Greg's Reviews > Thucydides: The Reinvention of History

Thucydides by Donald Kagan
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's review
Aug 16, 2012

really liked it

Donald Kagan is the pre-eminent modern historian of the Peloponnesian War, and in this book, he retells the essential parts of the history in the context of Thucydides' aims. Kagan's essential point is that Thucydides, writing for a contemporary audience, is attempting to sway the readers away from popular interpretation of events toward the true, as he defined it, interpretation of events. He uses a number of artistic devices to do this - his selection of speeches and the juxtaposition of events foremost among them. To be specific, Thucydides is critical of direct democracy run by the mob, as opposed to the democracy led by Pericles. Kagan's argument is well-supported, and straightforwardly presented. For the reader without background in the Peloponnesian War, he presents complimentary history to go along with the argument. Kagan also, especially at the end, emphasizes that Thucydides presents the truth and makes an argument for its interpretation, as opposed to misrepresentation of the facts. In his analysis of the treatment of Nicias, he clearly articulates that Thucydides is sometimes less than successful.

I highly recommend this book for the depth of its analysis, the clear presentation of the history itself, and the quality of Kagan's writing and research.

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