Crisis and Leviathan: Critical Episodes in the Growth of American Government
Few topics are as timely as the growth of government. To understand why government has grown, Robert Higgs asserts, one must understand how it has grown. This book offers a coherent, multi-causal explanation, guided by a novel analytical framework firmly grounded in historical evidence.
More than a study of trends in governmental spending, taxation, and employment, Crisis and Leviathan is a thorough analysis of the actual occasions when and the specific means by which Big Government developed in the United States. Naming names and highlighting the actions of significant individuals, Higgs examines how twentieth-century national emergencies--mainly wars, depressions, and labor disturbances--have prompted federal officials to take over previously private rights and activities. When the crises passed, a residue of new governmental powers remained. Even more significantly, each great crisis and the subsequent governmental measures have gone hand in hand with reinforcing shifts in public beliefs and attitudes toward the government's proper role in American life.
Integrating the contributions of scholars in diverse disciplines, including history, law, political philosophy, and the social sciences, Crisis and Leviathan makes compelling reading for all those who seek to understand the transformation of America's political economy over the past century.