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War is Hell: How to Write a War Thesis

21 Feb 2017Writing Tips

Let’s say you have this assignment to write a thesis about a war. You know something about thesis writing, so you pull out your textbook and some coffee and sit down to work. It is only after you’ve formatted your title page that you realize— you know nothing about writing a war thesis.

(If you don’t know anything about thesis writing, try our thesis writing guide.)

How do you approach something like that in a two page paper? A ten page paper? A nine-hundred page paper?

Very carefully.

First, here are some basic tips on writing a war thesis:

  • Approach the subject compassionately. When dealing with wars, remember that people actually died in these conflicts. Take into account not only the people who were fighting, but also non-combatants, and use figures, language, and argument that reflect this acknowledgment. War is an atrocity, whether you believe it is justified or not.

  • Organize your arguments chronologically. This makes cause and effect within the conflict easy to follow. You can make arguments about these causes and effects fairly easily.

  • Explain. Explain the significance of battles you mention.  Even if the person reading your war thesis already knows a lot about the war that you are writing about, your analysis is really the most important aspect of any thesis.

  • Talk about the interesting stuff. If there’s an event in the war that you think is particularly interesting, mention it. Wars are, in addition to being very bad for economies and civilians, inherently exciting.

Those are the most basic tips for writing a paper on any war.

Depending on the purpose of your paper, you should address war in different ways, largely in accordance to the guidelines presented above.

Arguing Against a War

If your war thesis focuses on attacking a country’s decision to declare war on another country, you have taken on a lot of political research. Make sure you have the research to back up your claims, and that you’re prepared to follow through with a good analysis of the country’s political relations.

Here are some questions you should answer when writing an argumentative war thesis.

  • What was the political state before the war?

  • What was the political state during the war?

  • What were the effects of the war on the social, economic, and cultural climate of the countries involved?

  • Why are these effects so detrimental?

Arguing in Favor of a War

Arguing in favor of a war is more difficult than it at first appears. There is just as much research involved as arguing against one, but when arguing for a war, the burden of proof falls largely on you.

The crux of your war thesis will have to be cost-benefit analysis: why the socio-political-economical ramifications of the conflict are less important than the gains of gong to war.

Presenting a Timeline

The most straight-forward war thesis. Start at the beginning. Work your way through the major conflicts.

When choosing what to include as turning points, look for events that mark a distinct change in style, strategy, or troop strength.

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