The Spartan Regime Its Character, Origins, and Grand Strategy Paul Anthony Rahe

Yale Library of Military History
Publication date:
22 Nov 2016
Yale University Press
232 pages: 235 x 156 x 22mm
7 b-w illus.
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An authoritative and refreshingly original consideration of the government and culture of ancient Sparta and her place in Greek history

For centuries, ancient Sparta has been glorified in song, fiction, and popular art. Yet the true nature of a civilization described as a combination of democracy and oligarchy by Aristotle, considered an ideal of liberty in the ages of Machiavelli and Rousseau, and viewed as a forerunner of the modern totalitarian state by many twentieth-century scholars has long remained a mystery. In a bold new approach to historical study, noted historian Paul Rahe attempts to unravel the Spartan riddle by deploying the regime-oriented political science of the ancient Greeks, pioneered by Herodotus, Thucydides, Plato, Xenophon, and Polybius, in order to provide a more coherent picture of government, art, culture, and daily life in Lacedaemon than has previously appeared in print, and to explore the grand strategy the Spartans devised before the arrival of the Persians in the Aegean.

Paul A. Rahe is a Rhodes Scholar and the Charles O. Lee and Louise K. Lee Professor of History at Hillsdale College, and the author of numerous books including the three-volume Republics Ancient and Modern. He lives in Hillsdale, MI.

"Persuasive."—Thomas E. Ricks, New York Times Book Review

"A superb account."—Dominic Green, Minerva

"Paul Rahe continues his monumental history of ancient Sparta, by explaining why and how Sparta’s early strategic role in the Greek world was inseparable from the uniqueness of its origins and values. An insightful and sympathetic view of Sparta, one that could only be written by a masterful historian and classicist with Rahe’s singular knowledge of political philosophy, ancient and modern."—Victor Davis Hanson, The Hoover Institution, author of The Other Greeks

"Paul Rahe toils boldly at the intersection of political and diplomatic history, military history, and political theory. He has always been one of a kind, and this highly original book will cement his reputation as such. Who else has treated Spartan policy with the seriousness that he shows that it deserves? Nobody."—Clifford Orwin, Professor of Political Science, University of Toronto, and Senior Fellow, Berlin Thucydides Center