Taxing Wars: The American Way of War Finance and the Decline of Democracy


Product Details

Oxford University Press, USA
Publish Date
6.4 X 1.2 X 9.4 inches | 1.2 pounds
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About the Author

Sarah Kreps is Associate Professor of Government and Adjunct Professor of Law at Cornell University. Kreps is the author of numerous books and academic articles on the topics of international security, in particular alliance politics, military technology, and the political economy of security. Shehas a B.A. from Harvard University, M.Sc. from Oxford University, and PhD from Georgetown University. Kreps previously served in the United States Air Force and is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations.


"This is an excellent book - well-written, carefully researched, and with a clear message: that America's move away from war taxes to finance its wars through debt has shrouded the costs of these conflicts. The consequence is public apathy, diminished democratic accountability, and longer, costlier wars. TAXING WARS will appeal to political scientists and economic historians, but also to a general audience interested in ongoing policy debates about guns-butter tradeoffs and how they are addressed in our democracy." - Joseph Stiglitz, Professor of Economics, Columbia University, and the recipient of both the John Bates Clark Medal and the Nobel prize in Economics

"How do democracies pay for wars of choice? In this illuminating study, Sarah Kreps explains why modern democracies now finance wars by borrowing money instead of raising taxes. Eschewing taxes obscures the true cost of these wars, shifts the burden onto future generations, and helps pro-war leaders evade full accountability. Based on careful case studies and rigorous survey evidence, the book is exemplary social science with a powerful message: when publics do not feel the immediate costs of war, unnecessary wars will be harder to prevent and more difficult to end." - Stephen M. Walt, Robert and Renee Belfer Professor of International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

"American wars are paid in blood and treasure, and most accounts focus on the human costs. Sarah Kreps' landmark work examines the other side of the coin: the financial costs of war, and the shift from taxation to borrowing as a means of paying them. Kreps' examiniation of this trend, and the political implications that flow from it, is a must-read for all those concerned with war, peace, and democracy." - Richard Fontaine, Center for New American Security

"The third book that upset one of my mental apple carts is Taxing Wars: The American Way of War Finance and the Decline of Democracy by Sarah Kreps (Oxford, 2018). Kreps shows that we used to pay for war by raising taxes, but now we add on debt and pass the bucks to future generations. That, plus technologically decreased casualty rates, may make it too easy for us to intervene in places where we may make things worse." - WORLD

"THE AMERICAN MILITARY: A Concise History carries precisely the right title. In just 127 small pages of text, Glatthaar, a historian at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, gallops through American military history from the French and Indian War all the way to Iraq and Afghanistan. Impressively, he manages to provide a lot more than battle histories, deftly delving into technological advances, social changes and political contexts. Anyone looking for a place to begin understanding the military history of our country would do well to start here." - THE NEW YORK TIMES