Twentieth Century Benchmark Dates in International Relations: The Three World Wars in Historical Perspective

Barry Buzan, George Lawson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    This paper builds on the author’s earlier work on benchmark dates in International Relations. The Introduction summarises this work and explains how this paper extends the analysis from suggestions made, but not developed, in earlier publications. The second section looks in detail at 20th century benchmark dates centred on the three world wars (First, Second and Cold). It argues that the changes clustered around the Second World War are both deeper and more extensive than those clustered around either the First World War or the Cold War. The third section uses these insights to open-up a macro-historical perspective on the 20th century, demonstrating the ways in which choices in relation to both time and scale affect the construction of macro-historical perspectives. The fourth section demonstrates the advantages of a two-century perspective on the 20th century. Here, and in the conclusion, we argue that the key issues that underpinned world politics in the 20th century are best seen as the downstream consequences of the dynamics and challenges ushered in by the 19th century “global transformation.”
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)39-58
    JournalJournal of International Security Studies
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2015

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