In Donald Kagan's introduction to The Peloponnesian War he summarizes his mission:

In this book I attempt a new history of the Peloponnesian War designed to meet the needs of readers in the twenty-first century. It is based on the scholarship employed in my four volumes on the war aimed chiefly at a scholarly audience, but my goal here is a readable narrative in a single volume to be read by the general reader for pleasure and to gain the wisdom that so many have sought in studying this war. I have avoided making comparisons between events in it and those in later history, although many leap to mind, in the hope that an uninterrupted account will better allow readers to draw their own conclusions.

Among the observations that Kagan makes, one of the more striking appears in Chapter Four, "The Decision for War (432)":

Such considerations were foremost in Pericles' mind, but his decision rested also on the strategy he had formulated for fighting the war. Strategy is not merely a matter of military plans, as tactics may be. Peoples and leaders turn to war to achieve their goals when other means have failed, and they formulate a strategy that they believe will attain them through force of arms. Before the outbreak of war, however, different strategies can have different effects on the very decisions that bring on the war or avoid it. In the crusis of 432/1 both Sparta and Athens chose strategies that inadvertently helped foster the war.

The Pelopopponesian War is quite readable, but suffers from poor cartographic design: its 29 maps are sometimes redundant (e.g., map 5 and map 20 are identical), occasionally omit key information, and frequently are hard to find due to poor placement relative to the text which references them. Better would have been to put a few good maps at the front or back of the volume.

(cf. SicilianDefense (3 Apr 2007), ...)

TopicLiterature - TopicSociety - 2007-04-12

(correlates: SicilianDefense, FreudianParalysis, ClassicCorrigendum, ...)