Thucydides on Strategy

Grand Strategies in the Peloponnesian War and Their Relevance Today

Edited by


Masterfully crafted and surprisingly modern, History of the Peloponnesian War has long been celebrated as an insightful, eloquent, and exhaustively detailed work of classical Greek history. The text is also remarkable for its deep political and military dimensions, and scholars have begun to place the work alongside Sun Tzu’s The Art of War and Clausewitz’s On War as one of the great treatises on strategy. The perfect companion to Thucydides’ impressive History, this volume details the specific strategic concepts at work within the History of the Peloponnesian War and demonstrates, through case studies of recent conflicts in Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq, the continuing relevance of Thucydidean thought to an analysis and planning of strategic operations. Some have even credited Thucydides with founding the discipline of international relations. Written by two scholars with extensive experience in this and related fields, Thucydides on Strategy situates the classical historian solidly in the modern world of war.


‘I read Thucydides on Strategy with considerable interest, pleasure, and care. – The authors have made an original contribution to scholarship … and have managed to synthesise a coherent whole that goes far to explain how Athens lost and the Peloponnesians won this war. In the course of doing this, they also manage to explain why Thucydides’ work is a ” for all time”. They show that the same sorts of strategic questions and problems are likely to recur, again and again, as Thucydides says, so long as human nature remains the same, e.g., defining political objectives, matching a grand strategy to meet them, integrating a military strategy with the grand strategy, interacting with an enemy, avoiding overextension, and a whole range of other themes commonly studied by strategists today.’ –– Karl Walling, Professor, Department of Policy and Strategy, United States Naval War College

‘an excellent companion to the History, and an aid to the essential reflection that Thucydides’s work requires.’ — Lieutenant General Sir John Kiszely

Thucydides on Strategy provides a conclusive rebuttal to those who suspect modern strategists are guilty of anachronism when they claim that the classical world thought and acted strategically. Athanassioss G. Platias and Constantinos Koliopoulos demonstrate convincingly why Thucydides belongs in a lonely triumvirate with Carl von Clausewitz and Sun Tzu as the truly essential authors of a general strategic theory both universally and eternally valid. The wisdom in this splendid book could save our current politics from many follies. If only our politicians, civil servants, and soldiers took the time to read and understand it.’ — Colin S. Gray, University of Reading


Constantinos Koliopoulos is Lecturer in International Politics, Panteion University of Political and Social Sciences, Athens.

Athanassios Platias is Professor of Strategy at the Department of International and European Studies, University of Piraeus.

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