CRISIS AND LEVIATHAN: Critical Episodes in the Growth of American Government
Crisis and Leviathan is a book of major importance, thoroughly researched, closely argued, and meticulously documented. It should be high on the reading list of every serious student of the American political system.
Crisis and Leviathan is an important, powerful, and profoundly disturbing book.
By focusing on certain critical episodes in American history, Robert Higgs has documented the remarkable and alarming growth of Big Government. His ambitious work covers the subject in great detail and in a way that will appeal to both scholars and a more general audience. . . . The conclusion of Higgss analysis is a thoughtful but disturbing view of American prospects. Whether traditional constitutional restraints or the unique operation of a mixed economy can avert what he and others fear as a march into socialism or fascism no one knows. As we consider the future, Higgs offers enlightenment if not optimism.
Insightful, compelling, and clear, Higgs breaks new ground in explicating the most important socio-political trend of our timethe growth of American government.
What is most exciting and intriguing about CRISIS AND LEVIATHAN is that Higgs is now working within the tradition of economic history exemplified by Schumpeter and Polanyi. Like them, and unlike the new economic historians, Higgs refuses to treat political, cultural, or ideological aspects of historical reality as irrelevant to the study of economic development.
CRISIS AND LEVIATHAN is a thoughtful and challenging work.
How big government gets that way: It takes over new turf in time of crisis, then hangs on to much of it after the crisis is over.
That big government grew from crises is not a new idea, but just how that happened is an astounding story, and the superb account that Higgs gives of that process may come as something of a shock to his readers.
CRISIS AND LEVIATHAN is a blockbuster of a book, one of the most important of the last decade. It is that wondrous and rare combination: scholarly and hard-hitting, lucid and libertarian as well.
Robert Higgs is a first-rate economist and economic historian who sets out a provocative thesisnamely, that governments exploit crises (real and fabricated) as excuses to grow and to strip people of their wealth and liberties. In CRISIS AND LEVIATHAN, Higgs skillfully and carefully tests this thesis against history. The thesis stands. Governments do indeed exploit crises as opportunities to confiscate ever-greater powers. After each crisis, the amount of power recently added to governments stock might shrink somewhat, but very seldom back to what it was prior to the crisis. This is one of the most important and compelling books published during the 1980s.
I can think of no more important reading than CRISIS AND LEVIATHAN, aside from the Constitution itself.
I just read CRISIS AND LEVIATHAN. Wonderful work! I will try to stem the tide of emergency on Capitol Hill with your inspiration!
The most masterful and persuasive treatment of the role of war in making big government bigger and liberty less secure is Robert Higgss book, CRISIS AND LEVIATHAN: Critical Episodes in the Growth of American Government. Times of crisis, including economic depressions but mainly wars, give governments license to invoke numerous emergency powers. After the crisis or war is over government power recedes somewhat, but never to its previous, more limited size or scope.