The Defence Economics of Total War 1870-1918: A Literature Review Article


In the history of warfare, the period from 1860-1945, is regarded as the period of total war. The concept of “total war” is debatable among historians, political scientists and economists, however the American Civil War (1861-1865) and the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871) are the first two conflicts which are regarded as total wars by social scientists or at least as the prelude to this type of warfare. It is surprising, that other conflicts, such as, the Russian-Ottoman War (1877), the Russian-Japanese War (1904) the Balkan Wars (1912-1913), the Greek-Turkish War (1919-1922), are not regarded as total wars, or they have not attracted the attention of various scholars. However, there is general agreement that the First World War (1914-1918), as well as the Second (1939-1945), are the epitomy of total warfare. In this article we focus our attention to the 1870-1918 period. This intellectual dichotomy is necessary since there is an immense amount of work on the two world wars. A second article will focus in the 1919-1945 period.

The structure of this article is as follows: In the first introductory section we will simply refer to the various current intellectual aspects of defence economics. In the second section we will present the various kinds of the literature of total war for the 1870-1918 period. In this section we present the main work which is published (mainly) in English, as well as other languages. This is taking place due to the huge amount of available literature on the issue, and to the limitations of space in a journal article. A third and final section will tight the literature of total war with the current intellectual aspects of defence

economics, refer to the limitations of the current research, and identify some gaps which exist in the current literature about the early period of warfare. Recommendations for further research will also be presented


Keywords: Economic History, Total War

Unique Article ID: GJAHSS-179
Article Review Status: Published

Pages: 23-45 (Download PDF)

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