Proxy wars like those in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and now Ukraine have played major roles in military history. Historian Paul Rahe takes us back to one of the earliest yet most influential proxy wars in the West: Athens’ invasions of Spartan-backed Sicily. Here, he discusses his most recent book, Sparta’s Sicilian Proxy War (Encounter Books, 2023), the fifth in his series “The Grand Strategy of Classical Sparta.” Along the way, he explores the structure of ancient Sparta as compared with Athens and with modern America, and what lessons proxy wars in the ancient world can teach us about modern conflicts.

Paul A. Rahe is the Charles O. Lee and Louise K. Lee Chair in the Western Heritage at Hillsdale College, and Professor of History. In addition to his series The Grand Strategy of Classical Sparta, his books include Republics Ancient and Modern: Classical Republicanism and the American RevolutionAgainst Throne and Altar: Machiavelli and Political Theory under the English Republic, and Soft Despotism, Democracy’s Drift: Montesquieu, Rousseau, Tocqueville and the Modern Prospect.

Annika Nordquist is the Communications Coordinator of Princeton University’s James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions and host of the Program’s podcast, Madison’s Notes.

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