Strauss, Barry S.
Strauss, Barry S.
CAREER: Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, professor of history and classics, 1981–, director of peace-studies program. Visiting professor of classics, Princeton University, 1998–99. Commentator for Troy, History Channel, 2004, and for Discovery Channel, British Broadcasting Corporation, Arts & Entertainment Network, and Public Broadcasting System.
AWARDS, HONORS: Heinrich Schliemann fellowship, American School of Classical Studies; National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship; Killiam Foundation fellowship; Clark Award for excellence in teaching, Cornell University; Best Book designation, Washington Post, 2004, for The Battle of Salamis: The Naval Encounter That Saved Greece—and Western Civilization.
Athens after the Peloponnesian War: Class, Faction, and Policy, 403-386 BC, Cornell University Press (Ithaca, NY), 1986.
(With Josiah Ober) The Anatomy of Error: Ancient Military Disasters and Their Lessons for Modern Strategists, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1990.
(With Richard Ned Lebow) Hegemonic Rivalry: From Thucydides to the Nuclear Age, Westview Press (Boulder, CO), 1991.
(As Barry Strauss) Rowing against the Current: On Learning to Scull at Forty (memoir), Scribner (New York, NY), 1999.
(Editor with David R. McCann) War and Democracy: A Comparative Study of the Korean War and the Peloponnesian War, M. E. Sharpe (Armonk, NY), 2001.
(As Barry Strauss) The Battle of Salamis: The Naval Encounter That Saved Greece—and Western Civilization, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2004.
Contributor to periodicals, including History Today, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, and Newsday.
SIDELIGHTS: The ancient Greek writers Barry S. Strauss studies suggest that history is cyclical and bound to repeat itself. While Strauss may not agree completely with that assessment, he has written and edited books that compare and contrast ancient military conflicts with modern-day wars. Strauss is a specialist on the Peloponnesian War and other military engagements of the ancient Mediterranean, and his studies of the period between 500-300 BCE have resulted in several books on politics, strategic battles, and ancient democracy.
Strauss served as coeditor of War and Democracy: A Comparative Study of the Korean War and the Peloponnesian War. As its title implies, the collection contains fifteen essays that variously examine and contrast the ancient Grecian war and the more modern, shorter, Korean War. The volume's contributing scholars discuss the ways in which democratic ideals shaped each conflict and the ways in which alliances shaped the outcome of the wars. "Specialists, especially classicists, … will find much of interest in the individual essays," noted Stewart Flory in the Journal of Military History. In the Journal of Asian Studies, Soon Won Park wrote that the book "expands the horizon of the Korean War studies beyond the previous chicken-and-egg kind of controversy" and presents "a thought-provoking, reflective work on a very significant and recurring issue of twentieth-century world history."
The Battle of Salamis: The Naval Encounter That Saved Greece—and Western Civilization is intended for a general audience that includes young adults. In easily understood prose, Strauss describes the ancient battle that took place between the Athenians and the Persians in 480 BCE. The author relies on ancient historical accounts as well as upon modern knowledge of sleep deprivation and how maritime currents affect oar-driven ships. Boston Globe reviewer Michael Kenney felt that in Strauss's hands, the tale of the battle becomes "a military epic of the first order." Gilbert Taylor in Booklist concluded that the author "creates for a popular readership both an intriguing and an explanatory narrative," while in Sea Power reviewer David W. Munns observed that The Battle of Salamis "is not only a great book," but also "a cleverly molded history lesson."
Never an athlete by inclination, Strauss took up rowing at the age of forty and now enjoys competitive sculling. His book Rowing against the Current: On Learning to Scull at Forty is a humorous but thoughtful memoir on the joys of rowing, of learning from failure as well as success, and of finding new challenges at mid-life. Dane Carr, writing in Booklist, recommended the work "to anyone with the least bit of interest in the topic and to midlifers seeking exercise inspiration." According to William O. Scheeren in Library Journal, Rowing against the Current is "a good read and one that can be enjoyed with profit by a wide range of readers."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Strauss, Barry, Rowing against the Current: On Learning to Scull at Forty, Scribner (New York, NY), 1999.
Booklist, March 15, 1999, Dane Carr, review of Rowing against the Current, p. 1284; June 1-15, 2004, Gilbert Taylor, review of The Battle of Salamis: The Naval Encounter That Saved Greece—and Western Civilization, p. 1691.
Boston Globe, August 17, 2004, Michael Kenney, "Historian Breathes Life into an Ancient Battle," review of The Battle of Salamis, p. E3.
Journal of Asian Studies, February, 2003, Soon Won Park, review of War and Democracy: A Comparative Study of the Korean War and the Peloponnesian War, p. 301.
Journal of Comparative Family Studies, spring, 1997, Elaine Porter, review of Fathers and Sons in Athens: Ideology and Society in the Era of the Peloponnesian War, p. 165.
Journal of Military History, January, 2002, Stewart Flory, review of War and Democracy, p. 262.
Library Journal, February 15, 1999, William O. Scheeren, review of Rowing against the Current, p. 159.
Naval War College Review, summer, 2002, Karl Walling, review of War and Democracy, p. 166.
School Library Journal, January, 2005, Kathy Tewell, review of The Battle of Salamis, p. 161.
Sea Power, September, 2004, David W. Munns, review of The Battle of Salamis, p. 48.
Barry Strauss Home Page, http://www.barrystrauss.com (February 28, 2005).
Cornell Chronicle Online, http://www.news.cornell.edu/ (July 9, 1998), Paul Cody, "Classicist and Historian Studies That Elusive Thing Called Peace."
Row2K.com, http://www.row2k.com/ (February 28, 2005), interview with Strauss.