The Second World War


This course provides a survey of the greatest, most destructive war in human history: The Second World War. Perhaps 50 million people were killed in the conflict, and it reached every corner of the globe. Its political, social, and human consequences were vast and shape the world we live in today. Understanding the war – its origins, its course, and its impact – remains one of the great challenges for historians. This class will provide students with a narrative of the war, both in the European and Pacific theaters. It will also ask students to think about a number of broad interpretive questions: why did the war begin? Why was it waged with such ferocity on all sides? What ideas sustained the combatants through so many years of sacrifice? How did the “United Nations” win? Did the victors tarnish their triumph by using certain weapons that killed many innocent people? How have various societies come to remember, and commemorate, the war? Students will read about six books, take two exams and write a 12 page research essay.

Corcoran Department of History
University of Virginia
Nau Hall - South Lawn
Charlottesville, VA 22904


(434) 924-7147
(434) 924-7891
M-F 8am to 4:30pm
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