POLS 13181-4: Greatest War Story Ever Told

Instructor: Michael Desch

Social Science University Seminar

The Greek historian and erstwhile general Thucydides modestly claimed to have written his history of the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta in the waning years of the Fifth Century B.C. “not as an essay which is to win the applause of the moment, but as a possession for all time.” (I, 22) He succeeded with the pen (or stylus) where he failed with the sword leading generations of thinkers and practitioners to study this work with a fervor and intensity usually reserved for Holy Scripture. Indeed, Secretary of State George C. Marshall once told a Princeton graduating class that “I doubt seriously whether a man can think with full wisdom and deep convictions regarding certain of the basic international issues today who has not at least reviewed in his mind the period of the Peloponnesian Wars and the fall of Athens.” That is the purpose of this seminar.

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