Synopses & Reviews
This powerful interpretation of English history provides a completely new framework for understanding how Britain emerged in the eighteenth century as a major international power.
John Brewer's brilliant analysis makes clear that the drastic increase in Britain's military involvement (and success) in Europe and the expansion of her commercial and imperial interests would not have happened without a concurrent radical increase in taxation, along with a surge in deficit financing and the growth of a substantial public administration. Warfare and taxes reshaped the English economy, and at the heart of these dramatic changes lay an issue that is still very much with us today: the tension between a nation's aspirations to be a major power and fear of the domestic consequences of such an ambition--namely, the loss of liberty.
Brewer poses another question of great importance...how did a small island, of no great population, and which had, for the most part, played an insignificant role in seventeenth-century Europe, transform itself, in the space of sixty years, into a great naval power with an immense empire? Brewer is to be congratulated [on] here identifying a major theme and pursuing it with great skill. John Cannon
What Brewer does is to link the work of other historians with his own research into the workings of the bureaucratic machine, and to draw some wider conclusions about the nature of British society in general. Times Literary Supplement
Brewer has countered the traditional image of Britain as a lightly administered society by showing the degree to which the ideology of liberty was founded on a highly organized bureaucracy. Jonathan Clark - Sunday Times
John Brewer provides a new framework for understanding Britain's emergence in the eighteenth century as a major international power. Warfare and taxes reshaped the English economy, but at the heart of these dramatic changes lay a tension between the nation's aspirations to be a major power and fear of the domestic consequences: the loss of liberty.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
About the Author
John Brewer is Director of the Center for Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century Studies and Director of the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library at the University of California at Los Angeles.
Table of Contents
List of Tables and Figures
1. Before the Revolution:
The English State in the Medieval and Early Modern Eras
2. Patterns of Military Effort
3. Civil Administration: The Central Offices of Government
4. Money, Money, Money: The Growth in Debts and Taxes
5. The Paradoxes of State Power
6. The Parameters of War
7. War and Taxes
8. The Politics of Information: Public Knowledge and Private Interest