The Landmark Thucydides: A Comprehensive Guide to the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides, Robert B. Strassler (ed.)
As noted earlier today by Crispin at Wings over Iraq, Dan Drezner has written one of his better posts:
3) You will recognize some recurrent patterns in history. Thucydides will help one develop a better appreciation for life in 5th century BC, but it will really help one develop an appreciation for the aspects of human nature that are unchanged through time.
For exhibit A, consider this recent Kindred Winecoff post with respect to American soldiers, war crimes, and nativism. The relevant section…
Agreed. Human nature has not changed much since 400 BC nor has politics become more nuanced than in the days of the polis. I am also dubious that America, or most nations, for that matter, have produced leaders recently who were of the caliber of Pericles or Lysander. On the other hand, Nicias, Alcibiades, Hyperbolus, Critias and various bumbling Spartan Navarchs, the world appears to enjoy in spades.
It is often said that history is philosophy from examples, but in Thucydides, history is also strategy from examples. I agree with Professor Drezner that Thucydides belongs on the shortlist of books military officers should read; I’d feel a lot better when the next international crisis erupted, if our politicians read him too. If our elected officials could at least internalize “honor, fear and interest”, it would make our foreign policy debates markedly less stupid and public expectations of policy more realistic.