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Writing an Essay about World War I

1. A good essay should reveal an understanding of the general principles and the bigger picture of a historic event. The finest essays combine an understanding of the context with some critical analysis.

The following range of themes may help you identify the overall context of World War I and the potential points of interest for your essay topic.


  • The world before 1914

  • The road that led to war

  • Methods of warfare

  • Battles and battle fronts

  • All-out war

  • Final stages and conclusion

  • Treaties and post-war Europe

  • The impact that World War I has had on the whole world

2. You should plan your essay. Collect the relevant facts, and then create an outline. Pay attention to the strength of your thesis, the quality of historical arguments, and the evidence you have presented to support your thesis.

3. The seven steps listed below will help you create a consistent piece of writing.

Step 1. Analyze the question

a. Make sure you understand the question and its context thoroughly. Though there was an obvious chain of events that led to the First World War, the root causes are deeper. Consider alliances, nationalism, militarism, and imperialism to explain and analyze the events that actually triggered the fighting.

b. No question should be answered by simply reporting the facts. Provide your own judgment about all the historical evidence you use. Try asking yourself analytical questions, such as:

- What was the reaction of nations to the beginning of war in August 1914? Did they support it unanimously?

- Was the Kaiser Wilhelm II effective as a wartime leader?

This is just to name a few possible considerations and to give you a general idea.

c. Be sure to consider all aspects of the question.

Step 2. Collect and structure information

a. You should list everything you know about the topic; then categorize the collected data.

b. Make a draft thesis as an answer to the question.

c. You may use conflicting evidence to contrast your point of view.

Step 3. Develop a thesis

a. A thesis is a brief answer to your question. It should be based on a historical problem and explain why or how something happened.

b. A thesis should be accompanied with personal judgment and interpretation of the evidence.

c. Your thesis should be focused on the way you plan to address the question. If you make your thesis measurable, you will be able to show analytical ability. For example, you may consider the assertion that World War I is often referred to as an unnecessary war. Try to evaluate whether it is true or not.

Step 4. Write an introduction

a. Include the proper background information, i.e., the political and economic circumstances and the basic historical events that preceded the war.

b. State your thesis.

c. Arrange your arguments logically.

Step 5. Write a body section

a. A body should consist of the supporting paragraphs that prove your arguments.

b. Each paragraph should start with a topic sentence that directly relates to the main idea.

c. Provide facts to prove your thesis. Use evidence such as facts, figures, and viewpoints of authoritative historians.

Step 6. Write a conclusion

a. Make your essay end in a simple and coherent way.

b. Focus on your thesis. Restate it in a fresh manner and confirm its significance.

c. Try to make a connection to future events. For example, you can discuss the social, political and economic effects of World War I that are still echoed in the modern society.

Step 7. Review your essay

a. Reread your essay several times and edit it

b. Proofread your final text

World War I provides a vast range of topics to discuss. It is easy to find relevant information and facts, but you should make sure to demonstrate your own interpretation, analysis and conclusions that are based on solid evidence.



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