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Thucydides: An Introduction for the Common Reader [Kindle Edition]

Perez Zagorin
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

This book is a concise, readable introduction to the Greek author Thucydides, who is widely regarded as one of the foremost historians of all time.

Why does Thucydides continue to matter today? Perez Zagorin answers this question by examining Thucydides' landmark History of the Peloponnesian War, one of the great classics of Western civilization. This history, Zagorin explains, is far more than a mere chronicle of the conflict between Athens and Sparta, the two superpowers of Greece in the fifth century BCE. It is also a remarkable story of politics, decision-making, the uses of power, and the human and communal experience of war. Zagorin maintains that the work remains of permanent interest because of the exceptional intellect that Thucydides brought to the writing of history, and to the originality, penetration, and the breadth and intensity of vision that inform his narrative.

The first half of Zagorin's book discusses the intellectual and historical background to Thucydides' work and its method, structure, and view of the causes of the war. The following chapters deal with Thucydides' portrayal of the Athenian leader Pericles and his account of some of the main episodes of the war, such as the revolution in Corcyra and the Athenian invasion of Sicily. The book concludes with an insightful discussion of Thucydides as a thinker and philosophic historian.

Designed to introduce both students and general readers to a work that is an essential part of a liberal education, this book seeks to encourage readers to explore Thucydides--one of the world's greatest historians--for themselves.

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Editorial Reviews


Thucydides: An Introduction for the Common Reader is a useful book.... Thucydides' ... depth and breadth remain an extraordinary reminder of how little political distance we have traveled since his time.


Thucydides: An Introduction for the Common Reader offers an engrossing intellectual appreciation of the most important and most difficult historian in the western cultural tradition. . . . Perez Zagorin . . . brings formidable personal intelligence to major questions in Thucydidian scholarship, and his book goes well beyond the typical synthetic handbook. . . . There is nothing else like it. (Tom Palaima Times Higher Education Supplement )

Thucydides: An Introduction for the Common Reader is a useful book.... Thucydides' ... depth and breadth remain an extraordinary reminder of how little political distance we have traveled since his time. (Peter Stothard The Wall Street Journal )

[E]specially useful as a textbook for undergraduate courses as well as for general readers curious about an ancient historian whose name has a prime place in any history of history, as well as in the study of the mature stage of the classical age of Greece. (Victor Castellani European Legacy )

Product Details

  • File Size: 679 KB
  • Print Length: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (February 9, 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002WJM5GO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #309,083 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, but I'm not the best judge September 11, 2014
I'm lazy: I've never read Thucydides' "The Peloponnesian War," the book that practically created the discipline of history. So I can't judge whether or not Perez Zagorin's "Thucydides" is a good companion volume. I can confirm, however, that Zagorin's book is well-written, thoughtful, and concise. Especially outstanding are the sections on Thucydides' philosophy of human nature and on his qualities as an historian. Bottomline: "Thucydides" has whet my appetite for Thucydides. I'm taking off one star only because I thought the book needed more background information on Greek politics in the 400s BCE. It also needed a map.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Thucydides May 6, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War is one of the finest books I have ever read, yet it is often difficult path to travel and benefits enormously from a lucid guide who points out things that one may have missed. Dr. Zagorin's companion piece is superbly written, highly engaging, and very very useful for illuminating aspects of Thucydides as a person, a writer, and his work.
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More About the Author

Perez Zagorin (1920-2009) was the Joseph C. Wilson Professor of History Emeritus at the University of Rochester and a fellow of the Shannon Center for Advanced Studies at the University of Virginia. He was the author of many articles and a number of books, including "How the Idea of Religious Toleration Came to the West" and "Francis Bacon" (both Princeton).

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