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American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America Paperback – January 8, 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 274 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; Reprint edition (January 8, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743284461
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743284462
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (255 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #66,989 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. The f-word crops up in the most respectable quarters these days. Yet if the provocative title of this exposé by Hedges (War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning)—sounds an alarm, the former New York Times foreign correspondent takes care to employ his terms precisely and decisively. As a Harvard Divinity School graduate, his investigation of the Christian Right agenda is even more alarming given its lucidity. Citing the psychology and sociology of fascism and cults, including the work of German historian Fritz Stern, Hedges draws striking parallels between 20th-century totalitarian movements and the highly organized, well-funded "dominionist movement," an influential theocratic sect within the country's huge evangelical population. Rooted in a radical Calvinism, and wrapping its apocalyptic, vehemently militant, sexist and homophobic vision in patriotic and religious rhetoric, dominionism seeks absolute power in a Christian state. Hedges's reportage profiles both former members and true believers, evoking the particular characteristics of this American variant of fascism. His argument against what he sees as a democratic society's suicidal tolerance for intolerant movements has its own paradoxes. But this urgent book forcefully illuminates what many across the political spectrum will recognize as a serious and growing threat to the very concept and practice of an open society. (Jan. 9)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Chris Hedges may be the most credible figure yet to detect real-life fascism in the Red America of megachurches, gay-marriage bans and Left Behind books. American Facists is at its most daring when it enunciates...the perversities that are obvious to those of us not beholden to political exigencies." -- New York Observer

"Throughout, Hedges documents, and reflects on, what he feels is the bigotry, the homophobia, the fanaticism -- and the deeply un-Christian ideology -- that pose clear and present danger in our previous and fragile republic." -- O, the Oprah magazine

"This is a powerful book that looks inside some of the darkest movements on American soil." -- Time Out New York

More About the Author

Chris Hedges is a cultural critic and author who was a foreign correspondent for nearly two decades for The New York Times, The Dallas Morning News, The Christian Science Monitor and National Public Radio. He reported from Latin American, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He was a member of the team that won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting for The New York Times coverage of global terrorism, and he received the 2002 Amnesty International Global Award for Human Rights Journalism. Hedges, who holds a Master of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School, is the author of the bestsellers American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America, Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle and was a National Book Critics Circle finalist for his book War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning. He is a Senior Fellow at The Nation Institute and writes an online column for the web site Truthdig. He has taught at Columbia University, New York University, Princeton University and the University of Toronto.

Customer Reviews

Over the course of the book, author Chris Hedges explains it all.
Jean E. Pouliot
As the author notes in one quote "Religion is a good thing for good people and a bad thing for bad people."
Herbert L Calhoun
Chris Hedges's crystal clear book shows ominously the dangers of the Christian Right for democracy.
Luc REYNAERT

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

501 of 534 people found the following review helpful By W. Szewai on January 25, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Most great artists and thinkers are outsiders in some sense or another. This ability to observe from the outside often uncovers patterns that are invisible because they are too close. Chris Hedges spent most of his adult life outside of the United States, covering wars and despotic regimes. On his return to America, he was able to see our society with an eye unblunted by habit or assumptions, which, combined with his theological education and visceral experience and understanding of totalitarian systems, gives him a uniquely penetrating perspective into the growing movement known as the Christian Right.

In "American Fascists," Hedges never makes the simplistic claim that the Christian Right is the Nazi party, or that Bush is Mussolini, or that America will inevitably become a fascist state. His investigation is much more nuanced, identifying the incipient stirrings, invisible to many Americans, of a complex, mass political movement that is mobilizing and gaining strength and support beneath the surface of our democracy.

In characteristically muscular and clear prose that fuses the minister and veteran reporter, Hedges not only details multiple facets of the movement, but also examines the ideological undercurrents that drive them and how they translate into political consequences.

At The Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, which "prove[s] that God's word is true," Hedges writes "The danger of creationism is...that it allows all facts to be accepted or discarded according to the dictates of a preordained ideology.
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250 of 276 people found the following review helpful By R. Daniels on January 25, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an excellent study of fascism, its past and present grips on the Religious Right and the catalysts that might usher in a Christian Fascism movement in the United States.

As a Christian with experience in both conservative and liberal evangelical congregations, I found useful insights into the political and religious shifts I've witnessed since the 1970s and that we've all seen accelerate after 9/11. How is it that well intentioned churches and their members have come to believe that homosexuality is THE problem facing the U.S. today? How can self-professed Christians become unabased cheerleaders for war? How do Christians get so caught up in television personality cults masquarading as Christian ministries?

These and many many other questions are asked and answered by Hedges. The historic background and his logic in reaching those answers are accessibly presented. Where those answers eventually lead is a cause for concern to all U.S. citizens and, as a Christian, the author makes it clear that the responsibility for standing up to the unholy rise of Christian Fascism falls squarely on the shoulders of Christians.

The more "religous" you are, the more important I think it is that you consider the points made by the author. You're not going to like most of them. But I think you will come to agree with too many of them to ignore his overarching concerns.
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217 of 245 people found the following review helpful By David R. Cook on February 8, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Chris Hedges has all the personal and experiential credentials to take on the Christian "dominionists" that pose a danger to our democracy and, by extension, the world. First, he is a fine writer. Second, he has covered from the ground most of the wars of the second half of the 20th Century. And third, he thinks deeply and personally about religion, theology, ethics and morality. His admired father was a Presbyterian minister who cared deeply about tolerance and community. Having said all that, Hedges does not pull any punches in equating the small group of dominionists (about 7% of Christians) with the behavior and belief systems that were part and parcel of fascism. He has read deeply in analyses of fascism, such as Hannah Arendt, and, being the good reporter that he is, has attended some of the different gatherings of dominionists and talked to those who have been affected by their involvement in the cult like movements that pass for Christianity.

America today faces many internal threats to our democracy. Not least of these threats comes from the imperialistic presidency with which we have been inflicted by Bush and Cheney. Would they were the only purveyors of American imperialism, but they have only taken this bent to a new level. The Christian Right, led by the dominionists, is directly tuned in to this imperialism, turning it into "God's will", with the exciting twist that we are heading for the apocalypse when only the saved will attain heaven. Because these so-called Christians are heavily funded and control a disproportionate number of radio and TV outlets, their influence far exceeds their numbers. Elsewhere, it has been observed that history shows that nations cannot maintain an empire abroad and democracy at home.
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112 of 129 people found the following review helpful By Anthony M. Zipple on February 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you tend to agree with fundamentalist Christians you will be irate about this book. If you are a progressive, you will cheer. Whatever your perspective, Hedges outlines a compelling case about the dangers of dominionist strains of fundamentalist Christianity in the US today.

The question that readers should ask is not whether the book is "hateful" or "intolerant" but whether the core facts are true and implications are valid. Hedges tries to use factual statements about dominionist behavior and then suggest implications of the behavior. Much of the material is disturbing. For example, there is no question about the historical overlap between this group of Christians and many ugly aspects of out past including segregation, tax evasion, the John Birch Society, etc. Nor is there serious disagreement about the ugliness of many of the attacks by Falwell, Roberts, and others on gay people, Muslims, progressives, etc. Nor is there much disagreement on their efforts to re-define the US as a Christian country instead of a secular country with a Christian majority. Nor is ther much disagreement about the profoundly anti-intellectual/rational bias in the movement (just look at intelligent design or Christian oriented history books). Or about the well nurtured and well documented paranoia of the group. Or the overtly greedy, financially questionable, sometimes illegal behavior of many of its leaders. All of the many examples cited by Hedges suggests that he may not be reaching too far when he categorizes the group as "fascists." However, agree or disagree, the book is challenging and troubling. And it is well worth reading.
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