Thucydides  
The Peloponnesian War
Thucydides was a failure as a general, but had he been more
successful we might never have this work, which is rightly
praised as the first work of scientific history.  His inability to
protect Amphipolis from Spartan invasion caused great anger
among the Athenians, and Thucydides was exiled for a period of
twenty years.  During this time, he moved freely throughout the
rest of the region, and was able to pursue his inquiries into the
causes of the Peloponnesian War which raged between Athens
and Sparta in the final decades of the fifth century B.C.  

We can read this work for the lessons it teaches -- its
perspectives, for example, on the consequences of over-reaching
power, or the linkages between domestic and international
policy.  We can read it for the psychological insights it provides,
showing historical events as driven by men, with their failings
and virtues, and not by the intercession of divine powers.  Or we
can enjoy it for the sweep and drama of its narrative.  From
almost every perspective it still stands out as one of the
greatest works of history, and should be a starting point for any
student before they move on to any of the contemporary books
on this famous conflict.  
TIPS FOR READERS

Go no further than
The Landmark
Thucydides, with its
revision of the
Richard Crawley
translation and a
panoply of maps,
notes, appendices
and other helpful
guides, as well as an
introduction by the
always perspicacious
Victor Davis Hanson.



A MODERN TWIST . . .

If you want another
dose of Victor
Hanson, check out
his book  A War Like
No Other, on this
famous conflict
between Athens and
Sparta.