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Dr Jonathan Fennell is a Reader in Modern History and Director of Research at the Defence Studies Department, 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’s research focuses on the military and social history of Britain, the Commonwealth, and the Second World War. He has published two books and is co-editor of a further one. He has published many articles in research journals and other media as well as contributing chapters to edited collections. His most recent monograph, 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, and also the Society for Army Historical Research Templer Medal for the History of the British Army 2020. It was awarded the silver medal in the Military History Matters Book of the Year 2020 (a prize decided by public vote) and was third place in the British Army Military Book of the Year, 2020.


Jonathan is Co-Director of the Sir Michael Howard Centre for the History of War and Co-Founder and President of the international scholarly society, the Second World War Research Group.


  • History
  • Conflict and socio-political change
  • War and public philosophy
  • Combat morale and motivation theory
  • Conflict and security
  • Policy and society
  • Politics
  • International relations

Jonathan’s current research project explores the causes, conduct and consequences of the Second World War. It sets out to develop a fresh account of the war, which bridges the gap between traditional military histories and the mainstream political, social, cultural, economic and environmental histories of the period. The outcome of this research will be published in a three-volume trilogy.

To pursue this aim, the project engages in a series of interlocking analytical approaches: it fully embraces a global, or transnational, ‘vista’ of the Second World War; it is integrative, not only in terms of military, global, social, economic, environmental and cultural history, but also with regards to marginalized histories; and it is committed to exploring the ‘culture of war’, the experiential. This new history aims 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.

Jonathan’s research has been supported by grants from the British Academy, the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Australian Army’s History Unit. He is currently PI on a Collaborative Doctoral Award funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council; the project, which is in collaboration with the Imperial War Museum, focuses on ‘Training in the British and Commonwealth Armies in the Second World War’.


Book Chapters



Teach modules on Modern British and Commonwealth History, The Second World War, War Studies, War and Society, International Relations and Ethics.

PhD Supervision

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
  • Strategy
  • Morale and Motivation
  • Military Doctrine

Visit Dr Jonathan Fennell's PURE profile here.