The Peloponnesian War
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
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
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
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
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
In addition to learning much more than I ever knew about fascinating figures like Pericles...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
I especially appreciated how the author refrained from resorting to pedantry and didn't waste page space trying to draw trite parallels between the war and some current event to give mileage to whatever beliefs he might hold--it was strictly history, and the reader was free to draw the parallels that he may.