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The Great Tax Wars

Lincoln--Teddy Roosevelt--Wilson How the Income Tax Transformed America

About The Book

A major work of history, The Great Tax Wars is the gripping, epic story of six decades of often violent conflict over wealth, power, and fairness that gave America the income tax. It's the story of a tumultuous period of radical change, from Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War through the progressive era under Theodore Roosevelt and ending with Woodrow Wilson and World War I. During these years of upheaval, America was transformed from an agrarian society into a mighty industrial nation, great fortunes were amassed, farmers and workers rebelled, class war was narrowly averted, and America emerged as a global power.
The Great Tax Wars features an extraordinary cast of characters, including the men who built the nation's industries and the politicians and reformers who battled them -- from J. P. Morgan and Andrew Carnegie to Lincoln, T.R., Wilson, William Jennings Bryan, and Eugene Debs. From their ferocious battles emerged a more flexible definition of democracy, economic justice, and free enterprise largely framed by a more progressive tax system. In this groundbreaking book, Weisman shows how the ever controversial income tax transformed America and how today's debates about the tax echo those of the past.

About The Author

Photograph by Elisabeth Bumiller

Steven R. Weisman, vice president for publications and communications at the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE), previously served as a correspondent, editor, and editorial board member at The New York Times. His book The Great Tax Wars: How the Income Tax Transformed America, received the Sidney Hillman Award in 2003.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (November 3, 2004)
  • Length: 432 pages
  • ISBN13: 9780743243810

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Raves and Reviews

Robert Samuelson The New York Times Book Review [An] engaging reconstruction...of largely forgotten history....Weisman's account is crisply written, highly readable, and informative. The fascinating cast of characters...illuminates the social upheavals and political conflicts of another era.

The Washington Post Weisman lays bare the early history of the progressive income tax in America, and in the process makes present-day fracases over taxation echo a much longer debate over wealth and its proper uses in the American republic.

The Boston Globe A great book...Readers who snoozed during economics class will find here prose in plain English, sweetened with intriguing cultural observations and personal tidbits about the leaders who shaped the tax debate.

The New Yorker A riveting story, peopled by extraordinary characters...Weisman illuminates American political and economic history from Abraham Lincoln's administration through Woodrow Wilson's.

Anthony Lewis author of Make No Law "Masterful" is too tame a word for this exciting book. Through the tale of struggles over taxes, Steven Weisman illuminates war, politics, law, and presidential character in American history. You find yourself with Abraham Lincoln, unable to pay for the Civil War -- and with a Supreme Court determined to outlaw the income tax.

Daniel Patrick Moynihan If you have ever paid income tax, this epic work will show you why. I wish I had read this book when I became chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

Donald L. Miller author of City of the Century This is history written on a grand scale, a fresh and arresting account of the half century of turmoil and insurgency that shaped our modern tax system and modern America itself.

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