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An accessible modern translation of essential speeches from Thucydides's History that takes readers to the heart of his profound insights on diplomacy, foreign policy, and war Why do nations go to war? What are citizens willing to die for? What justifies foreign invasion? And does might always make right? For nearly 2,500 years, students, politicians, political thinkers, an An accessible modern translation of essential speeches from Thucydides's History that takes readers to the heart of his profound insights on diplomacy, foreign policy, and war Why do nations go to war? What are citizens willing to die for? What justifies foreign invasion? And does might always make right? For nearly 2,500 years, students, politicians, political thinkers, and military leaders have read the eloquent and shrewd speeches in Thucydides's History of the Peloponnesian War for profound insights into military conflict, diplomacy, and the behavior of people and countries in times of crisis. How to Think about War presents the most influential and compelling of these speeches in an elegant new translation by classicist Johanna Hanink, accompanied by an enlightening introduction, informative headnotes, and the original Greek on facing pages. The result is an ideally accessible introduction to Thucydides's long and challenging History. Thucydides intended his account of the clash between classical Greece's mightiest powers--Athens and Sparta--to be a "possession for all time." Today, it remains a foundational work for the study not only of ancient history but also contemporary politics and international relations. How to Think about War features speeches that have earned the History its celebrated status--all of those delivered before the Athenian Assembly, as well as Pericles's funeral oration and the notoriously ruthless "Melian Dialogue." Organized by key debates, these complex speeches reveal the recklessness, cruelty, and realpolitik of Athenian warfighting and imperialism. The first English-language collection of speeches from Thucydides in nearly half a century, How to Think about War takes readers straight to the heart of this timeless thinker.


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An accessible modern translation of essential speeches from Thucydides's History that takes readers to the heart of his profound insights on diplomacy, foreign policy, and war Why do nations go to war? What are citizens willing to die for? What justifies foreign invasion? And does might always make right? For nearly 2,500 years, students, politicians, political thinkers, an An accessible modern translation of essential speeches from Thucydides's History that takes readers to the heart of his profound insights on diplomacy, foreign policy, and war Why do nations go to war? What are citizens willing to die for? What justifies foreign invasion? And does might always make right? For nearly 2,500 years, students, politicians, political thinkers, and military leaders have read the eloquent and shrewd speeches in Thucydides's History of the Peloponnesian War for profound insights into military conflict, diplomacy, and the behavior of people and countries in times of crisis. How to Think about War presents the most influential and compelling of these speeches in an elegant new translation by classicist Johanna Hanink, accompanied by an enlightening introduction, informative headnotes, and the original Greek on facing pages. The result is an ideally accessible introduction to Thucydides's long and challenging History. Thucydides intended his account of the clash between classical Greece's mightiest powers--Athens and Sparta--to be a "possession for all time." Today, it remains a foundational work for the study not only of ancient history but also contemporary politics and international relations. How to Think about War features speeches that have earned the History its celebrated status--all of those delivered before the Athenian Assembly, as well as Pericles's funeral oration and the notoriously ruthless "Melian Dialogue." Organized by key debates, these complex speeches reveal the recklessness, cruelty, and realpolitik of Athenian warfighting and imperialism. The first English-language collection of speeches from Thucydides in nearly half a century, How to Think about War takes readers straight to the heart of this timeless thinker.

30 review for How to Think about War: An Ancient Guide to Foreign Policy

  1. 4 out of 5

    Miebara Jato

    I just finished this concise and insightful book. An abridged version of Thucydides's Peloponnesian War. It covers the unsuccessful negotiations between Athens and Sparta, and also the important speeches that preceded the war. The key questions the book answered includes: Why do nations go to war? What are citizens willing to die for? What justifies foreign invasion? And does might always make right?

  2. 4 out of 5

    Dean M (Vox Poetica)

    A collection of ancient but timeless speeches on war, politics, and foreign policy. Highly recommend you have whiskey and cigars on hand to take these in. Also recommend listening to the audiobook for full effect. Speeches should be listened to not read.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jacopo Quercia

    "Anyone who maintains that we have nothing useful to learn from listening to speeches either lacks sense or has a secret agenda at stake." This is one of many pearls from Johanna Hanink's fantastic translation of Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War, and it reads just as relevant today as when it was written twenty-five centuries ago. 'How to Think About War' is a collection of six speeches from Thucydides' History that cover a wide range of Ancient Greek foreign policy, among them the d "Anyone who maintains that we have nothing useful to learn from listening to speeches either lacks sense or has a secret agenda at stake." This is one of many pearls from Johanna Hanink's fantastic translation of Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War, and it reads just as relevant today as when it was written twenty-five centuries ago. 'How to Think About War' is a collection of six speeches from Thucydides' History that cover a wide range of Ancient Greek foreign policy, among them the decision to go to war, alliances, peace talks, whether or not to show mercy, changes in public opinion, the economic and emotional costs of war, and many others. The book comes with an excellent introduction that prepares readers for the text and its influence on contemporary US foreign policy—particularly Thucydides' popularity within the neoconservative moment—and each chapter opens with a brief but thorough summary that frames each passage within its historical context. I found these primers particularly interesting when reading rousing speeches for wars that ultimately ended unfavorably for the Athenians, which I imagine should give any American reader an uncomfortably sense of familiarity. The result is a philosophical text easily accessible to any reader, be they students of history, politics, philosophy, Ancient Greek (the book is bilingual), or current events. Thucydides' History also provides a provocative glimpse into human behavior just as important to know outside the classroom, as demonstrated in the headlines dominating our news every day. This text is ultimately a case study on the power of speeches on a warlike population, and if the George W. Bush administration didn't demonstrate this enough for our century, I am hopeful the present administration will make it clear to all. I most highly recommend this book and this particular edition. (I am already looking forward to reading more titles from Princeton's "Ancient Wisdom" series.) Five stars.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    I found How to Think About War more of a chore than other titles in the Ancient Wisdom series. For all I appreciate its historic importance, I found the selected speeches more dated when compared to some of the other titles in the series. Quasi-recommended.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jon

    Another very solid entry into this "Ancient Wisdom for Modern Readers" series. This one is a collection of speeches from Thucydides, newly and very readably translated by Johanna Hanink. An excellent introduction, with shorter introductions to each speech, and Greek on facing pages for those who can puzzle it out. The epigraph (from a speech by Pericles) says it all: "I fear our own mistakes more than the enemy's schemes." I've been thinking a lot about Robert F. Kennedy lately, and I remembered Another very solid entry into this "Ancient Wisdom for Modern Readers" series. This one is a collection of speeches from Thucydides, newly and very readably translated by Johanna Hanink. An excellent introduction, with shorter introductions to each speech, and Greek on facing pages for those who can puzzle it out. The epigraph (from a speech by Pericles) says it all: "I fear our own mistakes more than the enemy's schemes." I've been thinking a lot about Robert F. Kennedy lately, and I remembered that he had paraphrased Pericles's Funeral Oration in his campaign for President in 1968. He had said that the purpose of education is not to give us the skills to earn a good living; the purpose is to give us the skills to handle life's difficulties and vicissitudes with versatility and grace. Pericles had said that that was the result of just being born and raised an Athenian, but it's the same idea. Kennedy (I found on the miracle of the internet) recited it to a group of Navajos at Window Rock. A month later he quoted Aeschylus to a crowd of black people in Indianapolis, when he informed them that while they had been waiting to see him Martin Luther King had been killed. There were no cell phones, so nobody knew. (You can see this very moving impromptu speech on YouTube. ) Two months later he himself was shot and killed.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Nick

    An excellent introduction to Thucydides. I am not an expert on translation, but the translated speeches seemed ably translated. Hanink does also an excellent job providing commentary and context on each speech. This book would be particularly useful for thinkers who like to cite Thucydides and the idea of the "Thucydides Trap." In examining Thucydides closer we can see that his wisdom is not simply in foreshadowing the realist school of international relations. For example, any politician wishin An excellent introduction to Thucydides. I am not an expert on translation, but the translated speeches seemed ably translated. Hanink does also an excellent job providing commentary and context on each speech. This book would be particularly useful for thinkers who like to cite Thucydides and the idea of the "Thucydides Trap." In examining Thucydides closer we can see that his wisdom is not simply in foreshadowing the realist school of international relations. For example, any politician wishing to start an overseas war would do well to read the chapter on the disastrous Sicilian Expedition. Indeed, it is interesting to think about how the realist school of international relations plays out in the wake of bad decisions. Does a realist lens lead to these decisions, or do these decisions come about when a decision-maker loses site of realism? Those making decisions of war and peace should answer such questions, or give up the privilege of sending others to die in war.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Marie

    Oh, the chapter "On Ruthlessness" is stunning and lively! This pocket sized tome is just the thing to read in transit; English on the right side, the Greek on the left. The introduction sets the historical, social and political context. Frankly, nothing has changed since the days of Alcibiades... Four stars.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Packard Mills

    Pleasant diversion while waiting for meetings to start.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Vladimiro Sousa

    Amazing book. Powerfull and interesting introdution to Thucydides master piece!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Constantinos

  11. 4 out of 5

    Isaac

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sim

  13. 4 out of 5

    Neil Gussman

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jordan

  15. 5 out of 5

    Gonzalo Sanchez

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jason

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ozren

  18. 4 out of 5

    Keith Shively

  19. 4 out of 5

    Tony

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ace

  21. 5 out of 5

    David

  22. 5 out of 5

    Carter Lehman

  23. 5 out of 5

    ColinW

  24. 4 out of 5

    Gary

  25. 4 out of 5

    Giorgos

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey Parker

  27. 4 out of 5

    John

  28. 4 out of 5

    Gints Dreimanis

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sergii Lesniak

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ron Shaw

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