianism to gain a clear understanding of these conflicts. Drawing on the history of American liberalism and the work of Walter Russel Mead and Tony Smith, the book presents a definition of Wilsonianism that represents a broad span of the history of The Republic, in order to show consistency across time. It also establishes why the realist and economic explanations fail to provide sufficient explanatory power and how the Wilsonian Framework can give important insights into these conflicts. This book will be of interest to international historians and international relations scholars at both postgraduate and scholar level. It will also be of use to those wishing to conduct future research into the motivations that drive the foreign and security policies of the United States.


Systematic classification → History: World War I

120.09 History: World War I

Librarian's choices

  • 479 H 12

  • 484 C 7

  • 472 A 21

  • 481 E 26

  • 537 E 44

  • 489 C 12