The Landmark Thucydides: A Comprehensive Guide to the Peloponnesian War, ed., R. Strassler, trans., E. Crawley, intro., V. D. Hanson. New York: Free Press, 1998.
Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War is one of the great books in the Western tradition, as well as its first true historical narrative. Editor Robert Strassler has annotated this classic text to make it more accessible to modern readers and added dozens of maps for easy reference. A helpful introduction places Thucydides in proper historical context and a series of short appendices focus on particular aspects of life and war during the period. But the bulk of the book itself, where Thucydides chronicles the long struggle between Athens and Sparta, enjoys an unexpected freshness on these pages–partly due to Strassler’s magnificent editorial labors, but mostly because it’s a great story resonant with heroes, villains, bravery, desperation, and tragedy. Every library should have a copy of Thucydides in it, especially libraries on military history, and The Landmark Thucydides is without question the best version available.