War Essay

War essays examine the many aspects of armed conflict throughout history. They can be difficult to conceptualize because the topic can be analyzed from so many different angles.

Some approaches can be controversial, such as the political and social issues outlined below, while other topics are great for examining cause-and-effect, comparing and contrasting events or points of view, or looking at personal narratives.

Once you narrow down the possibilities, there are sure to be a few that meet the needs of your assignment.

War: Social Issues

War affects people and issues unrelated to the fighting. Entire battles may be fought by government officials who never raise a weapon, and the results can be far-reaching. Topics such as these are often the subject of debate and persuasive writing.

  • War and the Economy: funding weapons, military salaries and pensions, and the maintenance of foreign installations all take a toll on the economy at home and abroad.
  • War and the Environment: one can focus on the immediate environment affected by the fighting, the preservation or destruction of cultural monuments, or debate the pros and cons of using destructive weapons.
  • War Crimes: civilian casualties, interrogation practices, and the behavior of occupying forces are extremely relevant topics when discussing modern warfare. This may also be a great topic for a historical paper (e.g. if you wish to write about the Nuremberg Trials).

War in History

War is an important aspect of history, and historical conflicts are a great way to explore a culture and its values. Modern warfare can also be contrasted with historical conflicts to produce greater insight into current events.

  • Modern Warfare: write an essay on World War I or II, The Gulf War, and how politics and cultural evolution might have brought these conflicts about, or how the advent of modern technology such as flight or biochemical weaponry has changed the way war is waged in the modern world (e.g. the danger of nuclear weapons).
  • Historic Conflicts: choose a famous conflict such as The Hundred Years War or the Napoleonic Wars, and analyze their influence on a culture. You may also compare and contrast the context of these wars with modern conflicts.
  • War Machinery: from Greek Fire, Leonardo da Vinci’s weapons plans, and the advent of gunpowder and firearms, weapons have changed quite a bit over history. How has this changed warfare?

War in Literature

Analyzing fiction and other media is another good way to examine the culture or history of war. Literature provides a variety of points of view that can provide deep insight into the context of a conflict.

  • Literature: how war appears in or affects literature. Examples include Stephen Crane’s poem “War is Kind,” Ford Madox Ford’s WWI tetrology Parade’s End, Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 and Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried.
  • Propaganda: War is also depicted in a variety of media such as movies, games, persuasive ads, interviews, and speeches. How is war treated? Is it glamorized, or is the opponent dehumanized? What are the ethics behind this?
  • Biography: Choose a famous leader who is closely associated with war, or an individual whose experience was greatly influenced by it, such as Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, or Napoleon.

These suggestions are only the beginning. A topic like war can be used for many different subjects, and the ideas like the above can be expanded on and tweaked to fit whatever you might need.