For almost three decades at the end of the fifth century B.C., Athens and Sparta fought a war that changed the Greek world and its civilization forever. A conflict unprecedented in its brutality, the Peloponnesian War brought a collapse in the institutions, beliefs, and customs that were the foundations of society. Today, scholars in fields ranging from international relations and political and military history to political philosophy continue to study the war for its timeless relevance to the history of our own time. Now Donald Kagan, classical scholar and historian of international relations, ancient and modern, presents a sweeping new narrative of this epic contest that captures all its drama, action, and tragedy. In describing the rise and fall of a great empire he examines the clash between two disparate societies, the interplay of intelligence and chance in human affairs, the role of great human beings in determining the course of events, and the challenge of leadership and the limits in which it must operate. The result is an engrossing, fresh perspective on a key historical event that will be welcomed by general readers and history buffs alike-and anyone seeking a better understanding of the pivotal events that shaped the world as we know it.