School of History


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Professor Ian Beckett

Professor of Military History

History (Rutherford W2.W5)

Ian Beckett is a military historian.

Ian Beckett’s research focuses on British auxiliary forces, the First World War, and the late Victorian army. On auxiliary forces, his publications have included The Amateur Military Tradition, 15548-1945 (1991) and, most recently, the edited Citizen Soldiers and the British Empire, 1837-1902 (2012). In 2008 he wrote Territorials: A Century of Service, the official publication marking the centenary of the Territorial Army. On the First World War, his publications include the co-edited A Nation in Arms: A Social Study of the British Army in the First World War (1985); The Great War, 1914-18, the second edition of which was published in 2007; and, most recently, The Making of the First World War (2012). On the Victorian army, his publications include The Victorians at War (2003); and Wolseley and Ashanti: The Asante War Journal and Correspondence of Major General Sir Garnet Wolseley (2009).

Currently, he is working on the politics of command in the late Victorian army, examining the factors that led to particular soldiers being selected for campaign and other major command appointments against the background of recognised rival factions.

A Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, he has been Chairman of the Council of the Army Records Society since 2000, and is also Secretary to the Buckinghamshire Military Museum Trust. He is on the executive council of the Buckinghamshire Record Society, and is on the editorial boards of Small Wars and Insurgencies, and of two monograph series, Insurgency, Counter-insurgency and National Security (Routledge), and The History of Military Occupation (University of Illinois Press). He lectures regularly for Swan Hellenic and Hebridean cruises, and is also a lecturer for the National Association of Decorative and Fine Arts Societies. He has previously held chairs in both the UK and the US.

Ian is also a Historian/Researcher for BBC South under the AHRC/BBC ‘Our Place in the First World War’ project, and is on the AHRC Peer Review College.

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  • The Making of the First World War: A Pivotal History (Yale University Press, 2012). pp. 263.
  • Territorials: A Century of Service (DRA Publishing for MOD, 2008). pp. 275.
  • Ypres: The First Battle, 1914 (Longman/Pearson, 2004). pp. 221. Paperback edn., 2006.
  • The Victorians at War (Hambledon, 2003). pp. 272. Paperback edn., 2006.
  • The First World War: The Essential Guide to Sources in the UK National Archives (Public Record Office, 2002). pp. 288.
  • The Great War, 1914-1918 (Longman-Pearson, 2001). pp. 508. Revised 2nd edn., 2007. pp. 813.
  • Modern Insurgencies and Counter-insurgencies: Guerrillas and their Opponents since 1750 (Routledge, 2001). pp. 268.
  • The Amateur Military Tradition, 1558-1945 (Manchester University Press, 1991). pp. 340.
  • Johnnie Gough VC: A Biography of Brigadier-General J E Gough, 1871-1915 (Tom Donovan, 1989). pp. 244.
  • Riflemen Form: A Study of the Rifle Volunteer Movement, 1859-1908 (Ogilby Trusts, 1982). pp. 368. Paperback edn., Pen & Sword, 2007.


Edited document volumes

  • (ed), The Memoirs of Sir James Edmonds (Brighton: Tom Donovan Editions, 2013). Pp. 50 + xxiv. ISBN 9781905968077
  • (ed.), Wolseley in Ashanti: The Asante War Journal and Correspondence of Major-General Sir Garnet Wolseley, 1873-74 (Army Records Society, 2009). pp. 548.
  • (ed.), Modern Counter-insurgency (Ashgate, 2007). pp. 488.
  • (ed. with Ian Toplis, George Clarke and Hugh Hanley) Recollections of Nineteenth Century Buckinghamshire (Bucks Record Society, 1998). pp. 194. ‘Personal Reminiscences of the Buckinghamshire Volunteers by Owen Peel Wethered’, pp./123-72.
  • (ed.), The Judgement of History: General Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien, Lord French and 1914 (Tom Donovan, 1993). pp. 132.
  • (ed.), The Army and the Curragh Incident, 1914 (Bodley Head for Army Records Society, 1986). pp. 456.
  • (ed.), The Buckinghamshire Posse Comitatus for 1798 (Bucks Record Society, 1985). pp. 437.

Edited volumes of essays

  • (ed.) Rommel: A Reappraisal (Barnsley: Pen & Sword, 2013) Pp. 182. ISBN 9781781593592
  • (ed.) Citizen Soldiers and the British Empire, 1837-1902 (Pickering & Chatto, 2012). pp. 210. ‘Introduction’, pp. 1-22, and ‘Britain’, pp. 23-40.
  • (ed. with Steven Corvi) Victoria's Generals (Pen & Sword, 2009). pp. 226. ‘George Colley’, pp. 74-91.
  • (ed.) 1917: Beyond the Western Front (Brill, 2008). pp. 179. ‘Introduction’, pp. ix-xviii.
  • (ed.) Victorians at War: New Perspectives (Society for Army Historical Research Special Publication No 16, 2007). pp. 102. ‘Another British Way in Warfare: Charles Callwell and Small Wars’, pp. 89-102.
  • (ed. with Steven Corvi), Haig's Generals (Pen & Sword, 2006). pp. 217. ‘Sir Henry Rawlinson’, pp. 164-82.
  • (ed. with David Chandler), The Oxford Illustrated History of the British Army (Oxford University Press, 1994). pp. 654. Paperback edn., 1996. 2nd edn., 2003. ‘The Amateur Military Tradition’, pp. 402-16.
  • (ed. with Keith Simpson), A Nation in Arms: A Social Study of the British Army in the First World War (Manchester University Press, 1985; Tom Donovan, 1990; and Pen & Sword Books, 2004). pp. 276. ‘The Nation in Arms’, pp. 1-36; ‘The Territorial Force’, pp. 127-64.
  • (ed. with John Pimlott), Armed Forces and Modern Counter-insurgency (Croom Helm and St Martin's Press, 1985). pp. 232. ‘The Portuguese Army: The Campaign in Mozambique, 1964-74’, pp. 136-62; ‘The Rhodesian Army: Counter-insurgency, 1972-79’, pp. 163-89.
  • (ed. with John Gooch), Politicians and Defence: Studies in the Formulation of British Defence Policy, 1846-1970 (Manchester University Press, 1981). pp. 202. ‘H O Arnold-Forster and the Volunteers’, pp. 47-68.


  • ‘Retrospective Icon: The Martini Henry’, in Karen Jones, Giacomo Macola and David Welch (eds) A Cultural History of Firearms in the Age of Empire (Ashgate, 2013), pp. 233-50.
  • ‘The Amateur Military Tradition Revisited’, in Catriona Kennedy and Matthew McCormack (eds), Soldiering in Britain and Ireland, 1750-1850: Men in Arms (Palgrave, 2012), pp. 219-35.
  • ‘The Historiography of Insurgency’, in Paul B Rich and Isabelle Duyvesteyn, eds., The Routledge Handbook of Insurgency and Counterinsurgency (Routledge, 2012), pp. 23-31.
  • ‘From Guerrilla War to Insurgency’, in Karl Erik Haug and Ole Jørgen Maaø, eds., Conceptualising Modern War (Hurst & Co, 2011), pp. 89-110.
  • ‘The British Counter-insurgency Campaign in Dhofar, 1965-75’, in Daniel Marston and Carter Malkasian (eds.), Counterinsurgency in Modern Warfare (Osprey, 2010), pp. 175-90.
  • ‘The Compulsion of Destitution: The British Army and the Dilemma of Imperial Defence, 1870-1914’, in Peter Dennis and Jeffrey Grey (eds.), Raise, Train and Sustain: Delivering Land Combat Power (Canberra: Australian Military History Publications, 2010), pp. 1-29.
  • ‘Manipulating the Modern Curse of Armies: Wolseley, the Press, and the Ashanti (Asante) War, 1873-74’, in Stephen Miller (ed.), Soldiers and Settlers in South Africa, 1850-1918 (Brill, 2009), pp. 221-34.
  • ‘Going to War: Southampton and Military Embarkation’, in Miles Taylor (ed.), Southampton: Gateway to the British Empire (I B Tauris, 2007), pp. 133-48.
  • ‘Victory, Counter-insurgency and Iraq’, in Jan Angstrom and Isabelle Duyvesteyn (eds.), Understanding Victory and Defeat in Contemporary War (Routledge, 2006), pp. 77-93.
  • ‘Britain’, in Robin Higham (ed.), Researching World War One: A Critical Handbook (Greenwood Press, 2003), pp. 79-98.
  • ‘Selection by Disparagement: Lord Esher, the General Staff and the Politics of Command, 1904-14’, in David French and Brian Holden Reid (eds.), The British General Staff: Reform and Innovation, 1890-1939 (Frank Cass, 2002), pp. 41-56. Volume won the Templer Medal for the best book on British military history published in 2002.
  • ‘King George V and his Generals’, in Matthew Hughes and Matthew Seligmann (eds.), Leadership in Conflict, 1914-18 (Leo Cooper, 2000), pp. 247-64.
  • ‘The South African War and the Late Victorian Army’, in Peter Dennis and Jeffrey Grey (eds.), The Boer War: Army, Nation and Empire (Army History Unit, Defence Department, Canberra, 2000), pp. 31-44.
  • ‘Buller and the Politics of Command’, in John Gooch (ed.), The Boer War: Image, Experience and Direction (Frank Cass, 2000), pp. 41-55.
  • ‘British Official History’, in Craig Wilcox (ed.), Recording the South African War: Journalism and Official History, 1899-1914 (Sir Robert Menzies Centre, 1999), pp. 33-42.
  • ‘Military High Command in South Africa, 1854-1914’, in Peter Boyden, Alan Guy and Marion Harding (eds.), Ashes and Blood: The British Army in South Africa, 1795-1914 (National Army Museum, 1999), pp. 60-71.
  • ‘Haig and French’, in Brian Bond and Nigel Cave (eds.), Field-Marshal Sir Douglas Haig: Seventy Years On (Leo Cooper, 1999), pp. 51-63.
  • ‘Hubert Gough, Neill Malcolm and Command on the Western Front’, in Brian Bond (eds.), Look to Your Front: Studies in the First World War (Spellmount, 1999), pp. 1-12.
  • ‘Kitchener and the Politics of Command’, in Edward Spiers (ed.), The Reconquest of the Sudan, 1898: A Reappraisal (Frank Cass Publishing, 1998), pp. 35-53.
  • ‘Military History’, in Anthony Gorst and Larry Butler (eds.), Modern British History: Methods and Perspectives (I B Tauris, 1997), pp. 183-194.
  • ‘Operational Command: The Plans and the Conduct of the Battle’, in Peter Liddle (ed.), Passchendaele in Perspective (Leo Cooper, 1997), pp. 102-116.
  • ‘Command in the Late Victorian Army’, in Gary Sheffield (ed.), Leadership and Command: The Anglo-American Military Experience since 1861 (Brasseys, 1997), pp. 37-56.
  • ‘Facing Armageddon: A Select Bibliography’, in Hugh Cecil and Peter Liddle (eds.), Facing Armageddon: The First World War Experienced (Leo Cooper, 1996), pp. 891-895.
  • ‘Low-intensity Conflict: Its Place in the Study of War’, in David Charters, Marc Milner and Brent Wilson (eds.), Military History and the Military Profession (Praeger, 1992), pp. 121-130.
  • ‘Frocks and Brasshats’, in Brian Bond (ed.), The First World War and British Military History (Oxford University Press, 1991), pp. 89-112.
  • ‘The Militia and the King's Enemies, 1793-1815’, in Alan Guy (ed.), The Road to Waterloo (Alan Sutton for National Army Museum, 1990), pp. 32-39.
  • ‘The Real Unknown Army: British Conscripts, 1916-19’, in J-J Becker and S Audoin-Rouzeau (eds.), Les sociétés européennes et la guerre de 1914-1918 (Centre d'Histoire de la France contemporaine, Université de Paris X-Nanterre, 1990), pp. 339-356.
  • ‘Guerrilla Warfare: Insurgency and Counter-insurgency’, in McInnes and Sheffield, op cit., pp. 194-212.
  • ‘Total War’, in Colin McInnes and Gary Sheffield (eds.), Warfare in the Twentieth Century (Unwin Hyman, 1988), pp. 1-23. [Also reproduced in Clive Emsley, Arthur Marwick and Wendy Simpson (eds.), War, Peace and Social Change in Twentieth Century Europe (Open University Press, 1989), pp. 26-44; Arthur Marwick, Clive Emsley and Wendy Simpson (eds.), Total War and Historical Change: Europe, 1914-55 (Open University Press, 2001), pp. 24-41; and partially reproduced in Lawrence Freedman (ed.), War (Oxford University Press, 1994), pp. 254-259].
  • ‘The British Army, 1914-1918: The Illusion of Change’, in John Turner (ed.), Britain and the First World War (Unwin Hyman, 1988), pp. 99-116.
  • ‘The Territorial Force in the Great War’, in Peter Liddle (ed.), Home Fires and Foreign Fields: British Social and Military Experience in the First World War (Brasseys, 1985), pp. 21-38.


  • ‘The Road from Kandahar: The Politics of Retention and Withdrawal in Afghanistan, 1880-81’, Journal of Military History 778 (2014), pp. 1263-94
  • ‘The Annual Confidential Report and Promotion in the Late Victorian Army’ British Journal for Military History 1 (2014), pp. 12-28
  • ‘Military Commemoration in Britain: A Pre-History’, Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research 92 (2014), pp. 147-59
  • ‘British Counterinsurgency: An Historiographical Reflection’, Small Wars and Insurgencies 23, 4-5, 2012, pp. 781-98
  • ‘Forward to the Past: Reflections on British Responses to Insurgency’, Militaire Spectator 177, 3, 2008, pp. 144-54
  • ‘Soldiers, the Frontier and the Politics of Command in British India’, Small Wars and Insurgencies 16, 3, 2005, pp. 280-92
  • ‘The Future of Insurgency’, Small Wars and Insurgencies 16, 1, 2005, pp. 22-36 [Also reproduced in Australian Army Journal 5, 2, 2008, pp. 261-78]
  • ‘Victorians at War: War, Technology and Change’, Journal of the Society of Army Historical Research 81, 2003, pp. 330-9
  • ‘Britain's Imperial War: A Question of Totality?’, Joernaal vir Eietydse Geskiedenis 25, 2, 2000, pp. 1-22
  • ‘Women and Patronage in the Late Victorian Army’, History 85, 279, 2000, pp. 463-80
  • ‘The Soldiers' Documents of the Great War and the Military Historian’, Archives 23, 98, 1998, pp. 63-67
  • ‘Robert Thompson and the British Advisory Mission to South Vietnam, 1961-1965’, Small Wars and Insurgencies 8, 3, 1997, pp. 41-63
  • ‘The Military Historian and the Popular Image of the Western Front, 1914-1918’, The Historian 53, 1997, pp. 11-14
  • ‘Revisiting the Old Front Line’, Stand To 43, 1995, pp. 10-14
  • ‘The South African War and its Historians’, Small Wars and Insurgencies 2, 2, 1991, pp. 276-298
  • ‘Some Further Correspondence relating to the Curragh Incident of March 1914’, Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research LXIX, 278, 1991, pp. 98-116
  • ‘The Study of Counter-insurgency: A British Perspective’, Small Wars and Insurgencies 1, 1, 1990, pp. 47-53
  • (with Keith Jeffery), ‘The Royal Navy and the Curragh Incident’, Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research 62, 147, 1989, pp. 54-69
  • ‘The Amateur Military Tradition in Britain’, War and Society 4, 2, 1986, pp. 1-16
  • ‘A Note on Government Intelligence and Surveillance during the Curragh Incident, March 1914’, Intelligence and National Security 1, 3, 1986, pp. 435-440
  • ‘Aspects of a Nation in Arms: Britain's Volunteer Training Corps in the Great War’, Revue internationale d'histoire militaire 63, 1985, pp. 27-39
  • ‘The Stanhope Memorandum of 1888: A Re-interpretation’, Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research LVII, 136, 1984, pp. 240-247
  • ‘The Evolution and Decline of the Restoration Militia in Buckinghamshire, 1660-1745’, Records of Buckinghamshire 26, 1984, pp. 28-43
  • ‘The Singapore Mutiny of February 1915’, Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research LXII, 251, 1984, pp. 132-153
  • ‘Edward Stanhope at the War Office, 1887-1892’, Journal of Strategic Studies V, 2, 1982, pp. 278-307
  • ‘The Local Community and the Amateur Military Tradition: A Case Study of Victorian Buckinghamshire’, Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research LIX, 238/239, 1981, pp. 95-110, 161-170
  • ‘The Amateur Military Tradition: New Tasks for the Local Historian’, The Local Historian XIII, 8, 1979, pp. 475-481
  • ‘The Local Community and the Great War: Aspects of Military Participation’, Records of Buckinghamshire XX, 4, 1978, pp. 503-515
  • ‘The Problem of Military Discipline in the Volunteer Force, 1859-1899’, Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research LVI, 266, 1978, pp. 66-78
  • ‘Buckinghamshire Militia Lists for 1759: A Social Analysis’, Records of Buckinghamshire XX, 3, 1977, pp. 461-469
  • ‘The Volunteers and the RUSI’, Journal of the Royal United Services Institute for Defence Studies 122, 1, 1977, pp. 58-63

Review Article

  • ‘War, Identity, and Memory in Ireland’, Irish Economic and Social History 36, 2009, pp. 63-84.

Research Report

  • Insurgency in Iraq: An Historical Perspective (Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College, 2005). pp. 21.


  • Richard Holmes (ed.), Oxford Companion to Military History (Oxford University Press, 2001).
  • John Childs (ed.), A Dictionary of Military History (Blackwell, 1994).
  • Keith Robbins (ed.), Blackwell Biographical Dictionary of British Political Life in the Twentieth Century (Blackwell, 1990).


  • ‘British Armed Forces: From the Glorious Revolution to the Present’, in Oxford Bibliographies Online: Military History (2011)
  • New Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2005). 25 articles.


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School of History, Rutherford College, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NX

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Last Updated: 21/10/2014