urban institute press

Their Fair Share: Taxing the Rich in the Age of FDR | Review Comments

Their Fair Share book cover

“Joe Thorndike is the gold standard when it comes to the history of American taxation—a sadly neglected topic in academia. As he correctly explains, today's tax code rests largely on a foundation established during the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration, which saw the percentage of Americans paying income taxes rise tenfold. Since many of the debates on tax policy today echo those during the formative years of the income tax, academics, policymakers, and taxpayers should be aware of them to avoid reinventing the wheel.”

Bruce Bartlett
Author of The Benefit and the Burden: Tax Reform—Why We Need It and What It Will Take


“Whatever you think you know about federal taxes, historian Joe Thorndike’s Their Fair Share will surprise you with fascinating facts and insights. Thorndike marshals telling details to weave a rich tapestry about how the federal tax system had developed when the New Deal began and how revisions wrought by FDR’s administration changed America, and Americans' fortunes, illuminating our own tax policy debates today. And best of all, the words and ideas flow smooth and clear whether you are a veteran wonk or a high school student.

David Cay Johnston
Pulitzer-prize winning author of Perfectly Legal, Free Lunch, and The Fine Print


"Joe Thorndike is the Alexis de Tocqueville of tax culture, a lucid, nonpartisan guide shining light on the idiosyncratic, oft-surprising events of the past. His new volume is indispensable to understanding why modern fiscal policy has been so challenging."

Amity Shlaes
Author of Coolidge and director of the 4% Growth Project


"If you think the United States needs comprehensive and fundamental tax reform, this is the most important book you could read just now. Joe Thorndike knows that history can offer crucial guidance, and in Their Fair Share he explains brillianly how and why the country undertook such reform most recently—in the Great Depression and World War II. No one has written about the history of taxation during these last great national crises with as much verve, clarity, and intellectural depth as Thorndike in this landmark book. It deserves to play a major role in the resolution of the nation's fiscal dilemmas."

W. Elliot Brownlee
Emeritus Professor of History, University of California, Santa Barbara



Their Fair Share: Taxing the Rich in the Age of FDR, by Joseph J. Thorndike, is available from the Urban Institute Press in paperback (ISBN 978-0-87766-771-1, 6" x 9", 362 pages, $29.50) and eBook (ISBN 978-0-87766-782-7, $14.99).


2011 Urban Institute | Contact Us | Privacy Policy