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Crisis and Leviathan

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(25th Anniversary Edition) Critical Episodes in the Growth of American Government
Everyone knows that the U.S. government has grown in size, scope, and power during the past century, but how did this breathtaking transformation come about? Crisis and Leviathan offers a coherent, multi-causal explanation, guided by a novel analytical framework firmly grounded in historical evidence.
Price: $19.95


This seminal treatise in the history of ideas demonstrates what has come to be known as the Higgs thesis: that government grows in periods of crisis, for example, war and depression. He demonstrates this with a detailed look at twentieth century economic history.

Higgs's thesis is so compelling that it has become the dominant paradigm for understanding the so-called ratchet effect: government grows during crisis and then retrenches afterwards, but not to the same level as before.

This book is absolutely essential for anyone who seeks to understand the dynamics of government growth and the loss of liberty. The contents of this volume include:

Crisis and Leviathan is a blockbuster of a book, one of the most important of the last decade. It is that rare and wondrous combination: scholarly and hard-hitting, lucidly written and libertarian as well. “
—Murray N. Rothbard, late S.J. Hall Distinguished Professor of Economics, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

“Insightful, compelling, and clear, Higgs breaks new ground in explicating the most important socio-political trend of our time—the growth of American government.”
—The Freeman


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  • Part I. Framework
    • 1. The Sources of Big Government: A Critical Survey of Hypotheses
    • 2. How Much Has the Government Grown? Conventional Measures and an Alternative View
    • 3. On Ideology as an Analytical Concept in the Study of Political Economy
    • 4. Crisis, Bigger Government, and Ideological Change: Toward an Understanding of the Ratchet

  • Part II. History
    • 5. Crisis Under the Old Regime, 1893-1896
    • 6. The Progressive Era: A Bridge to Modern Times
    • 7. The Political Economy of War, 1916-1918
    • 8. The Great Depression: "An Emergency More Serious than War"
    • 9. The Political Economy of War, 1940-1945
    • 10. Crisis and Leviathan: From World War II to the 1980s
    • 11. Retrospect and Prospect
  • ISBN 978019505900
    UPC 019505900X
    Publisher Oxford University Press
    Publication Date 1989
    Binding PB
    Page Length 384
    Dimensions 6" x 9"

    Nothing is so dangerous to liberty as the power to make war, argues this remarkable collection of essays. There can be no reconciling freedom and empi...
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