Alexander Watson (historian)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Alexander J. Watson
Born (1979-07-12) 12 July 1979 (age 39)
OccupationHistorian, writer, and professor
Alma materExeter College, Oxford (BA hons), Balliol College, Oxford (doctorate)
SubjectBritain and Central Europe during World War I
Notable worksRing of Steel: Germany and Austria-Hungary at War, 1914–1918 (2014)
Notable awardsWolfson History Prize (2014)

Alexander James Watson (born 12 July 1979) is a British historian, writer, and professor. He is the author of two books, which focus on Britain and Central Europe during World War I.[1] His most recent book, Ring of Steel: Germany and Austria-Hungary at War, 1914-1918, won numerous awards. Currently Watson is an exams officer and Lecturer in History at Goldsmiths, University of London.[2][3][4]


In 2000, Watson received his Bachelor of Arts (hons) degree in Modern history from Exeter College, Oxford. He began his doctoral degree in 2001 at Balliol College, Oxford, and completed in 2005.[1] From 2005 to 2008, he was a Clare Hall, Cambridge Research Fellow.[1][2][4] For three years, starting in 2008, Watson was a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Cambridge.[2][4] In 2010, he was a College Research Associate at St. John's College, Cambridge.[1] Watson was a Marie Curie Intra-European Fellow at the University of Warsaw in Poland from 2011 to 2013.[4][5]


Watson's first book, Enduring the Great War; Combat, Morale and Collapse in the German armies (1914–1918), began as his doctoral thesis in October 2001. It was published by Cambridge University Press in 2008. The book focuses on the psyche of German and British soldiers in World War I and attempts to understand how they were able to fight for all those years. In 2006, it was awarded the Fraenkel Prize from the Institute of Contemporary History and Wiener Library.[6]

In October 2014,[7] Watson's second book, Ring of Steel: Germany and Austria-Hungary at War (1914–1918) was published. To write the book, he spent two years researching archives in Poland, Germany, and Austria. His reason for writing the book was to better understand the war from the perspective of the Central Powers' leaders and their peoples; how they were able to endure suffering and commit crimes that would later lead to "even greater horrors of totalitarian dictatorship, a second world war and genocide".[8] The book received many accolades. It was awarded The Sunday Times 2014 History Book of the Year,[9] the 2015 Distinguished Book Award from the Society for Military History,[8] and the 2015 British Army Military Book of the Year.[5] On 23 March 2015 Watson was awarded the second annual[10] 2014 Guggenheim-Lehrman Prize in Military History, and received $50,000. The award is given to the best book in the field of military history published during the previous calendar year.[7] During a ceremony on 14 May 2015, Watson received the Wolfson History Prize for Ring of Steel.[9] Along with this prize, Watson was also awarded £25,000.[3]

Watson has written for The New York Times, Times Higher Education, and History Today. He has been interviewed for BBC Radio programs, "World War One" and "Good Morning, Scotland", and appeared on the German Channel's documentary, "The Search for the Lost Sons. One Hundred Years of the First World War".[4]

Currently, Watson teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in history at Goldsmiths, University of London.



  • "Mutinies and Military Morale", contributor to The Oxford Illustrated History of the First World War, 2014, ISBN 978-0199663385
  • "Morale", contributor to The Cambridge History of the First World War. Vol II. The State, 2014, ISBN 978-0521766531
  • Ring of Steel: Germany and Austria-Hungary at War (1914–1918), 2014, ISBN 978-1846142215
  • "Indecisive Victory? German and British Soldiers in the Armistice, 11 November 1918", contributor to The Silent Morning: Memory, Culture, and the Armistice, November 1918, 2013, ISBN 978-0719090028
  • "Voluntary Enlistment in the Great War: a European Phenomenon", contributor to War Volunteering in Modern Times. From the French Revolution to the Second Great War, 2011, ISBN 978-0230228054
  • Enduring the Great War. Combat, Morale and Collapse in the German and British armies, 1914–1918, 2008, ISBN 978-0521881012


  • "Unheard of Brutality": Russian Atrocities against Civilians in East Prussia, 1914–1915, The Journal of Modern History, 2014, ISSN 0022-2801
  • "Fighting for Another Fatherland: the Polish Minority in the German Army, 1914–1918", The English Historical Review, 2011, ISSN 0013-8266
  • "Bereaved and Aggrieved: Combat Motivation and the Ideology of Sacrifice in the First World War," Historical Research, 2010, ISSN 1468-2281
  • "Culture and Combat in the Western World, 1900–1945," The Historical Journal, 2008, ISSN 0018-246X
  • "Junior Officership in the German Army during the Great War, 1914–1918", War in History, 2006
  • "Self-Deception and Survival: Mental Coping Strategies on the Western Front, 1914–1918", Journal of Contemporary History, 2006
  • "For Kaiser and Reich": the Identity and Fate of the German Volunteers, 1914–1918", War in History, 2005


  1. ^ a b c d "Dr Alexander Watson". St. John's College University of Cambridge. St. John's College University of Cambridge. 2014. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  2. ^ a b c "Speaker details: Alexander Watson". Chalke Valley History Festival June 2015. Chalke Valley History Festival June 2015. 2015. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  3. ^ a b "Latest Prize Winners". The Wolfson Foundation. 14 May 2015. Archived from the original on 4 September 2013. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "Professor Alexander Watson". Goldsmiths, University of London. Goldsmiths, University of London. 2015. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  5. ^ a b "Ring of Steel". Bokus. Bokus. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  6. ^ "Review of Enduring the Great War". OU History Society. OU History Society. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  7. ^ a b Baggetta, Angela (23 March 2015). "Alexander Watson Wins $50,000 Guggenheim-Lehrman Prize in Military History". Market Wired. Market Wired. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  8. ^ a b "Watson Wins History Prize". Aitken Alexander Associates. Aitken Alexander Associates. 19 May 2015. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  9. ^ a b Morgan, Tom (20 May 2015). "Dr Alex Watson wins Wolfson History Prize". Goldsmiths University of London. University of London. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  10. ^ "Awards: Folio; Guggenheim-Lehrman; Books for a Better Life". Shelf-Awareness. Shelf-Awareness. Retrieved 30 December 2015.

External links[edit]