The Greek historian Thucydides defined the form of history as it is still written today. His History of the Peloponnesian War remains a hugely influential work. We spoke with two leading admirers of Thucydides — Harvard professor Graham Allison, author of Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap?, and bestselling historian and classicist Tom Holland — who give radically opposed views of what the book can illuminate in today’s strategic landscape.
Octavian Report: Can you lay out, in thumbnail, the structure of hegemonic contests Thucydides outlines and why you see it as an apt model for U.S.-China relations?
Tom Holland is a historian of antiquity and the early Middle Ages: author of Dynasty, Rubicon, Persian Fire, Millennium and In The Shadow Of The Sword. Graham Allison is Douglas Dillon Professor of Government, Harvard University and the author of Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap?