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Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution
The author, Simon Schama, claims that no nation with pretensions of empire will balance the national budget. During the late 1700's, France's expeditionary and domestic defense expenses in the 7 Years War and American War for Independence pressured the Royalty toward austerity, tax increases, encouraging patriotic subscriptions (war bonds, I guess), and finally borrowing. Of course, it was said, and perhaps is always said, future economic growth will cover the deficit, and perhaps that is sometimes true, as the great empires of Europe weather long lists of conflicts, but before recovery, it sets a country to weather future economic trouble poorly.