The Peloponnesian War: Athens and Sparta in Savage Conflict, 431-404 BC

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Harper Perennial, 2005 - Greece - 511 pages
10 Reviews

The Stalingrad of the ancient world, this is an immensely readable, brilliant, brutal and vivid history of the greatest and bloodiest war of ancient Greece.

The Peloponnesian War, fought 2,500 years ago between oligarchic Sparta and democratic Athens for control of Greece, is brought spectacularly to life in this magnificent study. Kagan demonstrates the relevance of this cataclysmic event to modern times in all its horror and savagery. As two uncompromising empires fight a war of survival from diametrically opposing political, social and cultural positions, the seemingly invincible glory of Athens crumbles in tragedy.

Athenian culture and politics was unmatched in originality and fertility, and is still regarded as one of the peak achievements of Western civilisation. Dramatic poets such as Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides and Aristophanes raised tragedy and comedy to a level never surpassed; architects and sculptors were at work on the Acropolis; natural philosophers like Anaxagoras and Democritus were exploring the physical world, and philosophers like Socrates were dissecting the realm of human affairs. All this was lost to this bloody conflict.

In this work of brilliant scholarship, Kagan illustrates his remarkable ability to interpret these events as a part of the universality of human experience. His clear expertise in both the ancient world and the wars of the 20th-century are combined with his storytelling gifts to give an unforgettable portrait of this pivotal war that has shaped the world as we know it.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - justindtapp - LibraryThing

I should have read The Peloponnesian War before I read Xenophon's Anabasis. Xenophon's work takes place shortly after the Peloponnesian War (431-404 B.C.) and that event sets the context of the ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - William345 - LibraryThing

This book is wonderful because it takes Thucydides classic text--itself a wonder--and fills in the gaps, or corrects the ancient text where necessary. Thucydides is cited throughout in a manner ... Read full review

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About the author (2005)

Donald Kagan is Sterling Professor of History and Classics at Yale University. and is an internationally recognised authority on ancient Greek history and culture, as well as a scholar of diplomatic history. He is the author of a four-volume history of the Peloponnesian War that is considered the landmark academic work in the field as well as the highly acclaimed Pericles of Athens and the Birth of Democracy and On the Origins of War and the Preservation of Peace. His writing has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, The Public Interest and the New York Times Book Review.

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