Dr Jonathan Fennell is a Reader in Modern History at King’s College London. After completing a Doctorate in Modern History at the University of Oxford, Jonathan worked in management consultancy in the City before joining King’s in 2009. Prior to this he was awarded a joint honours History and Politics Degree at University College Dublin. He also studied History as an Erasmus Scholar at Université Lumière Lyon II.
Jonathan is the prize winning author of two books on the military and social history of Britain and the Commonwealth. His most recent book, Fighting the People’s War: The British and Commonwealth Armies and the Second World War (Cambridge University Press, 2019) won the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) Duke of Wellington Medal for Military History 2020, the Society for Army Historical Research Templer Medal for the History of the British Army 2020, the silver medal in the Military History Matters Book of the Year 2020 (a prize decided by public vote) and is currently shortlisted for the British Army Military Book of the Year 2020.
Jonathan is Co-Director of the Sir Michael Howard Centre for the History of War, Co-Founder and President of the international scholarly society, the Second World War Research Group, a member of the National Army Museum Research and Collections Advisory Panel and a Councillor of the Army Records Society.
- Conflict and socio-political change
- War and public philosophy
- Combat morale and motivation theory
- Conflict and security
- Policy and society
- International relations
Jonathan’s research is focused on modern British and Commonwealth history in its global context.
His current research project, which expands on the approaches and methodologies explored in Fighting the People’s War, is a new three volume study of the causes, conduct and consequences of the Second World War. This project sets out to develop a fresh account of the war that bridges the gap between traditional military histories and the mainstream political, social, cultural, economic and environmental histories of the period.
To pursue this aim, the trilogy will engage in a series of interlocking analytical approaches: it will fully embrace a global, or transnational, ‘vista’ of the Second World War; it will be integrative, not only in terms of military, global, social, economic, environmental and cultural history, but also with regards to marginalized histories; and it will be committed to exploring the ‘culture of war’, the experiential. This new history aims, therefore, to interrogate the personal alongside, and in the context of, the great complex events of the 1930s and 1940s. It will be a history of women and men of varied races, creeds and socio-economic backgrounds; one that links the home and battle fronts and places the dramatic political, economic, social, cultural and environmental changes of the second half of the Twentieth Century in a new context.
The trilogy will be published by Penguin Random House (Viking) in the UK, HarperCollins in the US, CITIC in China and Spectrum in the Netherlands.
- Winner of the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), Duke of Wellington Medal for Military History 2020.
- Winner of the Society for Army Historical Research (SAHR), Templer Medal for the History of the British Army 2020.
- Winner of the Silver Award in the Military History Matters Book of the Year 2020.
- Shortlisted for the British Army Military Book of the Year 2020.
- One of The Guardian Readers' ‘Books of the Year, 2019’.
- One of the Cambridge University Press Bookshop’s ‘Books of the Year, 2019’.
- One of BBC History Magazine’s ‘Books of the Year’, 2011.
- Shortlisted for the Royal Historical Society’s ‘Whitfield Prize’.
- Joint Runner-up for the Society for Army Historical Research’s Templer Medal.
- ‘Conservatism, Radicalism and Global Conflict: Britain’s War, 1939-1945’, in Paul Bartrop (ed.), The Routledge History of the Second World War (London: Routledge, in press, 2021).
- ‘Legitimacy, Consent, and the Mobilization of the British and Commonwealth Armies during the Second World War’, in Douglas Delaney (ed.), Manpower and Armies of the British Empire during the two World Wars (Cornell University Press, in press 2020).
- ‘The British Army in WWII’, in D. Showalter (ed.), Oxford Bibliographies in Military History (Oxford University Press, 2020).
- ‘South African Veterans and the Institutionalisation of Apartheid in South Africa’, in Ángel Alcalde and Xosé M. Núñez Seixas (eds.), War Veterans and the World After 1945: Cold War Politics, Decolonization, Memory (London: Routledge, 2018).
- ‘Reevaluating Combat Cohesion: The British Second Army in The Northwest Europe Campaign of the Second World War’, in Anthony King (ed.), Frontline: Combat and Cohesion in the Twenty-First Century (Oxford University Press, 2015).
- ‘Applied Conflict History and the Reflective Practitioner’, Ares & Athena, Issue 14, February 2019.
- ‘Soldiers and Social Change: The Forces Vote in the Second World War and New Zealand’s Great Experiment in Social Citizenship’, English Historical Review, Vol. 132, Issue. 554 (2017).
- ‘In Search of the ‘X’ Factor: Morale and the Study of Strategy’, Journal of Strategic Studies, Vol. 37, Nos. 6-7 (2014).
- ‘Courage, Cowardice and Combat Performance: Eighth Army and the Crisis in North Africa, 1942’, War in History, Vol. 20, No. 1 (2013).
- ‘Air Power and Morale in the North African Campaign of the Second World War’, Air Power Review, Vol. 15, No. 2 (2012).
- ‘VJ Day: Turning the Tide in the East’, BBC History Magazine, Issue 22, August 2019.
- ‘The World Redrawn: The Allied victory that followed the Normandy landings wasn’t merely a military triumph – it unleashed powers of change around the globe’, BBC World Histories Magazine, Issue 16, June/July 2019.
- ‘The Furlough Mutiny and the Struggle for Cassino in the Second World War’, Defence-in-Depth, March 2019 - One of Defence-in-Depth’s 3 most-viewed posts of 2019 with 1,900 views.
- ‘The Story of the State is Far From an Easy Tale of Good Versus Evil’, The Irish Times, 7 February 2019.
- ‘The Ordinary Soldiers' War’, Bookbrunch, 7 February 2019.
- ‘The Defect that Brexit and MAGA Share’, History News Network, 16 January 2019.
Dr Jonathan Fennell PURE Profile
Dr Fennell teaches modules on Modern British and Commonwealth History, Global History, War Studies, International Relations and Ethics.
A comparative analysis of the differing political military command approaches undertaken by New Zealand and Australia in the Mediterranean/North Africa theatre of war, 1940-43, within a changing Imperial-Dominion interrelationship.
- Justin Bronk, Defence Studies, First/primary/lead supervisor, 1/10/2018 → …
Balancing Imagination and Design in British Combat Aircraft Development
"The radical soldier. Assessing the role of extreme violence committed by conventional combatants in Modern Warfare. The British Army in Burma and the American military in the Pacific, 1942-1945"
An analysis of morale in combat in British and Commonwealth infantry battalions in the Burma Campaign 1942 to 1945.
Dr Fennell is happy to supervise PhD students in the following broad subject areas:
- The Second World War
- War and Socio-Political Change
- War and Public Philosophy
- Twentieth Century British and Commonwealth History
- Morale and Motivation
- Military Doctrine