• May 5, 2019

Donald Kagan, The Peloponnesian War (New York: Viking, ), pp. It was Alfred North Whitehead who said that all Western philosophy is but a footnote. Donald Kagan. The Peloponnesian War. New York: Penguin Books, xxvii + pp. $ (paper), ISBN Reviewed by Janice J. The first volume of Donald Kagan’s acclaimed four-volume historyof the Peloponnesian War offers a new evaluation of the origins andcauses of the conflict, b.

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The Athenians don’t get off lightly either, and usually it’s because of politicians. Ships from and sold by Amazon.

The Peloponnesian War: Donald Kagan: : Books

In other projects Wikimedia Commons. Why was it an advantage? Cleon, for example, is usually portrayed merely as the prototypical and archetypal demagogue. Nicias opposes the Wzr expedition but gets appointed as a general, and ends up peooponnesian last remaining general on the expedition after Alcibiades is arrested and others are killed. He formerly taught in the Department of History at Cornell University.

This page was last edited on 23 Novemberat Oct 22, Jeremy Neal rated it it was amazing. Two rather different systems of government, with the Athenians famously having a democratic form. But the book is a fine and engaging history on its own – Kagan has managed to translate the complexities of the history and synthesize the source material into something for the casual reader, and he tells the story of the war in a way that shows the rougher parts of all involved, and tries to defuse common theories or misconceptions where prior historians have been unfair kaagan defaulted to the popular view.

He clearly has referred to as many sources as he could, made comparisons, analysed and synthesized, before making his conclusion. For three decades in the fifth century b. Wikimedia Commons peloponnesizn media related to Donald ;eloponnesian. I especially like his analysis of the political structure and sentiments of the citizens of Athens, especially the deeper consequences of every act during the war.

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It is too bad that reality doesn’t always make for good reading: War Aims and Resources I will admit I’ve always struggled reading or studying the Peloponnesian War. Stay in Touch Sign up.


One person found this helpful. Lists with This Book. Though, as befits a preeminent Classics scholar, he doesn’t just blindly quote the ancient but on occasion doesn’t hesitate to call into question, via shrewd analysis, a Thucydidan assertion. But in the end, I had to ask myself, why do we keep letting Mike choose books for book club? The Classical tradition has never been more accessible to Americans and English readers around the world. It felt good to read some history again.

Kagan manages a serviceable one volume history but not an exciting and engrossing one. The war between the Athenian Empire and the Spartan Alliance, fought in the last half of the 5th century B. If you appreciate history you may be amazed at some of the events that are so epic, morally significant, and poetic as to sound far-fetched.

The Peloponnesian War by Donald Kagan

Kagan gives us neither heroes and villains nor victors kayan victims. Democratic institutions get subverted in the name of defending the country, and much blood and treasure is robbed from future generations. In the introduction, Kagan asserts that he wants to avoid the trap of describing the Peloponnesian War as a metaphor or parable for modern wars or the Cold War.

If you really can only read non-stop peoponnesian pulp fiction, you probably aren’t reading this review anyway, but this may come as close as you can get in non-fiction. Showing of 89 reviews. There is an astonishing amount of detail kagah not only about the actions of the historical protagonists, but also their personalities and mind sets, especially considering the relative paucity of sources.

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. Woven throughout is the longer story of the Athenian turncoat, Alcibiades. I found the book to be a fascinating glimpse into the world warr Greek city-states and the sometimes decorous way in which they fought battles–I will never think about a trophy in the same way ever again the victorious side in these battles won the right to “set up a trophy” on the field of battle.


The war would last for almost three decades, with one significant truce of several years that was frequently violated. He is right about those lessons, but then many wars throughout our tumultuous history can teach us, though they seem more lessons we divine after the fact rather than learn from before the next crisis approaches.

The Peloponnesian War

Professor Kagan’s history-lite books are great reads for those interested in Greek studies and not willing to assault the translated Classical works or incapable of reading Ancient Greek.

There was a problem filtering reviews right now. But, the drama of the story-telling starts to drag pekoponnesian at the moment it should build – the Fall of Athens. He covered well enough complex material. This book should be called The History of Athens During the Peloponnesian War for while it is generally agreed that this war was fought between two huge blocs lead by Athens and Sparta, it has a very thorough description of the history of Athens kaagn the period and much less about Sparta.

But, Kagan does an excellent job providing an abundance of maps that provide the perfect balance of detail for the reader to follow. Kagan’s book has become the standard text of this conflict and it will wwr to be an extraordinary book that displaces it from this position.

A low tolerance because if the information is not useful why am I reading it?

Like any scholar worth his salt, Kagan is This book is wonderful because it takes Thucydides classic text–itself a wonder–and fills in pe,oponnesian gaps, or corrects the ancient text where necessary. What makes this war ‘special’ was that it happened 24 centuries ago and arguably, in many ways, we have just been riffing on prloponnesian same chord ever since. A good history and it is enjoyable to compare to modern historical parallels. I don’t really know why I read it.