The Archidamian War

The Archidamian War

This book, the second volume in Donald Kagan's tetralogy about the Peloponnesian War, is a provocative and tightly argued history of the first ten years of the war. Taking a chronological approach that allows him to present at each stage the choices that were open to both sides in the conflict, Kagan focuses on political, economic, diplomatic, and military developments. He...

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Title:The Archidamian War
Author:Donald Kagan
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Edition Language:English

The Archidamian War Reviews

  • James Murphy

    The Archidamian War is the 2d volume in Kagan's massive history of The Peloponnesian War. This volume covers the war's first 10 years to 421 BC. Kagan writes with scholarly analysis and authority. Yet he makes it into a wonderfully engaging story, how Athens and Sparta raged and tore at each other competing for supremacy in the Aegean. In detailing all the political, diplomatic, and military developments of the war's opening decade, Kagan has to necessarily include the actions of the players, po

    The Archidamian War is the 2d volume in Kagan's massive history of The Peloponnesian War. This volume covers the war's first 10 years to 421 BC. Kagan writes with scholarly analysis and authority. Yet he makes it into a wonderfully engaging story, how Athens and Sparta raged and tore at each other competing for supremacy in the Aegean. In detailing all the political, diplomatic, and military developments of the war's opening decade, Kagan has to necessarily include the actions of the players, political and military, who determined the course of events. From the opening strategies of Athens' Pericles and Sparta's Archidamus to the exhausted Peace of Nicias and all the heroes and failures in between, Kagan never loses sight of the fact that history is made by individuals and social groups shaped by political ambitions. The result is history as immediate and human as anything in our time. This is magnificent history.

  • Mikeshuler

    This book is not for the casual reader, but it does represent the very best work we will probably ever have for this crucial phase of the Peloponnesian War. The book is clear, concise and very insightful. His footnotes are simply outstanding as just about every idea or theory of earlier writers are given credit or dissected. If you have listened to Kagan's lectures at Yale (on YouTube for plebians such as myself), you can hear his voice leap off the page as he sternly admonishes a prior author's

    This book is not for the casual reader, but it does represent the very best work we will probably ever have for this crucial phase of the Peloponnesian War. The book is clear, concise and very insightful. His footnotes are simply outstanding as just about every idea or theory of earlier writers are given credit or dissected. If you have listened to Kagan's lectures at Yale (on YouTube for plebians such as myself), you can hear his voice leap off the page as he sternly admonishes a prior author's clumsy interpretation of events or gives credit where appropriate. My only complaint concerns the poor quality and scarcity of the maps, but that is simply remedied by keeping a good atlas of ancient Greece at the ready. In 1974 the standard of mapping was just not up to today's standards.

  • Harpal

    Do not read this book unless you are seriously interested in the Peloponnesian War. I was simulating a Spartan committee for model UN one year so I had to read it.

    That disclaimer aside, this book is great if you're serious. The treatment of the material is very detailed and usually has first-rate analysis. Kagan is a great scholar. For me, undoubtedly his strength is the degree to which he dissects and explains the thought processes of the Athenians vis-a-vis the Spartans at each step of the wa

    Do not read this book unless you are seriously interested in the Peloponnesian War. I was simulating a Spartan committee for model UN one year so I had to read it.

    That disclaimer aside, this book is great if you're serious. The treatment of the material is very detailed and usually has first-rate analysis. Kagan is a great scholar. For me, undoubtedly his strength is the degree to which he dissects and explains the thought processes of the Athenians vis-a-vis the Spartans at each step of the war. Both come across as highly cerebral, though, surprisingly, the Spartans seem much more the doves and the Athenians more the hawks. This should come as no surprise to those familiar with the Melian Dialogue. The Ancients did some crazy stuff.

  • Brandie

    My second Kagan history book.

    Not bad overall.

    It's not dry and Kagan does a good job (of what I assume is) presenting lots of information from the war. A few parts of the book did seem to move slowly, but part of me wishes I could go back in time to see those boats and crew rowing and sneaking by and all that jazz!

  • Terri

    This book, nevertheless, is clear and concise. That is if you overlook all those Greek names ! I learned a bit about Ancient Greece as well how the leaders of both the Athenians and the Spartans conducted a war.

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