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The Puritans condemned war profiteering as a "Provoking Evil," George Washington feared that it would ruin the Revolution, and Franklin D. Roosevelt promised many times that he would never permit the rise of another crop of "war millionaires." Yet on every occasion that American soldiers and sailors served and sacrificed in the field and on the sea, other Americans cheerfully enhanced their personal wealth by exploiting every opportunity that wartime circumstances presented.
In Warhogs, Stuart D. Brandes masterfully blends intellectual, economic, and military history into a fascinating discussion of a great moral question for generations of Americans: Can some individuals rightly profit during wartime while others sacrifice their lives to protect the nation?
Drawing upon a wealth of manuscript sources, newspapers, contemporary periodicals, government reports, and other relevant literature, Brandes traces how each generation in financing its wars has endeavored to assemble resources equitably, to define the ethical questions of economic mobilization, and to manage economic sacrifice responsibly. He defines profiteering to include such topics as price gouging, quality degradation, trading with the enemy, plunder, and fraud, in order to examine the different guises of war profits and the degree to which they have existed from one era to the next.
This far-reaching discussion moves beyond a linear narrative of the financial schemes that have shaped this nation's capacity to make war to an in-depth analysis of American thought and culture. Those scholars, students, and general readers interested in the interaction of legislative, economic, social, and technological events with the military establishment will find no other study that so thoroughly surveys the story of war profits in America.
Stuart D. Brandes is professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Rock County.
"Stuart D. Brandes has written a solid, thoroughly researched, and exceedingly unemotional and restrained history of a neglected subject, carrying it through World War II with a limited consideration of the Cold War. . . . [H]is book is not to be ignored by either economic or military historians."—American Historical Review
"Offers a treasure of information on greed and selfishness during crises in America."—Reviews in American History
"A valuable addition to the historiography of the United States munitions industry and its relationship to American democracy and capitalism."—Journal of Southwest Georgia History
"The only comprehensive attempt to deal with the many facets of government contracting during time of military crisis through World War II. . . . This balanced account is must reading for anyone interested in American military history."—Military History of the West
"Stuart D. Brandes is the first scholar to tackle the complex and ever-shifting issue of war profits across nearly the entire scope of American history. This highly readable narrative asks the right questions and supplies cogent, well-reasoned answers based on impressive research and careful reflection."—Daniel E. Sutherland
The University Press of Kentucky
Place of Publication
War profits, Profiteering, War financing
United States History
Brandes, Stuart D., "Warhogs: A History of War Profits in America" (1997). United States History. 107.