- Paperback: 450 pages
- Publisher: Transaction Publishers; 2 edition (November 30, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0765804875
- ISBN-13: 978-0765804877
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.3 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 15 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #676,083 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Costs of War: America's Pyrrhic Victories 2nd Edition
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"The Costs of War... ranks among the best collection of articles ever assembled on the history of United States wars that built the state, shredded the Constitution, and raised up an empire."—Free Market
“[C]ontains a number of well-written and well-argued essays that address various aspects of a crucially important but currently neglected subject for libertarians.”—Mark Brady, Liberty
“[An] insightful and provocative collection of essays.”—Dwight D. Murphey, Conservative Review
“The Costs of War is easily one of the most important books to emerge from American conservatives in a generation.”—Thomas E. Woods, Jr., Modern Age
“The Costs of War offers a devastating critique of Washington’s interventionist tendencies.”—Doug Bandow, World
“This book is the most convincing attack on the warmongering state to appear since the end of the Second World War.”—Gerard Radnitzky, University of Trier
About the Author
John V. Denson is a partner in the law firm of Samford, Denson, Horsley, Pettey & Martin, vice chairman of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, and a trustee of Auburn University in Alabama.
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Like two other books that grew out of conferences hosted by the Mises Institute -- "Secession, State, and Liberty" (1998) and "Reassessing the Presidency" (2001) -- these essays are uniformly challenging, thought-provoking, and unashamedly "revisionist" ... which is to say, they question the accepted thinking of both liberal and conservative received wisdom. While all twenty contributions are worthwhile, I personally found three of them particularly rewarding: Joseph Stromberg's piece on the Spanish-American War and two essays by Ralph Raico, "World War I: The Turning Point" and "Rethinking Churchill." As a long-time student of Winston Churchill, I particularly recommend the latter. Far more than other so-called revisionists like Irving or Charmley, Raico's piece in "The Costs of War" raises questions that any intellectually-honest student or fan of WSC absolutely must confront.
Though I found those three essays particularly good, it's hard not to single out others as well. Murray Rothbard's two essays -- his important "America's Two Just Wars" and a reprint of his classic "World War I as Fulfillment" -- are, of course, up to the author's always-high standards. Justin Raimondo's chapter on the history of the anti-war Right highlights a theme he's been emphasizing again in recent months. As a former navy dependent, I was fascinated by Allan Carlson's survey of "The Military as an Engine of Social Change." And this weekend, it was more than a little surreal to look up from Eugene Sledge's memoirs of his World War II combat service, or Paul Fussell's meditation on "The Culture of War," to see the new Iraq war unfolding in real-time on my television.
Each of these essays gives the reader much to think about. But there's another thing I should warn about. As with the two other books I mentioned before, this title points the reader to many, many other books worth hunting down and reading. Mises Institute authors tend (to their credit) to love their footnotes, and I would bet reading "The Costs of War" has revealed at least three dozen more books on related topics I'll need to add to my must-find-time-to-read list.
Unabashedly pro-freedom, this book will open the reader's eyes to elements of history and political science she may well never have confronted before. And even if you already are a confirmed member of the Mises-Rothbard school of thought, the ideas, arguments, and points of scholarship contained here will stretch your intellectual muscles and arm you for future study and debate. In our time of war, as well as in what passes for "peace" these days, I recommend this title very, very highly.
Denson's introductory essay is worth reading. This essay gives the reader a glimpse of the book's theme, and his essay is a good introduction to the rise of militarism in the United States since 1860. Denson's introduction presents the reader with a cause-and effect relationship between war and the erosion of rights.
The essays that examine the Civil War, especially Murray Rothbard's essay, gives a view of the Civil War that reveals that actual origins of this tragedy as opposed to the childish convention that somehow the Civil War began over the issue of slavery. Readers should note that Gen. "Stonewall" Jackson was opposed to slavery. Gen. Robert E. Lee emancipated his slaves. On the other hand, Gen. Grant had to free his slaves to take command of the Army of the Potomac. Gen. Sherman of the Union also owned slaves. As some of the essays clearly state, Pres. Lincoln antagonized the Southerners with manacing military actions especially on Virginia's border which resulted in the Virginians joining the Confederacy.
The essays dealing with World War I and World War II should be of particular interest to those not familiar with actual the origins of these wars. Textbook writers give the false impression that Pres. Wilson and U.S. authorities were neutral prior to April 6, 1917 when members of the U.S. Congress voted to declare on the Germans and their allies. The facts were that American bankers and powerful political fugures had given money and resources to the British and French espcially after 1915. Pres. Wilson had U.S. supply vessels sail into war zones to assist the British and French and to deliberately antagonize the Germans into provocation.
Murray Rothbard's essay regarding World War I is instructive. He chides Walter Lippmann for being a ferocious advocate of U.S. entry into World War I as well as a proponent of military conscription (slavery). Yet, when Mr. Lippmann realized that he was of draft age and in good health, he used his connections with Felix Frankfurter to avoid having to face angry gunfire. Lippmann's excuse was that he wanted to help shape the post World War I United States in line what the "intellectuals" thought was necessary for everyone else. Mr. Lippmann annointed himself as one of Plato's philosopher kings. This anecdote is indeed instructive. This is line with the adage that, "War hath no fury as that of the non-combatent." One should note that the current group of armchair patriots have never seen combat. Vice President Cheney had five (5) draft deferments and never saw one he did not like. Yet, he is similiar to Walter Lippmann in that Cheney wants war but never wants to face war's dangers. Lippmann and Cheney fit Andy Jacobs' descriptions of War Wimps and Chicken Hawks.
The essays dealing with the costs of war reveal that the plutocratic rich benefit from military expendatures, but the public never gets to see the bills until later when they come due. Those who prefer to remain ignorant and comfortable about the costs of war only protest when taxes and inflation damage their economic status. Yet, these folks may hold a key to stopping the war machine as suggested in one of the essays if they alerted their U.S. Senators and Representatives.
The appeal to "Demokracy" to initiate wars is ludicrous which Messers Gottfired and Hoppe make very clear. The fact is wars in the name of democracy or wars in the name of the people are the most destructive. A point well made is "Vox populi Vox Dei" applies to war. Modern political views state the voice of the public, no matter how stupid or wrong, is a substitute for reason and knowledge.
Mr. Denson's book is useful for those who are puzzled by the rise of the military state. Readers should also consult the bibliogrphy in this book. Harry Elmer Barnes' anthology titled PERPETUAL WAR FOR PERPETUAL PEACE and James J. Martin's REVISIONIST VIEW POINTS are especially useful. Mr. Denson's THE COSTS OF WAR is timely and well worth reading.