The Peloponnesian War, the epic struggle between Athens and Sparta, occupies a vital part in military history because of the enormous military and political changes it inspired. In this brilliant book, Sir Nigel Bagnall sets out to analyze and clarify the war, describing in compelling detail the events that led up to it. His meticulous attention to historical context offers a refreshing contrast to traditional accounts. The conflict lasted from 431 to 404 B.C., until the confederation led by Sparta finally conquered Athens and her allies. Bagnall dissects the complex relationship between the two states and closely studies their political conduct in the run-up to war, offering a riveting account of the strategy and tactics involved. He also outlines its innovations and lessons, which would have enormous military repercussions for future generations. These include the importance of having clear politico-strategic objectives, the interplay of maritime and land operations, and the problems of achieving cohesion in an alliance in which all the participants see themselves as fellow citizens.