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How to Think about War

An Ancient Guide to Foreign Policy

Thucydides Johanna Hanink Johanna Hanink



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Princeton University Pres
05 February 2019
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 behaviour 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.' Organised 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.

'[An] innovative translation...

With How to Think about War, students...see key speeches set chronologically and in contrast to one another, avoiding an entirely one-dimensional takeaway...

Hanink's translation provides a worthwhile addition to the ongoing dialogue inspired by Thucydides.' - MAJ Kerney M. Perlik, US Army War College Quarterly
Introduction by:  
Translated by:  
Imprint:   Princeton University Pres
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 171mm,  Width: 114mm, 
ISBN:   9780691190150
ISBN 10:   0691190151
Series:   Ancient Wisdom for Modern Readers
Pages:   336
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  Professional and scholarly ,  General/trade ,  ELT Advanced ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Johanna Hanink is associate professor of classics at Brown University. Her books include The Classical Debt: Greek Antiquity in an Era of Austerity. She lives in Rhode Island. Twitter @johannahan

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

This invaluable collection presents the most vivid, thought-provoking, and important speeches from Thucydides's work, which have inspired the analysis of politics, war, and international relations ever since. Johanna Hanink's new translation makes them fully accessible to a modern audience, and her excellent notes both set them in their ancient context and draw out their significance for modern debates. -Neville Morley, author of Classics: Why It Matters Hanink's accessible translation and commentary cut an easy path through the dense Greek of the famous speeches in Thucydides's History, avoiding the snare of reading them at face value. The result is a compelling illustration of the danger of using Thucydides to defend contemporary political decisions. -Donna Zuckerberg, author of Not All Dead White Men: Classics and Misogyny in the Digital Age This slim, elegant book punches well above its weight, with striking, lucid translations of key speeches from Thucydides's History of the Peloponnesian War. The artfully curated ancient texts within these pages speak with prescience and complexity to the precarious moment in which we now live. Johanna Hanink's How to Think about War is essential reading for anyone who wishes to know how great military powers fall, democracies implode, and empires end. -Bryan Doerries, author of The Theater of War: What Ancient Greek Tragedies Can Teach Us Today

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