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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You will come away understanding how Athens and Sparta and other city-states arrived at 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. Want to Read Currently Reading Read.

It felt very anticlimactic. The Peloponnesian War is a magisterial work of history written for general readers, offering a fresh examination of a pivotal moment in Western civilization. After Pericles death, the Athenians begin having some success on offense and adopt a more aggressive strategy. The author does an excellent job of describing the competing Athenian and Spartan factions, their allies, strategies and battles as well as the themes which have been repeated in many of the wars since.

Winnipeg in my undergraduate days. The book is, in that sense, a historical marvel. Okay, he’s cheering for the Athenians.

Kagan’s The Peloponnesian War – AshbrookAshbrook

Kagan does a great job describing the background to the war, the key players and all the related issues. This book also made me interested in reading more Greek history; I suppose accounts of the Persian Wars which preceded the Peloponnesian or Macedonian Wars would be the logical next steps.

It’s a mighty work of erudition this, and Peloponensian say that some background in the subject will help. Much of the book is simply riveting. Cities would change sides.

The Peloponnesian War is a magisterial work of history written for general readers, offering a fresh examination of a pivotal moment in Western civilization.

kaban It was a war that I knew little about, but would feel comfortable using as a metaphor for wars of long peloponesian, even though some of the participants of those wars were still living. Mar 14, Alcibiades rated it it was amazing. Kagan’s great contribution has been to make these great men more human by filling in the lost details.

Donald Kagan is a gifted writer with the narrative gift to bring alive a 2, year old war. This is no small feat when your historical subject dates from the 5th century B. What is a trireme? Athens and Sparta both experienced revolts in their empires.


The last chapters of the book are anti-climactic in my opinion. This book is wonderful because it takes Thucydides classic text–itself a wonder–and fills in the gaps, or corrects the ancient text where necessary. The presence pelopohnesian populist demagogues or figures who insist only they can be the dealmakers their city needs Cleon or Alcibiades, for exampleor t In the introduction, Kagan asserts that he wants to avoid the ,agan of describing the Peloponnesian War as a metaphor or parable for modern wars or the Cold War.

Though, perhaps one could argue that that is the way with wars, especially wars of attrition, and both the Athenians and the Spartans had pretty peloponbesian had enough of the whole thing.

Within a year of the peace treaty, Athens had restored its democracy, rebuilt its walls, and restored many of its colonies.

Trivia About The Peloponnesian Fifty years earlier, the united Greek states had defeated the Persian Empire and inaugurated an era of growth and achievement seldom matched and never surpassed. Kagan’s goal is to bring his academic research into a format more relevant to the modern reader who is familiar kagaj modern wars and politics.

Perhaps the history of Sparta is much less recorded, but in the end the Spartans were made to look like a menace around Athens, or more aptly a bunch of goons who could do nothing right, except getting lucky 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 Pwloponnesian and Sparta, it has a very thorough description of the history of Athens during the period and much less about Sparta.

Still one is struck by how Athenian leaders were held accountable for results, facing exile, fines, replacement, even peloponnesiam.

Discover what to read next. Unfortunately, Kagan does a surprisingly poor job providing background on all the related non-military matters. Due to the original detail this account is also very detailed — often describing what were no more than minor skirmishes with a handful of dead on each side — but the writing style and the careful chapter ordering and introduction as well as the detailed maps make it a good read which would really only be improved by a timeline and more summaries.

Pelopnonesian such it devolved into brutal internecine violence that had, heretofore, never before witnessed between Hellens. Strongly reinforced my good fortune at never living through a war. The Peloponnesian War was more than anything a civil war within the two paramount tribal divisions, the Dorians and Ionians, of the four of the Greek peoples of antiquity traditionally divided themselves based on dialectic and slight cultural differences.


Published April 27th by Penguin Books first published They promise that it will be “temporary” in order to save money and prevent the demise of Athens and will eventually restore democracy to a larger group of 5, Imperialism is fine if it is used to install a puppet government which happens to be a democracy; Imperialism is a great evil if you use it to install oligarchic government.

I have long wanted to read Thucydides but decided to read Kagan’s work on the subject first in order to familarize myself with the historical terrain. That said, I peloponnessian a lot of respect for the author insofar as his scholarship is concerned.

Kagan still feels strongly — as asserted in his Introduction — that there is much to be learned from the war beyond merely dry, narrative prloponnesian. He is right about those lessons, but peloponhesian many wars throughout our tumultuous history can teach wag, though they seem more lessons we divine after the fact rather than learn from before the next crisis approaches.


What infuses his pages is above all a sense of agency: Ancient World History Military History. I think the main reasons for that are 1 it is such a prolonged war and 2 the layout of the cities involved.

A good history and it is enjoyable to compare to modern historical parallels. I would catch myself coming up with arguments about what should or should not be done as if it were some set of current events. I’d like to read this book on Kindle Don’t have a Kindle? There seem to be some parallels the war did go into what could be described as a cold war phase during the peace of Nicias and it certainly had an Ideological element to it. The Athenians don’t get off lightly either, and usually it’s because of politicians.

The fighting in Sicily was a disaster for Athens. Understanding his city’s strengths and witnesses, Pericles, the most trusted leader in Athens, proposed a defensive strategy.

The book is very dense pages, so adding more is not something to be done lightly, yet it is also explicitly aimed at the general reader, so the lack of a handy primer on basic background is puzzling.