Greatest War

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?

Graham Allison: What made the Peloponnesian war “inevitable,” Thucydides tells us, “was the rise of …

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