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Publisher's Summary

Historians universally agree that Thucydides was the greatest historian who has ever lived, and that his story of the Peloponnesian conflict is a marvel of forensic science and fine literature. That such a triumph of intellectual accomplishment was created at the end of the fifth century B.C. in Greece is, perhaps, not so surprising, given the number of original geniuses we find in that period. But that such an historical work would also be simultaneously acknowledged as a work of great literature and a penetrating ethical evaluation of humanity is one of the miracles of ancient history. For in the pages of Thucydides we find examples of every ethical and political problem ever faced by democratic governments in the last 2,400 years. And it was all organized and written with a breathtaking skill and dramatic intensity which have never been equalled.

Thucydides was an Athenian noble born around 455 B.C. whose antecedents could be traced back to the great Peisitratus and Cimon. In 424 B.C., Thucydides was in command of naval forces attempting to defend Amphipolis in Thrace. Although unsuccessful through no fault of his own, his enemies in Athens blamed him for failure and engineered his exile. It was a fortunate event, for it was upon this accident of history that Thucydides gained the opportunity to become the chronicler of events in Greece. In complete contrast to the furious passions which raged around him, he described events with a cool detachment and an absolute impartiality that is little short of miraculous. He is believed to have died violently, perhaps while writing, in about 400 B.C. His manuscript simply breaks off in mid paragraph.

The Peloponnesian War is organized into eight parts (“books”). This recording uses the highly esteemed translation of Benjamin Jowett. There are several essays preceding and following the work.

Public Domain (P)2012 Audio Connoisseur

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You better know the events before listening

Would you consider the audio edition of The Peloponnesian War to be better than the print version?

No. You really need maps and an appendix. So many names are thrown around with little explanation that if your attention wavers for a second you can find yourself pretty disoriented, not knowing if the people being described are with Athens or the Pelloponesians.

What other book might you compare The Peloponnesian War to and why?

Stephen Pressfield's Tides of War is a fictionalized retelling of some of the events surrounding Alcibiades. Might be a good place to start for an entertaining listen.

What does Charlton Griffin bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

He is an excellent reader. Great pronunciation. Great dramatic flair.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No way no how.

Any additional comments?

I had to keep wikipedia opened, as well as have maps available to make sense of a lot of the events. This is not a casual listen if you are unfamiliar with the war.

16 of 16 people found this review helpful

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  • Douglas
  • Atlanta, GA, United States
  • 03-18-17

Remarkable Work of History; Difficult but Worth It

This is an amazing work of history written centuries ago. It is not easy to read, but it is worth it if you can get through it.

Unless you are very familiar with ancient Greece, this is going to be a chore to read. The many names and places are hard to keep up with. To be honest, there are going to be many names and places referenced that you won't know anything about and you just have to accept that.

The great thing is that there are several introductions to the book which help give you an idea of what's going on. I would encourage everyone to listen to all of the introductions and the afterward.

The narration is perfect. Perhaps the best narrating job I've come across on Audible.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Nothing new under the sun

A thorough history by the first historian...a narrative of strategic, operational, and tactical events in this epic war.

This is can be a daunting book for any except students of ancient Greece, but it is surprisingly clear when it comes to delivery. Charlton Griffin is one of the best...I would recommend learning something about the people and the geography before listening to this...it is easy to miss a lot of you are not familiar with the many locations discussed.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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A must read

Where does The Peloponnesian War rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Thucydides was one of the best authors of history I have ever read, but the narrative and the way he writes is not very suitable for a audiobook without having studied the ancient greeks and this book before. For 2000 years, greater minds than me have struggled with this book, I could not follow it in audio, but had to get the Landmark edition reading it instead. But I will relisten it at a later time when I have a better grip of the narrative.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Brasidas the Spartan.

Have you listened to any of Charlton Griffin’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I really enjoy all of his work. Normally I choose him if there are more than one version of the book at Audible

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The melian dialog

Any additional comments?

For me, Thucydides was to complex as a audio book. I had to get the Landmark edition Thucydides to understand and follow the narrative.

22 of 26 people found this review helpful

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don't start here

this is a classic work but I strongly recommend studying the war first or tackling other ancient histories before sinking into this one. The high level of detail can sometimes make the work hard to follow for someone not familiar with the time or genre.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Great performance of a lengthy classic.

This unabridged version of Thucydides' history is made digestible and easy-on-the-ears by the narrator. This edition also includes some essays at the beginning and end which are excellent for context.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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It works!

One knows, or should know, Thucydides. What is important here is the fact that the listening is as rewarding as the reading. The narrator, too, is exceptional for clarity of diction,

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Like a Father, True.

Any additional comments?

In college I discovered this book and have read it since, but as a frequent audiobook user (I walk in major cities) this is the most surprisingly beautiful ancient hx book read. I was a hx minor with an interest in classics and I am not a scholar, but in my humble opinion this is the most important book in HX. Save, the bible, Plato, Polybius and Herodotus.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Gary
  • Las Cruces, NM, United States
  • 09-15-18

Just as relevant to today as it was when written

‘Spartan dogs!, Turkish Taffy’, I’ve always wanted to use that line from Woody Allen’s Japanese redubbed into English movie ‘What’s Up Tiger Lilly’. Now the Spartan’s really aren’t dogs and taffy and Turkey have nothing to do with this book, but this book ranks as one of the greatest books ever written, and it’s clear that the Spartan’s were more than just laconic warriors and Athenians might have been lovers of wisdom but were also lovers of hegemonic domination.

It is not necessary to understand all the players, the interlocking rivalries or the specifics as they are brilliantly told in this war chronicle. The book takes the particular and connects them to the universal, truths across time. What is justice, what is deserving of our time or what makes the good? All this is laid out in this story telling about the war and the often fatal hubris of humans and what motivates us as human beings.

This book surprised me. I was reluctant to try it because I thought it was going to be a boring telling of war and its inner details. I was wrong. Yes, it does have actual war details but that is only a prelude in order to let the narrative allow the author to get at the universal truth of discovering our meaning of being human, and yes, even why we choose to fight and go to war. (‘Only an admiral can lose a war in a day’)!

I would bet Abraham Lincoln read this book and understood it beyond a story of just the war itself. Pericles funeral oration as dramatized in this book is clearly as moving and meaningful as the Gettysburg Address and probably influenced Lincoln’s thought on sacrificing a life for the sake of ones country, and shows that in each cohort even separated by over 2000 years of time that what we want from life and what matters has a constancy embedded within it and that we as humans are willing to give all for a belief that transcends the material. Each oration has within it the reason why humans will give the ultimate for a cause (ideology), a person (family) or their country (culture). (There are actually shades of ‘God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son in order for you to have eternal life’, within both orations. That just shows that our meaning often lies within us from the value that we place on our own self dignity or self worth).

The description of the plague in Athens in 429 B.C.E. is unlike anything I’ve read elsewhere. History is often best told by observation. Thucydides understands why it mattered and describes the particular while providing the context inside the web of moving parts which make up history and determine the future. I wonder what would have happened to world history if Athens was not devastated with a plague.

Regarding the siege of Syracuse I was totally enraptured by the unfolding of the events. As with most moderns, I had no idea who was going to win the battle and couldn’t wait to find out. The story telling was that good, no, it was better than good, it was great!

But, I haven’t even hinted at the best part of the book. The speeches and the motivations that key players use to rationalize their reasoning. Life is complex and we are easily misled by the framing of the arguments. As an objective observer because of the remoteness of time, I would listen to the first speaker give his piece and think ‘his arguments are irrefutable’, then the contra argument was made and I would think the same. Should we attack, should we not, or should we kill every single man woman and child in the defeated city in order to send a message. The same arguments are used today and politicians always love to ‘send a message’ by projecting strength so the others don’t perceive us as weak. ‘The more things change, the more they remain the same’.

‘Silence and order’ is what the sailors were told before their sea battle. That is what they were told they needed in order to survive. In life ‘silence and order’ serve us well. Two words to describe our modern day perceptions of ancient Spartans: silence and order, also ‘silence and order’ could be a two word definition for ‘stoic’. Conversely, two thoughts to describe our modern day perceptions of ancient Athenians and also serve us well for life: ‘speak and act as an individual’, also a two thought definition for ‘epicurean’.

This book transcends the story that is being told. For those who don’t like it, or think it has no relevance with today, the problem is with them not the book. This is a rare book for which I would recommend to anybody because of the truths that abound within it. This book precedes Plato’s Republic, but one can’t help feeling the echo from this book intentionally reverberating within ‘The Republic’. At least Plato’s contemporary readers would have seen the similarities within this book and would have understood the intentional connections.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Roy
  • Duvall, WA, United States
  • 11-19-16

Well read, fascinating look into ancient Greeks

Very consistent and engaging reading. Fascinating the parallels in politics to today. We can learn from their failures with oligarchies.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • AHW
  • 08-04-15

Fantastic & full! Valued added cntnt. x1.25 speed.

Great rendition, fair length (as unabridged) and enjoyed throughout. Having read the text it was fantastic, as listening gives a slightly different tack on visualising the battles / events as described. Recommend listening at x1.25 speed. Additional post analysis was good addition. Obv. purely ornamental, but enjoyed the musical interludes that punctuate the volumes greatly, and they add nicely to the athmosphere.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 09-18-18

Epic story spoilt by bizarre narration.

The startling and bizarre staccato delivery of the narrator completely spoils this epic story. At first I thought it was a computer generated voice, such is the strangeness of the style! Totally distracts from the material - I spent so much time listening to the ludicrous delivery that I missed much of the actual content.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 04-26-16

singing narrator

the annoyingly singing voice made me stop listening soon,what a shame. Will look for another version

3 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
  • A. baldwin
  • 04-13-13

helps get through the text

useful to keep focus on the text. Helped me finish the reading. pleased with purchase would recommend the purchase

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Tim Dubber
  • 05-19-16

haunting

An excellent rendition of Thucydides canonical work. highly recommended to anyone looking for a audio book rendition.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful