William Philpott

William Philpott


Professor William Philpott teaches the history of warfare in the Department of War Studies, King' College London, an internationally renowned centre for the study of war and conflict. He taught modern European and international history in a number of British universities, before joining King's College in 2001 as their historian of the First World War. He specialises in the history of Anglo-French relations, British strategy, and the military operations of the French army, and has published several books and more than twenty scholarly articles and chapters on these subjects.

He has lectured in Britain, France, Germany, Canada and Australia to academic and public audiences. He is a Councillor of the Army Records Society (for whom he is editing Sir John French's command diaries), Secretary General of the British Commission for Military History, and a fellow of the Royal Historical Society. He is academic editor of the Palgrave Macmillan monograph series Studies in Military and Strategic History, and sits on the editorial board of the leading French military history journal, Revue Historique des Armées. In 2005 he was a visiting fellow at the Centre d'études d'histoire de la Défense in Vincennes and in 2006 at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra. He was appointed fellow to the Douglas Haig Fellowship in 2011.

Following Bloody Victory, his wide-ranging, critically acclaimed history of the battles of the Somme in 1916 (Little, Brown UK; Knopf, US), his highly praised War of Attrition, on the strategic conduct of the First World War was published by Little, Brown in the UK and Overlook Press in the US in 2014.

William Philpott

Latest Release

War of Attrition by William Philpott

The magnum opus of the First World War, from the outstanding historian at the King's College Department of War Studies.

The First World War was too big to be grasped by its participants. In the retelling of their war in the competing memories of leaders and commanders, and the anguished fiction of its combatants, any sense of order and purpose, effort and achievement, was missing.

Drawing on the experience of front-line soldiers, munitions workers, politicians and those managing the vast economy of industrialised warfare, War of Attrition explains for the first time why and how this new type of conflict born out of industrial society was fought as it was. It was the first mass war in which the resources of the fully mobilised societies strained every sinew in a conflict over ideals - and the humblest and highest were all caught up in the national enterprise.

In a stunning narrative, this brilliant and necessary reassessment of the whole war cuts behind the myth-making to reveal the determination, organization and ambition on all sides.

    Other Publications

    by William Philpott

      War of Attrition
      Bloody Victory