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The Landmark Thucydides: A Comprehensive Guide to the Peloponnesian War

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  2,257 ratings  ·  211 reviews
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Thucydides called his account of two decades of war between Athens and Sparta "possession for all time, " and indeed it is the first and still most famous work in the Western historical tradition. Considered essential reading for generals, statesmen, and liberally educated citizens for more than 2,000 years, The Peloponn
Paperback, 713 pages
Published February 10th 2008 by Free Press
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Aug 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"Oh God, Not the Peloponnesian War Again", lamented an article in Foreign Policy. To be honest, I understand where the author is coming from. Besides the fact that there is so much more of history to learn from and read about, Thucydides has been excerpted and misinterpreted almost to meaninglessness. Sentences, summaries, and single anecdotes from his book have been used as the basis for predictions on great power politics and the fate of China and the United States, like white noise over an ac ...more
Jan 10, 2009 is currently reading it
Favorite quote:
"The absence of romance in my history will, I fear, detract somewhat from its interest, but if it is judged worthy by those inquirers who desire an exact knowledge of the past as an aid to the understanding of the future, which in the course of human things must resemble if it does not reflect it, I shall be content.
In fine I have written my work not as an essay with which to win the applause of the moment but as a possession for all time." -Thucydides
Jun 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If you ever wanted to tackle Thucydides, this is the way to do it. It's beautifully laid out, with helpful maps and other material. The reading experience is profoundly moving, not really for the style but for the sheer weight of human folly on display. This should be required reading for politicians of all stripes. ...more
Jan 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
I first read Thucydides in college, using Rex Warner's translation in the Penguin edition. As a frosh with little background in ancient history and political science, I didn't have the proper perspective to realize Th.'s critical place in western historiography and political thought. As a junior, I re-read Th., this time in a course on ancient historians. At that point, having had modest exposure to Hobbes, Machiavelli, Burke, Clausewitz and the like, I was better equipped to appreciate Th.'s me ...more
Jun 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Probably 4.5 stars due to Thucydides dry narrative but an awesome read. Political stupidity has not changed.
If you are going to read Thucydides, the Landmark version is the best place to start. I read this after I became a fan of Strassler's The Landmark Herodotus: The Histories. For me, there is not much better than Thucydides' speeches. "The Funeral Oration of Pericles", "Diodotus to the Athenian Ecclesia", "Demosthenes to his troops at Pylos" & "Nicias before the last sea fight" are all some of the most interesting, moving and inspiring speeches and harangues EVER written.

Thucydides' HOPW (Landmar
But none of these allowed either wealth with its prospect of future enjoyment to unnerve his spirit, or poverty with its hope of a day of freedom and riches to tempt him to shrink from danger. No, holding that vengeance upon their enemies was more to be desired than any personal blessings, and reckoning this to be the most glorious of hazards, they joyfully determined to accept the risk, to make sure of their vengeance and to let their wishes wait; and while committing to hope the uncertainty of
An Idler
Dec 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A fantastic achievement of history and common grace wisdom.

Thucydides is famous for his unornamented style, but it's far from dull. The Peloponnesian War brims with drama, grandeur, tragedy, horror, and heroism. It's not without the occasional longueur - Homer nods, and Thucydides metaphorically naps during pages of diplomatic maneuvering and abortive revolts. That's a small price to pay for the astounding orations (the Funeral Oration, but also the Melian Dialogue and a dozen others), narrative
Nate Huston
Aug 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Fine. I nerded out on this one too. I really liked it. Might I suggest, however, that it is exceedingly beneficial (it was to me, at least) to take a look at Donald Kagan's lectures on the same subject. You can view them or download them at Lectures 18-21.

Anyhow, while the detail with which Thucydides recounts some of the battles can be tedious at times(though perhaps not to a military historian), the subject matter dealt with is timeless. Pericles's fun
May 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It's hard to review such a monumental work but I'll say a few words.
Thucydides is truly worthy of being called one of the greatest historians. His work is complex in narrative and profound in his insights into human and political realities. His speeches and dialogues are fantastic with the Syracusan, Mytilene, and Melisan dialogues and speeches being among my favourite.
While I loved the entire book the most spectacular for me are books 6 and 7. Thucydides treatment of the Sicilian expedition i
Sep 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Finally finished the whole thing. It's quite a piece, and I highly recommend the Landmark edition which comes with maps and tables that greatly aid in the enormous task of parsing all of these old places and names into a coherent military campaign. While I do admire Thucydides direct, strictly empirical style, there's so much less of the kooky local flavor here which made Herodotus so rich, as a result it can be slow and ponderous at times. That being said, the speeches and dialogues Thucydides ...more
I struggled with this at first because there’s a lot of information to keep track of, and there are some very dry parts, but it won me over eventually. I deliberately didn’t take a lot of notes on the dry, tactical stuff, but there's much more than that here. I probably remember those parts as less prominent than they actually are; they don't stick in my mind because the overall effect is so devastating. For the most part, I found it absolutely captivating. I'd call it one of the most relentless ...more
Czarny Pies
May 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone. It is a basic classic of Western Civilization
Recommended to Czarny by: Professor Keyes and Boake, U of T
Anyone who believes that democracy is a good idea has not read Thucydides' Peloponnesian War. Thucydides blamed the outbreak of the war and the unnecessary prolongation to Athens' democratic system. Unlike the neighbouring states in the Peloponnesian peninsula which were oligarchies of owners of large agriculture estates the affairs of Athens were controlled by merchants who dominated the elections.

As Athens acquired more client states in the region to facilitate its commercial activities, the s
Joshua Lister
Oct 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book is powerful. Thucydides writes a mournful account of Athen's fall from grace. When societies are given over to the mentality that the strong rule by virtue of their own strength, it will ultimately lead to chaos and despair. This point is made powerfully in the Melian Dialogue and is constant throughout the narrative.
This period of Greece's history was dark and this is the first account that I know of (other than Ecclesiastes) to explicitly declare the vanity of pursuing man's glory. A
Simon Stegall
Aug 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
My first foray into ancient history. It's dry at times, but there are moments when Thucydides as an author and historian really shine through. I especially love the way he frames Athens and their greed in terms of hubris... even the Greek historians were somewhat philosophers. Overall, about half the book was was palatable and the other half page-turning (as far as history goes). I feel capable of reading historians now. ...more
Alexander Rolfe
Apr 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
What an interesting book! I liked it very much. It was hard to follow at times, but this edition helps a lot. The many appendices at the end are well worth reading, and as pithy as the main work.

Apr 09, 2009 marked it as to-read
Shelves: classic, history
(A good annotated edition of a classic work is always an excellent find; the Landmark edition's reviews indicate this one is a winner.) ...more
Susanna - Censored by GoodReads
Dec 02, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommended to Susanna - Censored by GoodReads by: Dr. Grote
Not an easy read, but an interesting one.
Bogdan Raț
Mar 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Great annotated edition but somehow difficult to read at times due to its 19th century translation.
Apr 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
At times incredibly fascinating. At times, incredibly boring. It still speaks of how widely spread and recurring is human stupidity.
Nov 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Been about 8 years since I read Thucydides ll the way through. I don’t really know how one would improve on the Landmark Edition. Just about perfect.
Dec 29, 2020 added it

2,400 years later and it is still the premier work on international relations and great power politics. There is so much wisdom to take away from this text that it is hard to know where to start. I suppose that the only thing that can really be done here is to bisect the work into its two main focuses. It must be said that when Thucydides recounts the order of battle or discusses tactics, this work is dull, uninteresting, and not work re-rea
Z. J. Pandolfino
Feb 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
We classicists often talk about accessibility. Yes, one cannot truly appreciate Thucydides’s literary style, which is terribly complex, without the Greek in front of her, but The Peloponnesian War in its original Greek would take months for even a dedicated student hell-bent on an authentic experience with the text to plough through it. With The Landmark Thucydides, editor and unaffiliated scholar Robert B. Strassler makes a bold and unquestionably successful attempt to make the Athenian histori ...more
Apr 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book was a whopper. I'm kind of surprised I was able to finish it because it was a difficult read. First of all, the names are pretty hard to keep track of. My head was spinning when the Acarnanians and the Amphilochians were fighting against the Ambraciots. You have to keep track of Opuntian Locris vs Ozolian Locris vs the Locri in Italy. You get a good feel that Cnidos, Halicarnassus, Rhodes, Cos, and other places are in southwestern Asia Minor, whereas Samos, Chios, Erythrae, Miletus, et ...more
May 02, 2021 rated it really liked it
It's pretty obvious quite early on why this is still considered current. The parallels to World War I are hard to avoid, such are the similarities they both share.

It's not a easy read. Some parts are page turners, others are hard to go through. Like the Herodotus edition, I can't imagine a better way to read these books than the Landmark editions. Highly recommended for all the maps, the short summaries besides each paragraph, the amazing introduction, the timelines ...

There's so much here that
Nov 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
“Right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.”

I’ll give my readers the same warning Thucydides does: this text is not for the faint hearted. It is not funny, or romantic, or even exciting (odd given how it’s a war story). It took me a year to read because of its difficulty and tedium. It’s the epitome of an ancient, arcane tome no one in our society has time for. Outside of military academies it is n
Gregg Wingo
Apr 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Through the centuries Thucydides' "Peloponnesian Wars" has been considered the definitive history of this struggle for Hellenic hegemony, however, in terms of the contemporary standards of the history profession he is a chronicler and more aptly described as the father of political science and current events studies. This is due to the fact that unlike Herodotus he did not hold to the 50-year rule of generational objectivity, rather, he is a primary and secondary material source for the events o ...more
Jim Coughenour
May 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: europeanhistory
I bought this handsome edition when it was first published in 1996, dutifully slogged through the first book, then staggered across the room and put it back on the shelf. This spring, encouraged by a group of similarly eccentric aspirants, I read the whole thing. It's magnificent – a founding work of "historical consciousness" (a nod here to the neglected classic by John Lukacs) that is also, astonishingly, one of the best.

This is not easy reading by any means, but the maps and footnotes in Stra
Aug 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013
Well, that was a behemoth.

It took 2 months of 5 a.m. study sessions to put this one to bed, but, I have no regrets. In a lot of ways it reminded me of Churchill's memoirs of WW2 with the detailed inventories of soldiers and arms. I have no doubt that Churchill was familiar with this work. I'm not the most devoted follower of military history but I did find myself getting caught up in the stories. The Athenian attempt on Sicily was particularly fraught.

I don't want to give anything away but, we
Grant Richardson
Aug 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
*First time reading, spoilers to follow

The Peloponnesian War itself: 7/10 a good account of a fascinating war. Thucydides sounds surprisingly modern when discussing events, just matter of factly reporting the facts without supernatural explanations. The text itself is relatively easy to follow, for being such an old work. If you don't like military history, you won't like this book, as a lot of time is spent on the minutiae of campaign. My least favorite part is that it doesn't cover the end of
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Thucydides (c. 460 B.C. – c. 395 B.C.) (Greek Θουκυδίδης, Thoukydídēs) was a Greek historian and author of the History of the Peloponnesian War, which recounts the 5th century B.C. war between Sparta and Athens to the year 411 B.C. Thucydides has been dubbed the father of "scientific history" due to his strict standards of evidence-gathering and analysis in terms of cause and effect without refere ...more

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