The Peloponnesian War
For three decades in the fifth century b.c. the ancient world was torn apart by a conflict that was as dramatic, divisive, and destructive as the world wars of the twentieth century: the Peloponnesian War. Donald Kagan, one of the world's most respected classical, political, and military historians, here presents a new account of this vicious war of Greek against Greek, At...more
Kagan's scholarship is tremendous, as is his breadth of knowledge on the subject. His style is generally entertaining, with a very British style of dry humor that tend to make history books much more readable to a wide audience.
My main fault with the book is his ideological biases which are extremely transparent. For example, he is pro-democracy to the point of forgiving the assembly vo ...more
Most countries and its citizens make two mistakes when contemplating war. Those are assumptions are 1) the war will unfold precisely in the way the proposed strategy dictates and 2) the war can be quickly won. That is true today and it was true in 431 BC. Approximately fifteen years into a tenuous thirty year peace treaty between Athens and Sparta, ,the hegemonic powers of Greece, war erupted. While Sparta is/was known for its prominence fighting, its ...more
Donald Kagan is apparently the world's fo ...more
Still, the narrative is solid and the maps are pretty good and in ...more
This book is a military and political ...more
In addition to learning much more than I ever knew about fascinating figures like Pericles ...more
The condensation effort isn't entirely successful. Often times the work has a "collection of facts" quality to it (reminded me of the worst aspect of high school history textbook). The reader is constantly bombarded with list of ...more
Also, the "Sources" chapter at the end, only 3-and-a-half pages long, contains a bibliographic essay with very few monographs titles, and none in original Greek - not even Thucydides's. Based on my limited impression, Kagan can hardly be called a classical scholar, onl...more
Accounts from those who lived in those days and the notable historians who followed.
Stories of personal triumph and tragedy.
An exploration not only into the fragility of democracy but our very humanity.
All cobbled together by one of the foremost leading experts on the subject of this period in human history.
These alone would make for a good read, but what I did not expect was just how brilliant author Donald Kagan's writing was. Throughout, Kagan's ab ...more
It was one of those books, on a subject I have spent a lot of time on in my life, that is akin to pain and pleasure. However, there is absolutely information and concepts in this book I have not read elsewhere.
There are many, many details. If sanitized political, social and philosophical intrigue is your bailiwick, this book is for you. If you cannot slog through page after page of dispassionate, ...more
I would have liked a bit more historical perspective. This book is covering a 30 year war in 500 pages, not really leaving much time to stop and take note of historical era, the criticality of the war, etc.
despite the author’s attempt to keep things straight with maps and short breaks, there are so many engagements, battles, side battles, sieges, rebellions and cities/territories that the many battles oftentimes ru ...more
Additionally, Kagan's analyses of states at war makes t ...more
A gigantic chess like encounter, played over the ancient Med, that spilled into North Africa and Corsica, much like a twentieth century World War.
The leading players and personalities of the opposing societies, with their economic and agrarian advantages and disadvantages are so very well dealt with here. Who won ...more
The best part book is the numerous, clear yet detailed maps. I have a problem keeping places and names straight, so having a large number of maps to refer back to helped i ...more
The book begins with a small amount of backstory about the Spartan-Athenian union to fight the Persians. The narrative then describes the political and military events which caused and continued the war. The book spends a fair amount of time discussing politics of the Athenian democracy, probably because of the instability they struggled with after the death of Pericles.
By all reports, the author knows what he is writing about. The nature of the topic requires the filling in of certain gaps of information by using informed judgement and I did not interpret these observations as any kind of ideological ...more