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371 of 383 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not merely about the Bushes, but about the nation as a whole
I have to admit by being completely surprised by this book. From the title and from reading the dust jacket, it sounded a tad conspiratorial to me, as if it were trying to force a template on history that wasn't there. But Phillips's case about the worldview that the Bush and Walker families generated that determined the policies and points of view and values of both...
Published on February 1, 2004 by Robert Moore

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163 of 172 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars At least read the book before criticizing
All you guys giving American Dynasty 1 stars and bashing Phillips, let me ask ou a question: Have you actually read this or any of Phillips books?Let me as you another question; have you ever heard Phillips speak on tv? Are ou so closed minded that you automatically accept anything that does not praise as hype and bull without at least cheking it out first? American...
Published on January 11, 2004


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371 of 383 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not merely about the Bushes, but about the nation as a whole, February 1, 2004
I have to admit by being completely surprised by this book. From the title and from reading the dust jacket, it sounded a tad conspiratorial to me, as if it were trying to force a template on history that wasn't there. But Phillips's case about the worldview that the Bush and Walker families generated that determined the policies and points of view and values of both George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush is close to overwhelming. I expected going into the book that it would be mildly informative; coming out, I have to say that no book that I have read on either of the Bushes (and I have at this point read pretty all of them) has been as informative and as full of insight as this one.
It is essential to stress two things. First, unlike some of the one star reviewers who obviously haven't cracked the book, Phillips means this as a warning against all political dynasties, which was, in fact, a major concern of the Founding Fathers. They were terrified of political families whose influence would extend from one generation to another. And this fear persisted well into the 19th century. Anyone doubting this should read a good biography of John Quincy Adams. Phillips points out early in the book that the Kennedy family was a bit of a dynasty (and would have been one for certain had Robert F. Kennedy not been assassinated in 1968), and he acknowledges that if Hillary Clinton were to run and win in 2008 that would also constitute a dynasty. His decision to focus on the Bush/Walker family derives from the fact that they in fact have had two presidencies in less than a decade, as well as other members of the family holding other political positions (Preston Bush was a U.S. Senator and Jeb Bush a governor). Second, this book is an exploration of many of the ills of the political system. The faults and flaws are not tied merely to the personalities of Bush 41 and Bush 43, but are systemic and run across the political spectrum, and across the political spectrum. Put simply, the problem is the dominance of the industrial-military complex that Eisenhower tried to warn us against (though Phillips would characterize it as the industrial-military-investment-energy-secret service complex). In "Who is an Author?" Michel Foucault argued that the author was a nexus through which all of society produced a book. In a sense, Bush 41 and Bush 43 are merely conduits through which the great conglomerate that Phillips describes with such clarity makes concrete its goals. Even if Bush 43 is defeated in 2004, this complex is not going to go away. Bush is part of the problem, but merely a part.
The power of the book derives from the deep background he provides of the founders of the Bush/Walker dynasty. Ironically, although two Bushes have become president, the real founding of the family came on the Walker side. George Herbert Walker, Bush 41's maternal grandfather, is the Joseph Kennedy of the Walker/Bush clan. Every indication is that Preston Bush, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush are marginally gifted individuals, with no real abilities of their own, who have managed to be successful because of the mass of extraordinarily high-level connections established by George Herbert Walker. It was through Walker that the two families became allied with many of the most powerful individuals in 20th century American life, connections that Bush 41 and Bush 43 have exploited over and over and over again. I had read before about key individuals who had assisted, say, Bush 43 in ventures like Arbusto or Bush 41 in the Zapata oil operations, but reading of the individuals who would step is with enormous investments meant little to me. But those investors were without exception individuals who had become aligned with the family through George Herbert Walker. These are classic instances of what is known as crony capitalism, which has been key to the ascent of both Bushes to the White House.
Phillips does a magnificent job at detailing the family connections to the investment world, the world of oil and energy, to the Middle East (extending back not merely to the first president, but to George Herbert Walker and his massive business ties to the region in the 1920s and thereafter), and (largely through their Yale connections and through Walker's business ties) to the intelligence community, and especially the CIA. Most disturbing is the way he describes the family's enormously circumscribed view of economics. Essentially, the family knows nothing of business or economics outside the narrow purview of investment (even their connections with oil and energy has been on the investment side). They have little knowledge or contact with industry or small business or, really, any aspect of the economy outside of investing. Therefore, the family assumption is that if you take care of investors, you have taken care of the only thing in an economy that matters. If investors are doing well, you needn't pay direct attention to any other facet of the economy, like jobs or manufacturing capacity. Although many economists are deeply concerned about the current state of the U.S. economy (with gigantic deficits, enormous debt to nations like China, and continued employment difficulties), from the narrow view of the Bushes, things are good because they have taken care of the investment class.
I heartily recommend this book to anyone concerned with the current state of politics in America. It is not, as I said, merely a book on the Bushes, but on many of the things truly wrong today in America. Essential reading.
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295 of 311 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Make Up Your Own Mind, January 9, 2004
I too first saw Kevin Phillips on C-Span discussing this book. Phillips is a lawyer and former aide to the Nixon White House, and is hardly a liberal flame-thrower. I was impressed by his level-headedness in reviewing, with a tinge of disappointment and anger, the history of the Bush family and its many years of backroom dealings with Saudia Arabia, the oil industry, and, incredibly, the Bin Laden family. (Don't forget, in the days immediately following 9-11, the ONLY commercial flights that were allowed to take off in the US were the planes carrying members of the Bin Laden family out of the country.)
This is not a shrill, one-note, Bush-bashing book, and Phillips does not appear to have an agenda or axe to grind. Accordingly, he comes across as exceedingly fair and objective. His history goes back several generations, is detailed and fully supported, and reveals the Bush family's long-standing ability to insinuate itself with, and do the bidding of, the monied class. As others, including Phillips himself, have mentioned, these are not new revelations - it is all public and available information. What seems to particularly gall Phillips is the mainstream media's laziness and lack of interest in pursuing any aspect of this tale.
Neither Al Frankin nor Ann Coulter, Phillips is to be commended for this book.
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81 of 82 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Insightful Book With a Few Odd Jags, February 7, 2004
By 
LAM (Boston, Massachusetts) - See all my reviews
With little question, much of the reportage in Kevin Phillips' "American Dynasty" is exactly the kind of thing that the major American media should have been doing prior to the 2000 election. Phillips exposes, in startling detail, the Bush family's ties to the Religious Right, big oil and the munitions complex and, in particular, how the family's longstanding relationships with all of these have reached full flower with GW Bush. Particularly damning is the chapter on the family's and the current president's relationship to some of the more fanatical elements of the Religious Right.
With that said, Phillips does go off on some odd jags that will strike some readers as beyond the pale and a little nutty. In Phillips' hands, the sparse record around Prescott Bush's alleged dealings with Nazi Germany probably gets more attention than it should. Some of these more conspiratorial elements of "American Dynasty" keep this indictment from being absolutely first-rate, but do not ultimately derail the book's stronger elements.
Many other reviewers have dismissed Phillips as "bitter" or trying to "foment class warfare." To such criticisms, I think it's important to consider Phillips' background. Phillips is most famous for having written "The Emerging Republican Majority," and for having been a kind of political soothsayer who predicted the realignment that led to the end of the New Deal liberal coalition. Phillips made his greatest mark during a time of real intellectual ferment in the Republican Party -- when the ascendency of neo conservatism was breathing new life into the conservative movement, and real, serious ideas were being generated. Judging from this fact, and from reading other of Phillips' books, such as "Boiling Point" or "Wealth and Democracy," or "The Politics of Rich and Poor" or his famous feuds with elitists, such as William F. Buckley Jr., Phillips is clearly a person who cares about all levels on the socioeconomic spectrum, and not just the plutocracy. It's easy to see why he would be so bothered by a family that embodies all the worst elements of the modern Republican Party. If only from the tone of "American Dynasty," I have no doubt that Phillips is, in fact, greatly upset with the current status of the Republican Party of which he was long a member, and its wholesale embrace of crony capitalism and kooky religionists afraid of the teaching evolution. But unlike some of my fellow reviewers, I think Phillips' obvious disenchantment makes this book more powerful -- not less.
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163 of 172 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars At least read the book before criticizing, January 11, 2004
By A Customer
All you guys giving American Dynasty 1 stars and bashing Phillips, let me ask ou a question: Have you actually read this or any of Phillips books?Let me as you another question; have you ever heard Phillips speak on tv? Are ou so closed minded that you automatically accept anything that does not praise as hype and bull without at least cheking it out first? American Dynasty may blow a few holes through the Bush image, but it is worth a read. I listened to Phillips last week on CSPAN and he is not a hero killer, bias without facts as some purport him to be. He not a Nixonite; he worked for Nixon that does not make him like Nixon.Like I said, at least read the book and listen to Phillips before hurling harsh reviews on the man and his work. Even if you are a strong Bush supporter, you owe it to yourself to read this book and check the data for yourself. Read the book. Listen to Phillips. Examine the facts. If they don't add up, then come back and offer your insight, but at least make it articulate. Untill then, back off!
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124 of 134 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, a writer digs into the Bush sewer, January 5, 2004
By A Customer
After years of puff-pieces on the Bush family from lazy reporters just trying to meet deadline, Kevin Phillips stuns us all by gathering largely public information to show the lies and deceit of the Bush legacy. From the early days in the military industrial complex to the recent "election" to the presidency...lazy reporters have let scandal after scandal, deal after deal...just slide.
If nothing else, this book shows our national press corps to be lazy elitists.
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155 of 169 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What are you Bush-ites afraid of?, January 11, 2004
By A Customer
Are you George Bush fans afraid of facts or opinion? What is wrong with at least reading a book like this and then getting the facts?I missed Phillips on CSPAN tonite but have seen him before. He knows whereof he speaks.Pro Bush or anti Bush you should at least read this book---borrow it from your library if you feel it's anti-Bush to buy the book, read it and then tell us what you think. Don't just attack it because Phillips is revealing some things you don't like. To do that puts you in the same category of a cult follower---blindly following someone irregardless of facts. So, read the book then form an opinion. If you can't at least do that, then I say your heads are all full of cottonwad and you are cult-like sheep!
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139 of 151 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's all about greed and ego, January 16, 2004
By A Customer
This book depicts how four generations have elevated the Bush's to fame and power. It depicts a lot of raw dealings, a rise to fame and power. I liked Al Gore's coments today when he said that G.W. Bush is a "moral liar." Way to go Al!The Bush Dynasty is all about greed and ego. A rise to power at the expence of the people.Phillips has written an excellent book. One star reviewers, try reading something besides comic books. Read Kevin Phillps book and maybe you will actually learn something.
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55 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars we need to know more about the people we elect, February 5, 2004
For those of you one star reviewers that claim that this is just a bunch of lies, go check out his facts. I easily found many of them by just Google searching, etc. What he has done with this book has put it all together so that we have it displayed in one book. This is an important book in that it does a wonderful job of showing us how the Bush family became so prominent and powerful and why it is not in the best interest of this country to have any one family, no matter who it is, in control of so much power. After reading this book it is abundantly clear to me that we, the people, need to look very closely at the people we vote for and those that they represent, again, regardless of party. Don't just believe what the politicians tell us, look to see what they have actually done to support the issues they say they support.
This is one of the best books out right now and I encourage any of you that are interested in our country and the history of the family that has become so prominent in our government and how they got to that point. This is a book written by a Republican who cares about our country. It is for all of us regardless of our party affiliation.
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65 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Detailed, Documented and Devastating, January 27, 2004
By 
Bob McDonald (Pennsylvania, USA) - See all my reviews
A devastating history of four generations of Bushes and Walkers, Phillips' book is also a scholarly examination of how that history forms the policy and decisions of George W. Bush.
Early in the book the prudish and moralistic Phillips comes down especially hard on President Clinton, the book suffers a little from a non-chronological approach from chapter to chapter, and there are so many quotes and so much documentation that it required me to take it slower than normal. Still, it remains very readable.
Even a political junkie will find a mountain of new information. BCCI, Halliburton, Harken, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Wall Street, fundamentalists (both Christian and Muslim), Carlyle, Enron, the CIA .... the list goes on and on. This family of mediocre - especially in the last two generations - people has made its fortune in money and power through contacts and secrecy, not merit. Gordon Geckos without the brains.
People speak of a Kennedy dynasty but, until now, not a Bush dynasty. Yet, as Phillips shows, the Bush dynasty is vastly more powerful, vastly more egotistical, vastly more clandestine and vastly more corrupt.
No other book brings together more information on the Bushes, and no other book exposes so much new information. It's truly devastating.
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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Required reading before the November election, September 13, 2004
By 
C. B Collins Jr. (Atlanta, GA United States) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
Before reviewing this exceptional book, it is important to point out that Kevin Phillips was an economic advisor to republican president Richard Nixon, served as a White House strategist under Republican leadership, and wrote the prophetic book: The Emerging Republican Majority that predicted the rise of the Republican party. His Republican and conservative credentials are top of the line, yet he warns the people of the United States of America about the current Bush administration and traces policy and power brokerage back multiple generations in the Bush and Walker families.

Phillips documents the rise of the military-industrial complex in this country and links the Bush family deep in this web of political international influence and foreign policy development.

The descriptions of war profiteers, such as the DuPonts, in World War I and II are contrasted with the considerable amount of war profiteering that is present in the Bush and Cheney families.

Phillips points out that years of wealth and priviledge have inclined the Bush family to moral arrogance and disregard for the democratic and republican tranditions of the U.S. government, a frightful indictment.

The Bush family has undergone a miraculous change from Episcopalian yankee blue-bloods in the banking and investment fields to evangelical born-again Texans, a shift that mirrors demographic and political power changes in this country. Phillips poins out the dangers inherent in foreign policy shaped by the Book of Revelations. George W Bush managed the Evangelical Fundamentalist Christians through his father's campaign and presidency. His political skills must never be underestimated because George W was able to out manueveur both Jerry Falwell, Gary Bauer, and Pat Robertson to become the head of the religious right.

The power base for the Bush family has been the internaltioan reach of US investment banking (Prescott Bush and Herbert Walker)domestic energy sector (Enron), the drive for US control of global oil supplies, defense industries (Halliburton),the Pentagon and the expansion of the military industrial complex, and the growth in the CIA an other intelligence operations. In addition, tax breaks for the investor class and the upper income groups ensures a loyal voter block.

Investment in petroleum businesses is linked to the Bush's preoccupation with investment, capital gains taxes, and tax shelters.

Though Geroge W Bush distances himself from the Enron catastrophy that resulted in billions of dollars of loss to share holders as well as billions of dollars of loss to employees and former employees with the collapse of the 401 (k) programs heavily invested in Enron, the fact remains that Enron support for George H.W. Bush and Governor George W. Bush of Texas has been prolonged.

I found the sections on George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush to be very informative. George H.W. Bush used wealth and social priviledge to gain access nad power in the Richard Nixon administration and became a favorite of the Ford administration, being promoted to the head of the CIA.

Phillips follows a similar pattern in American Dynasty to the strategy he used in his class book: Wealth and Democracy. Whereas in Wealth and Democracy he traces parrallels between the Spanish Empire, the Dutch trading Empire, and the British Empire to current US domestic, economic, and international policies; in the Americn Dynasty Phillips makes connections between the restoration of the Bourbons in France and the Stuarts in England. All this is interesting, but not really essential. The sections on the rise of George H.W. and George W. were frightening enough.
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American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune, and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush
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