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One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America 1st Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 141 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0465049493
ISBN-10: 0465049494
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Editorial Reviews


New York Times Book Review
“Kruse tells a big and important story about the mingling of religiosity and politics since the 1930s.”

Wall Street Journal
“America was founded in 1776, but it was only in 1953, with the inauguration of Dwight David Eisenhower as the 34th president, that it became a Christian nation. Such is Kevin M. Kruse’s thesis and, after reading One Nation Under God, it makes perfect sense… an important and convincing reminder that the roots of Christian America were cultivated well before the era of the religious right.”

Washington Post

The Nation
“An illuminating addition to the growing field of the history of American conservatism and capitalism, as well as a vibrant study of the way cultural influence works—one that will make it impossible to take for granted the small print on the back of a dollar bill ever again.... This is what’s most interesting in the story Kruse is telling: the pattern of continuity and change that links our own time with those that came before.”

Foreign Affairs
“[A] fine new book.... Kruse’s thoughtful book illustrates a kind of life cycle of American religious politics: fervent social movements rise up, crest with presidential support, and then slip away, leaving behind rituals, rhetoric, rules, and reforms.”

Dallas Morning News
“Illuminating ... a useful corrective to preacher-politicians who endlessly call for a return to the nation’s religious roots. As Kruse skillfully demonstrates, some of those roots took hold only yesterday.”

The New Republic
“A deftly detailed history of Christianity’s service to capitalism in the United States.”

Christianity Today
“An engaging and important book...”

The American Prospect
“Fascinating, vividly drawn portraits of many players in this drama.”

“A fresh and revealing re-examination of the oft-studied career of the phrase ‘under God’.... A deft elaboration on the irony of the corporate involvement in the Christian America promotion ... [a] literary portrait taken during the last decades in which Protestant powers ‘ran the show.’”

“The author lays out a new mega-subdivision in our sprawling religious history. The result exposes a class of pulpit vipers who infect an insecure quarter of the population and who can never shake the feeling they are not as believed in as they believe they should be.”

H-Net, H-AmRel
“Both contributes decisively to an ongoing scholarly conversation and introduces its readers to a plethora of little-known documents, archives, organizations, and individuals.... A significant contribution to the history of the Christian Right, the Cold war, and the culture wars of the recent past…”

Religion in American History
“An eminently readable book, chock-full of lively and entertaining anecdotes.”

“Engagingly traces the rise of the Christian Right as a political force in America.... One Nation Under God is an important book. We — Christians and Americans — need to understand our history.... In One Nation Under God Kruse offers us a potent reminder of where we have come from, and, perhaps more importantly, how far we still have to go.”

“A thorough and fascinating treatment of a little known thread of U.S. history.”

National Memo
“A new, meticulous, and vital historical account that should be read by anyone who still scratches their head over whether the Tea Party is a religious movement, or wonders how the idealized conception of America as a ‘Christian nation’ was constructed.... Essential reading for anyone who wants to understand that uniquely American alliance between God and mammon.”

Shelf Awareness for Readers
“A detailed history of the roots of the campaign arguing that the United States is a Christian nation.”

“A lucid narrative...”

“[An] engaging history of modern religious nationalism ... briskly narrated and richly detailed...”

Library Journal, Editors' Spring Picks
“Kruse addresses how corporations used clergymen in their PR war against Roosevelt’s New Deal and how evangelist Billy Graham helped Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon use religion as the ‘lowest-common denominator’ to unite the public. I’ve yet to finish it, but I can already tell this will be an informative, insightful read.”

Kirkus, starred review
“In a book for readers from both parties, Kruse ably demonstrates how the simple ornamental mottoes ‘under God’ and ‘In God We Trust,’ as well as the fight to define America as Christian, were parts of a clever business plan.”

Library Journal, starred review
“Thorough and thought-provoking scholarship.... Kruse reveals the marketing machine behind American godliness with authority, insight, and clarity. He illustrates key turning points along the way to provide a cohesive picture of a well-powered movement. He hands us the agenda behind the Pledge of Allegiance, ‘in God we trust,’ and other cornerstones of American patriotism. In short, he exposes the PR man behind the pious curtain.”

E.J. Dionne, Jr., author of Souled Out: Reclaiming Faith and Politics after the Religious Right
“Much has been written about the religious right, but Kevin Kruse has written a breakthrough book by describing the movement’s pre-history in the 1930s and 1950s—and in fascinating detail. Engagingly written, One Nation Under God will provoke many arguments, but it will require all sides to come to terms with facts and events largely buried in our collective memory until Kruse bravely set out to challenge our assumptions.”

Jon Butler, Professor Emeritus of American Studies, History, and Religious Studies at Yale University
“Kevin M. Kruse’s startling One Nation Under God reveals the extraordinary Cold War politics that put 'under God' in America's Pledge of Allegiance, 'In God We Trust' on U.S. stamps, and Cecil B. DeMille's The Ten Commandments on Hollywood’s biggest movie list. The political warriors for a 'Christian America' made the Puritans look like pikers, and Kruse dissects their successes and foibles with grace, glowing research, and more than a little humor. A compelling read!”

Andrew Preston, author of Sword of the Spirit, Shield of Faith: Religion in American War and Diplomacy
“In this riveting book, Kevin Kruse combines the history of religion with the history of capitalism to craft an original interpretation about America’s religious identity. Revisionist in the best sense—bold, daring, and intelligent—it will change how we think about the American past.”

Ari Kelman, author of the Bancroft Prize-winning A Misplaced Massacre
“In this brilliant and iconoclastic book, Kevin M. Kruse shows how an unholy alliance of greedy businessmen, venal clergy, and conservative politicians exploited American spirituality for partisan gain. Kruse’s research is extraordinary, his prose vivid, his argument profound. One Nation Under God is essential reading for anyone interested in understanding contemporary culture in the United States.”

Lizabeth Cohen, author of Making a New Deal: Industrial Workers in America, 1919-1939
“Prepare yourself for a startling and important discovery: ‘Christian America’ is not a legacy of the nation’s founders or a construct of the Cold War Era. Rather, as Kevin Kruse so powerfully shows, it was the deliberate invention of conservative corporate leaders who allied with like-minded clergymen in the 1930s to fight the antichrist they most feared: Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. Kruse convincingly argues that the rise of the religious right over the next decades grew out of these anti-liberal politics, not the other way around. ‘Church and state’ in America has rarely had a better historian than Kruse.”

Ira Katznelson, author of Fear Itself: The New Deal and the Origins of Our Time
“Certain to be controversial, One Nation Under God persuasively reveals how business opponents of the New Deal joined forces with crusading ministers to place religious piety at the core of the American story. The book’s redolent account of this underestimated mid-century point of inflection compels a reassessment of how and when the United States came to be regarded as a consecrated Christian nation.”

Sean Wilentz, Bancroft Prize-winning author of The Rise of American Democracy
“The claim that the United States was founded and then flourished as a Christian nation turns out to be an all-American fraud, disseminated in the 1950s and after by an odd combination of reactionary businessmen, well-meaning political leaders, cranks, cynics, and dupes. Kevin M. Kruse’s calm and devastating book more than debunks the fraud; it offers brilliant insight into our politics, then and now.”

About the Author

Kevin M. Kruse is a professor of history at Princeton University and the author or co-editor of four books, including the award-winning White Flight. Kruse lives in Princeton, New Jersey.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; 1 edition (April 14, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465049494
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465049493
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (141 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #35,949 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"How Corporate America invented Christian America" is a perfect subtitle to Kevin Kruse's excellent book, "One Nation Under God", for as the author discusses, this is what happened to our culture over the course of several decades. It's an eye-opener and he presents an offering full of depth and insight.

As Kruse reminds us in the epilogue, the source of America's becoming a "Christian" nation stems from the vitriol of those clergymen who opposed the New Deal. James Fifield and Abraham Vereide, two early proponents of this new America they sought, gave way to Billy Graham and Pat Robertson, who cemented the fact that God and the Republican party were joined at the hip.

A large part of the book deals with how U.S. presidents dealt with the issue. Dwight Eisenhower presided over the change in the Pledge of Allegiance to include, "One Nation under God" and that American currency now bore the phrase "In God We Trust". His chapters lay the necessary groundwork nicely for the two most revealing chapters, "Our So-Called Religious Leaders", which largely deal with efforts to pass a constitutional amendment requiring school prayer, and "Which Side Are You On?", an intense look at how shamelessly Richard Nixon and his administration publicy made God "their own".

While it is hard to imagine today the thousands of billboards and leaflets displayed in the manner that they were in the 1960s, the undercurrent of nastiness that exists to "promote" God remains. You can hear it in the Tea Party. What Kevin Kruse reminds us is that religion was, and still is, as divisive a force as any we have had in the past and have in America today.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Prof. Kruse wanders away from the promise of the subtitle of his book--"How corporate America Invented Christian America." He almost gets there when he describes the ideological opposition of the wealthy to F.D.R's "New Deal." and their caricature of the "social gospel" as Communist propaganda. His description of Truman's encounter with Billy Graham is wonderful. For a book published in 2015, Kruse makes only slight mention of the fact that the politics of money and religion in contemporary times becomes more pernicious every day. The main body of the book drifts into redundant detail about "who prayed with who" and the spiritual influence of prominent evangelists on presidents from Eisenhower to Bush with only faint reference to their ties with the Capitalist agenda. He portrays wealthy Christians as true religious zealots when, in fact, they and many of the politicians they supported were likely hypocrites using religion as a wedge issue to increase their power and pursue their agenda of unregulated Capitalism. It is remarkable that Kruse entirely fails to mention the Koch brothers--billionaires who bankroll countless ultra right-wing politicians with evangelical agendas, while they, themselves, are apparently Ayn-Rand-style libertarian atheists interested only in a social-Darwinian, Capitalist heaven. Prof. Kruse leaves us stranded on third base, when he could have hit a home run!
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Format: Hardcover
Excellent analysis and history of how Christian fundamentalism and the capitalist system became conflated in the attempt to erode the divide between church and state, rewrite history, re-cast progressive political struggles as not only "Un-American", but "anti-Christian", and to justify the ruling class ideology and economic system as having been ordained by god... this dangerous union limits the range of acceptable debate, bolsters American exceptionalism, has waged a multi-decade propaganda/public relations war to coincide with the class warfare of the elites, uses churches to propagate ruling class ideology, and will continue to have undue influence in years to come, as a full third of the republican party self-identify as religious fundamentalists who push for the destruction of all the social gains won since the 30s/ 60s and who, in concert with corporate power and government power, seek to eradicate any notions of church-state separation, seek to control the culture, and seek to use faith in the service of reprehensible and genuinely un-American ideals that leave no room for social programs, no room for diversity, no room for science, no room for any ideas that contradict or challenge the myth of America as a Christian-capitalist Godly ordained empire. I would also recommend the book American Taliban, about the grave threat religious fundamentalism poses to this country and the ideals on which it was actually founded.Read more ›
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A very interesting book. It shows the financial and corporate backing of the tidal wave of evangelism that swept America after the mass panic coming from the disintegration of the hopes of a peaceful world after World War II. The key year was 1949 when the USSR exploded the bomb and Mao won the Chinese Civil War. What this author shows is how a lot of the ground work for what happened was built in the 1930's. All this relates to today where this conservative movement evolved into today's "religious right".
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