The entire Greek world plunged into three decades of bloodshed in 431 B.C., when the ongoing friction between Athens and Sparta exploded into war. Ten years into the struggle, the Athenian general Thucydides was dismissed for a military failure that led to a triumph for posterity: the former general retired to write an account of the war, resulting in one of the world's great history books. Thucydides' chronicle of the disastrous 27-year conflict between the Greek city-states resonates with tales of heroism and villainy, deeds of courage and desperation, and the eternal folly of human nature. As an insightful amateur historian, he traces the war's roots to prior hostilities between Greece and Persia and examines the relative merits of the Athenian League and the Spartan alliance. Scrupulously impartial and accurate, Thucydides presents detailed, knowledgeable analyses of battles in addition to dialogues reflecting the political atmosphere. This ancient tale of the rise and fall of a democratic empire remains enduringly relevant to modern times.