Why do the British drink beer and the French drink wine? In his new book, War, Wine, and Taxes, George Mason University economist John V.C. Nye debunks the myth that Britain was a free-trading nation during and after the Industrial Revolution by revealing how the British used tariffs-especially on French wine-as a mercantilist tool to weaken France and to appease domestic brewers and other politically connected special interests. It's a boldly revisionist account of economic history and one whose relevance to contemporary trade policy is all too troubling.

Nye spoke with Reason Editor-in-Chief Nick Gillespie at a reception in Reason's Washington office on October 9.