Victor Davis Hanson has written or edited numerous books, including The Western Way of War, The Wars of the Ancient Greeks, The Soul of Battle, Carnage and Culture, and Ripples of Battle. He is also the author of two bestselling collections of essays: An Autumn of War and Between War and Peace. He is director emeritus of the classics program at California State University, Fresno, and currently a classicist and military historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He has been a National Endowment for the Humanities fellow, a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, an Onassis fellow in Greece, Shifrin Professor at the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, and a recipient of the Eric Brendel Memorial Award for journalism. He lives and works with his wife and three children on their forty-acre tree and vine farm near Selma, California, where he was born in 1953.
Hanson (Warfare and Agriculture in Classical Greece, etc.) presents an elegant, lucidly written analysis of the 27-year war, a "colossal absurdity," that ended in Athens's 5th-century B.C. loss to Sparta and the depletion of centuries of material and intellectual wealth. Hanson deftly chronicles these destructive decades, from the conflict's roots (e.g., the fundamental mutual suspicion between Athens and Sparta) to its legacy (the evolution of the nature of war to something "more deadly, amorphous, and concerned with the ends rather than the ethical means"). Hanson considers the war's economic aspects and the ruinous plague that struck Athens before delving into his discussion of warfare. He offers a tour de force analysis of hoplite (or infantry) combat, guerrilla tactics, siege operations and sea battles in the Aegean. Though landlocked Sparta ultimately brought down Athens's once-great naval fleet and replaced democracy with oligarchy by 404 B.C., Hanson complicates the received notion of a lost Hellenic Golden Age. Throughout this trenchant military and cultural history, he draws parallels between the Peloponnesian War and modern-day conflicts from WWII to the Cold War and Vietnam. Across the centuries, these are lessons worth remembering. (Oct.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
"The age of Pericles was also a time of famine, pestilence and
atrocity: a 'Thirty Year Slaughter.' In order to understand the
lesson this offers for civilization, one must try to feel it as the
Greeks felt it, and reflect it as they did. In this dual task,
Victor Davis Hanson once again demonstrates that his qualifications
-Christopher Hitchens, author of Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays
"This book will immediately become the standard companion volume
in English to Thucydides' Peloponnesian Wars. Its own battle
narratives are unexcelled; but its singular merit is its
comprehensive and detailed description of how the actual fighting
was done, how generals led, and why each side-Sparta and
Athens-went to war. The author is a man of action and a practicing
farmer as well as the premier classical historian and military
commentator of our day."
-Josiah Bunting III, author of Ulysses S. Grant
"The Peloponnesian War was grand and tragic but the sheer misery of those who experienced it has often been overlooked-until now. From death by trampling to cannibalism, from preteen-sized knights on ponies to deformed and ghostly plague survivors, from elegant galleys to bloodbaths in waterlogged death traps, the dark cones of classical combat are all brought to light by Hanson. This is a groundbreaking book by a great historian."
-Barry Strauss, author of The Battle of Salamis: The Naval Encounter That Saved Greece-and Western Civilization