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Yale professor of classics Kagan thoroughly examines Thucydides' life and work to successfully demonstrate that the Athenian historian was the first to utilize a truly professional (i.e., realistic and methodical) approach in recounting contemporary events. An unsuccessful general and a devoted adherent of Pericles, Thucydides believed that the Peloponnesian War was the most significant event in Greek history. He was determined that his study of the war, unlike more romantic or folkish histories, would stand the test of time because of his attention to detail; his comprehensive documentation includes symptoms of the mysterious plague afflicting Athens for the benefit of future generations, showing the historian's far-sighted versatility. To his credit, Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War remains a necessity in the study of international relations, military strategy and political science. Like his subject, Kagan (The Peloponnesian War) tends to minimize the impact of Herodotus on the evolution of history as a discipline, yet any such weakness is offset by the inescapable fact that if Herodotus remains the acknowledged Father of History, then Thucydides could be described as the Father of Objective History, who opened the realm of history to serious study. (Nov. 2)
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Acclaimed for his independence of judgment, Thucydides might have written more reliable history had he not separated himself so sharply from his contemporaries. So Kagan argues in this provocative reassessment of the great Greek historian. To be sure, Kagan acknowledges Thucydides’ singular accomplishment as the father of political history, a new intellectual enterprise based upon painstaking factual research and complete repudiation of traditional mythology. However, careful analysis repeatedly shows that in his famous account of the Peloponnesian War, the Greek historian allows his biases to intrude. Scornful of the Athenian democracy that exiled him for his own failure at Amphipolis, Thucydides interprets key events—such as Cleon’s victory at Pylos and the disastrous Athenian expedition to Sicily—as justification for his prejudices. Remarkably, in the details he himself provides, Thucydides furnishes Kagan with ample evidence for challenging the historian’s interpretations. Ultimately, Thucydides emerges as a writer so intent on discrediting the prevailing public understanding of the war that he merits the label “revisionist.” A daring approach to a cultural icon. --Bryce ChristensenSee all Editorial Reviews
really interesting book that examines Thucydides as a historian and a writer and his role in shaping popular understanding and scholarship of Athens. Read morePublished 7 months ago by madmicah
Donald Kagan, as well as writing the book "Thucydides: The Reinvention of History", is also the author of a well-received tetralogy on the Peloponnesian War. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Doktor Faustus
Thucydides is an amazing historian and Kagan did a great of providing a concise account of him and the Peloponnesian war. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Larry Van bibber
This book is a detailed review of a 5th century BC historian ( according to many the first real historian) by a distinguished 20th century historian. Read morePublished on May 18, 2012 by W. Tappan Lum
Is history just one damn thing after another? Or can we discover the underlying logic of events that will allow us to shape a better future? Read morePublished on June 23, 2010 by Peter Renz