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Publisher's Summary

Many Americans believe that foreign military intervention is central to protecting our domestic freedoms. But Christopher J. Coyne and Abigail R. Hall urge engaged citizens to think again. Overseas, our government takes actions in the name of defense that would not be permissible within national borders. Emboldened by the relative weakness of governance abroad, the US government is able to experiment with a broader range of social controls.

Under certain conditions, these policies, tactics, and technologies are then re-imported to America, changing the national landscape and increasing the extent to which we live in a police state. Coyne and Hall examine this pattern - which they dub "the boomerang effect" - considering a variety of rich cases that include the rise of state surveillance, the militarization of domestic law enforcement, the expanding use of drones, and torture in US prisons. Synthesizing research and applying an economic lens, they develop a generalizable theory to predict and explain a startling trend. 

Tyranny Comes Home unveils a new aspect of the symbiotic relationship between foreign interventions and domestic politics. It gives us alarming insight into incidents like the shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, and the Snowden case - which tell a common story about contemporary foreign policy and its impact on our civil liberties.

The book is published by Stanford University Press. The audiobook is published by University Press Audiobooks.

Praise for the book:

"An excellent expository text that I do believe was one of the most educational I have read in some time..." (London School of Economics Review of Books)

"Clearly and boldly argued, this is an excellent contribution to our understanding of the economics of interventionism." (Joshua Hall, West Virginia University)

"Coyne and Hall brilliantly reveal that a fatal coarsening comes with the rise of an empire." (Deirdre Nansen McCloskey, University of Illinois at Chicago)

©2018 Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University (P)2020 Redwood Audiobooks

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Persuasive, Important and Timely

Thoughtful, well-written, and painfully timely - Its a book I can recommend easily as required reading right now.

Coyne and Hall advance an idea that may seem intuitive upon reflection, but has failed to be adequately accounted for: the interplay between military interventionism and our domestic policies has drastically impacted our civil liberties. Their "Boomerang theory” is explained and then explored in a series of topical chapters that make it easy to digest.

It also expands on the idea that where technology has reduced the costs of government size, scope and action – without corresponding checks – it has grown accordingly, and often without adequate oversight.

The authors seek to show, I think persuasively, that military interventionism is incredibly damaging to our civil society. But it begs the question: what are the implications if one accepts their arguments? They posit that change will require broad-based cultural changes – but in some ways this response feels lacking. Of course this is true, but in the end we need the government to change – and that response is never fully given. Perhaps it would be a nice follow up to this book!

The strongest chapter, in my mind, was the militarization of the police – which provides an excellent historical narrative for how we got here. The authors caveat the theory by describing it as “long and variable,” meaning the full extent of the expansions of state power cannot be known or seen at the time they occur. Even so, the chapter looking at Drones seems to attempt exactly that, and with a degree less success. Still, it alerts us to dangers that we should seek to prevent.

In the end, I thought this book incredibly well written and well argued. I would love to see it updated to include additional discussion of recent events – but they would simply be making the points in the book even more forcefully.

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solidly supported thesis, read like a textbook

While some may like the deep monotone voice of the reader, the monotony made it hard for me to pay attention to the author's points. This well-researched, well-summarized thesis plays a critical role in the annals of literature that discuss what freedom in American society really means.