I.F. Stone, the left-wing journalist and castigator of what he considers the repressive nature of modern American democracy, has for many years been fascinated by the ancient Greeks. He taught himself classical Greek with considerable success and acquired a broad if erratic knowledge of the classical literature. As a former classicist who tries to maintain at least a nodding familiarity with the directions of scholarship on the central questions of Greek and Roman history, I welcome Stone’s latest book as evidence that there are still some people outside the academy who regard the great issues of classical civilization as being relevant to us. Unfortunately, it also seems to me that Stone is wrong: wrong about Socrates, wrong about Athenian democracy, and wrong about what kind of democracy is best.

Stone wrote his book to answer the following question: Did the Athenians have just cause for...


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