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War in the Modern World

Dive into military history and strategy with this 24-episode course focused on the geopolitical conflicts, weapons, strategies, and personalities that have defined war since 1945.
War in the Modern World is rated 4.4 out of 5 by 45.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Highly recommended, especially in video format This is an excellent course which covers much of significance in world history since 1945. It is a balanced, fair treatment of the topic which I believe approaches what would be considered an academic consensus. It is neither a denunciation of "Yankee imperialism" nor an apology for the US as a "global police" or for a "Pax Americana," although a reasonable if blunt conclusion one could draw from it -- one that the excellent Prof. Stone does not make -- is that US foreign policy has frequently made a thorough mess of different parts of the world. Anyone concerned about national security and world peace will find this worthwhile, and even those with a moderate knowledge of recent military history should learn from it. I recommend the video version, since there are many maps which are essential to grasp the content.
Date published: 2024-01-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Comprehensive War Overview - 20th/21st Centuries Oustanding in depth and breath of the complex factors involved in modern warfare. Primer for anyone interested in international relations.
Date published: 2023-12-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from war in the modern world I bought more or less one month ago, and is very interesting.May be few about urban warfare, but in general is a very good course
Date published: 2023-12-05
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Deep Stater prof plus ultra-naive liberalism The most egregious is the context free lecture on Latin America. Hey, Professor, have you heard that the US was in a global struggle vs. the USSR at the time? Just sayin'... But the problem is more ubiquitous, as every lecture seems to assume that the underlying problem was the political actors' lack of "expertise". Sure, just like in "The best and the brightest". That said, if you're copasetic with, say, Tom Nichols of The Atlantic, then the lecturer might be preaching to you and your choir mates.
Date published: 2023-11-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from So interesting! Love Dr. Stone's style and the amount of information is just amazing. Highly recommend.
Date published: 2023-11-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent! I watched this 2022 course on my Wondrium account. It is fascinating and informative. Professor Stone’s previous TC course, ‘World War II: Battlefield Europe’, provided me with a new perspective on the war of my father’s generation. This course does the same for conflicts during my own lifetime. Professor Stone provides fascinating details on the many post-WWII era insurgencies, civil wars, and other conflicts. I thought I knew a fair amount about the wars in the post-WW II period, but I learned much more from the course, benefiting from Professor Stone’s useful comments and analysis (not all of which, however, I agree with!), especially his correcting common assumptions. The course is well organized and paced, providing very useful historical context. It is full of excellent photos, videos, and other illustrative material, most notably, maps. This is the kind of course to which I will return as needed to better understand our troubled world. The course guidebook is a fine supplement to the lectures and includes lists of books for further study.
Date published: 2023-10-12
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Rather biased His democratic leanings are a bit hard to swallow.. Of course the most obvious is the Afghanistan fiasco that he blames on Trump and gives a total pass to Biden. The other one that really ticks me off is calling everything since WWII a "civil war." Really? The six day war by Israel killing 20000 Egyptians was a Civil war? I have never heard that before. After that I started to take everything he said with a shovelfull of salt. But then in the end he's a bureaucrat. Piled high and deep.
Date published: 2023-10-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding Although I have considerable education in modern history, and I have kept up with current events over the years, I learned an enormous amount, even on topics on which I thought I knew a lot. This is a model of how history should be taught: a solid background coupled with a clear exposition that puts description and analysis in good balance. The chapter on Yugoslavia's Wars is a perfect example of how a great historian works. This work stands above most military histories, because it goes beyond the usual weapons technology and battles. Professor Stone puts military developments within the the political and cultural context of the places--matters which he shows are often decisive. 5 stars!
Date published: 2023-05-20
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Guided by expert David R. Stone, of the US Naval War College, War in the Modern World explores the political realities, people, groups, technology, weapons, and strategies that have shaped conflicts since World War II. Define insurgency, counterinsurgency, and civil war, become familiar with modern weapons, study violent conflicts within empires, and see how large imperial powers struggled to contend with insurgency. Analyze the causes and effects of history-defining conflicts, and emerge a sharper and more informed student of history and contemporary affairs overall.


David R. Stone

The world today is a product of the second world war in too many ways to count.


U.S. Naval War College

David R. Stone is the William E. Odom Professor of Russian Studies at the US Naval War College. He received his PhD in History from Yale University. He has written or edited several books on military history, including Hammer and Rifle: The Militarization of the Soviet Union, 1926–1933, which won the ASEEES Marshall D. Shulman Book Prize and the Historical Society Best First Book Prize. He is also the author of dozens of articles on Russian military history and foreign policy, and he is the expert for the Great Course World War II: Battlefield Europe.

By This Professor

War in the Modern World
World War II: Battlefield Europe
War in the Modern World


Afghanistan and the Nature of Modern War

01: Afghanistan and the Nature of Modern War

After the Second World War, the nature of war—not only where, but how it is fought—changed dramatically. In the course’s inaugural episode, begin to explore the transformation of violent conflicts between major world powers by delving into a particularly recent example: America's 20-year war in Afghanistan.

31 min
Nightmare Scenarios of Modern War

02: Nightmare Scenarios of Modern War

What kinds of wars are we likely to fight today and against whom? From the “McDonald’s theory”—referring to when a country can economically support a network of McDonald’s restaurants—to a state’s nuclear capabilities, evaluate the factors that explain why wars between great powers look different nowadays, and explore what future conflicts could look like between the United States and two of its major adversaries.

25 min
The Tools of Modern Warfare

03: The Tools of Modern Warfare

New weapons are constantly being introduced in war. Discover how five contemporary technologies—the Kalashnikov assault rifle, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), guided missiles, drones, and cyber warfare—redefined the rules of battle in the modern era and leveled the playing field between world powers and insurgent groups.

24 min
From World War to Cold War

04: From World War to Cold War

Travel back in time to examine the series of events that followed World War II from the allied occupation of Germany to the Greek Civil War. See how the Soviet Union contended with insurgencies in the Baltic region and explore the beginnings of a new kind of global conflict between the United States and the USSR.

28 min
Europe’s Exit from Colonial Asia

05: Europe’s Exit from Colonial Asia

The future of Asia, occupied by various powers in the early 20th century, became murky after 1945. One thing was clear though: Few people wanted to see colonial occupiers reassert influence there. Here, zero in on conflicts in Indonesia, the Philippines, and India to see how geopolitics in the region transformed after the war.

30 min
China’s Civil War

06: China’s Civil War

As war raged on across the globe, China had to contend with a civil war between Mao Zedong’s Communists and Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist Party. Explore the war from its colonial roots to the establishment of the People’s Republic of China and discover how the USSR and the United States became involved in the bloody conflict.

26 min
The Unfinished Korean War

07: The Unfinished Korean War

Why did America fight a war in Korea? How did the USSR engage with the conflict? Could the United States wage a “limited” war on the peninsula like it had intended? And what are we to make of a war that ended not in peace, but in an armistice? Get to the bottom of these questions and more.

26 min
Britain’s Exit from Palestine, Malaya, and Kenya

08: Britain’s Exit from Palestine, Malaya, and Kenya

In the decades that followed World War II, a flurry of well-organized rebellions exploded within the British Empire. Investigate the gruesome conflicts that shook postwar Palestine, Kenya, and Malaya. Determine the efficacy of British counterinsurgency tactics and discover what these confrontations reveal about war and colonialism in the postwar era.

28 min
France’s Vietnam War

09: France’s Vietnam War

Like the UK, France struggled to hold on to its overseas territories. Explore the fight waged by Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh to establish a communist government in his country. Learn about the complicated, bloody history of Algerian independence, and see how each of these wars highlighted the costs of both colonialism and protracted involvement in local conflicts.

28 min
Insurgency and Counterinsurgency

10: Insurgency and Counterinsurgency

Waged by groups within a particular country, an insurgency can be defined as rebellion from below. But how does each side—the haves and have-nots—approach the fight? Examine the characteristics of insurgent and counterinsurgent warfare by looking at their application in real conflicts, as well as the strategies that guide them.

28 min
The Arab-Israeli Wars: Israel’s String of Triumphs

11: The Arab-Israeli Wars: Israel’s String of Triumphs

Dive into the thorny history of Israel and Palestine, from the rise of Zionism in the 19th century to the Six-Day War. See how other entities like the United Nations and Israel’s Arab neighbors navigated complex political tensions. And investigate the series of Arab-Israeli wars that shaped the region into what it is today.

28 min
The Arab-Israeli Wars: Victory without Peace

12: The Arab-Israeli Wars: Victory without Peace

The Six-Day War, though a testament to Israel’s military might, did not resolve its problems. Explore how the Israeli state dealt with instability both inside of and beyond its borders post-1967. Follow the events that led to the historic Camp David and Oslo Accords. And examine contemporary clashes between Israel and hostile groups like Hezbollah and Hamas.

30 min
India-Pakistan: The Enduring Rivalry

13: India-Pakistan: The Enduring Rivalry

In the 1960s, India and Pakistan went to war over the northern territory of Kashmir. But why? What can history reveal about the territorial anxieties facing both nations? And how did global powers like the United States respond to the violent conflicts that engulfed the subcontinent after World War II? Answer these key questions here.

30 min
The World War That Never Happened

14: The World War That Never Happened

Having explored so many volatile conflicts thus far, one question comes to mind: Why hasn’t World War III happened yet? From the dawn of atomic power to the Cuban Missile Crisis, discover how nuclear weapons fundamentally changed the way that great powers engage with each other globally.

29 min
America’s Vietnam War

15: America’s Vietnam War

The war in Vietnam remains one of America’s most salient military losses, testing just how far the United States was willing to go in the global battle against communism. Focus on America’s war in Vietnam by examining the history and military strategy behind the conflict across two decades and three US presidencies.

28 min
The Soviet War in Afghanistan

16: The Soviet War in Afghanistan

While America struggled to beat back communism in Vietnam, the Soviet Union fought a costly, unsuccessful war of its own in Afghanistan. What factors contributed to the loss? Why were Afghans so resistant to the USSR and the Soviet-aligned People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan?

29 min
Latin America’s Revolutionary Wars

17: Latin America’s Revolutionary Wars

Investigate the scale and scope of violent conflicts in Latin America. Start by examining the lead up to a civil war in Guatemala. Investigate the rise of communism in Cuba through the life of Fidel Castro. Then, take a closer look at the violence surrounding a right-wing government in Chile and a left-wing government in Nicaragua in the late 20th century.

29 min
The War for the Falklands

18: The War for the Falklands

What did war at sea look like in the post-World War II era? The infamous clash between Great Britain and Argentina over the Falklands might offer some clarity. Explore the causes and effects of the Falklands war. Investigate why Britain succeeded and Argentina did not. And discover the importance of anti-ship cruise missiles.

27 min
Africa’s Modern World War: Rwanda and Congo

19: Africa’s Modern World War: Rwanda and Congo

Civil wars are some of the deadliest contemporary conflicts we fight, but are they more common now than they were before the Second World War? Understand what it really means to fight a civil war and learn about the extraordinarily violent conflicts that tore Congo and Rwanda apart.

29 min
The Iraq-Iran War

20: The Iraq-Iran War

The 1980 Iran-Iraq War fundamentally changed geopolitics in the region; human costs aside, the conflict altered international relations in the 21st century. Delve into a three-way rivalry between Iraq, Iran, and Saudi Arabia that eventually blossomed into war, and understand how the United States fit into the mix.

30 min
Desert Storm: The US versus Iraq

21: Desert Storm: The US versus Iraq

Why did Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein invade Kuwait, and how did the United States retaliate? Focus on one of the most important post-Cold War military conflicts: the Persian Gulf War. Examine the importance of international coalition building and see how Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein became emboldened by the fight.

29 min
Yugoslavia’s Civil Wars

22: Yugoslavia’s Civil Wars

Intense ethnic conflicts plagued Yugoslavia for more than a century. In the 1990s, just a year after the fall of the Berlin Wall, these internal tensions manifested in war on the European continent. Dive into the history of the Bosnian War and how the so-called “new world order” contended with violent conflict in Europe.

28 min
A New Russian Empire?

23: A New Russian Empire?

War and the decline of great empires often go hand in hand. So was the story of the Soviet Union, a sprawling empire that collapsed in 1991. Investigate how the Russian Federation tried to reassert dominance over the former Soviet bloc by starting wars with Georgia, Chechnya, and Ukraine.

29 min
Iraq and ISIS in the War on Terror

24: Iraq and ISIS in the War on Terror

Finish the course by exploring America’s nine-year war in Iraq, from the first Gulf War to the withdrawal of US troops in 2011. Start by exploring the ideology that drove the US invasion. Chart the rise of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and ISIS and conclude by examining why the United States could not bring democracy to Iraq.

31 min