Focusing on war, taxation, public finances, and military and civilian administration, the author attempts to write about such dense topics without invalidating other historians who have put forth their own views on the subject in the past. In the space of about two or three generations during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries Britain emerged as a dominant European power in naval might and trade relations, and by the Crown controlled more territory than it ever had. Brewer notes the popular interpretations of this rise to prominence at the time he was writing, which emphasized either military accomplishments or the commercial and economic advantages Britain had over Continental states. They are helpful in that they point out the means by which nations create massive empires — economic and social resources such as capital and manpower — but for the author both of these factors as well as military events contributed to the enhanced status of Britain. Administration, logistics, and the raising of money are the major historical themes the author handles in his book, preferring to dwell not on outcomes of individual battles but rather upon how administrative changes occurred during the time period in question.

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In fact, Brewer argues, the British "fiscal-military state" became all the more powerful for existing within a parliamentary and constitutional system. Because of this setting, the state had greater popular legitimacy and support.

But of course, some people resented the growth of the state. Cue the provincials? We are talking about a revolt against taxes, imperial administration, and trade controls, after all. Although the book focuses on 18th-century Britain, it provides a lovely window into the making of modern governments in general. It should be especially useful to those interested in the growth of the national government in the United States. And it helps dispel the myth that small, responsible government has ever gone together with modern warfare.

Looks at the minutia of finance, taxes and administration to understand the growth of British power and the empire; to expose the hidden sinews that animated the British body politic: money, logistics, and administration. Breaks the book into 5 parts: 1. State prior to 2. The bits he tracked emerged early and remained late. This is nuanced and interesting but perhaps not necessarily a cover to cover read. It can drag on and points are belabored as historians are want to do.


The Sinews of Power : War, Money and the English State, 1688-1783



The Sinews of Power


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