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The Cousins' Wars: Religion, Politics, Civil Warfare, And The Triumph Of Anglo-America Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 736 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465013708
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465013708
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 1.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #156,881 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Political commentator Kevin Phillips (author of the 1991 bestseller The Politics of Rich and Poor) takes a break from analyzing the latest election returns with this sweeping history of Anglo-American exceptionalism. How did the political culture of Anglo-America rise "from a small Tudor kingdom to a global community and world hegemony"? asks Phillips. His answer comes in the course of studying three wars--the English Civil War, the American Revolution, and the U.S. Civil War. Phillips does not examine the military history of these conflicts, looking instead at the political, religious, economic, and sectional interests that shaped them. He makes several eye-opening observations, comparing, for instance, a "state-by-state portrait of which counties, towns, districts, or regions were loyal" during the American Revolution to "ethnoreligious maps of the modern-day Balkans." This is a hefty book (over 600 pages, not including appendices and footnotes), and while Phillips's preface is a bit self-absorbed, admirers of David Landes's The Wealth and Poverty of Nations and Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel will find much to like between its covers. --John J. Miller --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Phillips (Arrogant Capital) is one of the most influential political analysts in America. In 1969, his The Emerging Republican Majority correctly predicted that the Republicans would become the majority party by taking control of the then Democratic South. Now, turning to the past, he offers this ambitious account of how "Anglo-America"?his term for the cultural and political axis and kinship of the U.S. and Britain?came to dominate the political, linguistic and economic shape of the world. His thesis is sweeping: a trio of wars?the English Civil War, the American Revolution and the U.S. Civil War?were a single crucible out of which a dominant Anglo-America emerged. In each of these "cousins' wars," maintains Phillips, the catalytic groups were similar: Puritans from Eastern England (East Anglia) in the 1640s; their Yankee descendants in New England in 1775 and 1860. Moreover, he argues, each of the three wars reaffirmed and spurred Anglo-America's expansionism, as well as the belief of British imperialists and American pioneers that they were God's chosen people with a manifest destiny to fulfill. Phillips emphasizes the plight of the cousins' wars' principal losers: black slaves and ex-slaves, Native Americans, the Irish. Interestingly, he counts Germans among the losers, arguing that Anglo-American ascendancy and waves of European emigration to the U.S. diminished the relative clout of German-Americans and thwarted Germany's expansionist ambitions. As in his political analyses, Phillips pays close attention to ethnic, religious, class and electoral divisions. At times, his thoroughness makes for slow, somewhat wonky going, but on balance this is a tremendously rewarding work full of startling connections and provocative syntheses. Agent, Bill Leigh.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

The best book I have ever read about American history.
David J. Highsmith
Finally, I think that Mr. Phillips goes to great lengths to show how seriously divided the United States was between gaining independence and the Civil War.
Robert Fishman
After finishing the book, I found myself pondering a number of questions.
G. Budrikis

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

58 of 60 people found the following review helpful By matthew j herbers on November 5, 2001
Format: Paperback
Phillips make a compelling argument that the three wars, English Civil War of 1640, American Revolution of 1776, and American Civil War of 1861, all carry the same dynamics between combatants. Those dynamics, Catholic vs. Protestant, Reformer vs. Conservative, Land Holder vs. Artisan, tumble down from one war to the next, and Phillips does a thorough job of explaining them. However, my only complaint with the book is that he was too thorough. I am an avid reader of history as a hobby, so I am a stranger neither to details in demographics nor dealing with person and place names unfamiliar to me. But I read history because it is fascinating stuff with outrageous personalities and remarkable coincidences, things that fiction simply cannot create and call "plausible". This book was more of a thesis--dry and heavy going.
I recommend the book to those who want to look at these wars, and the relationship between the USA and the UK, in a new light. The conclusions are eye-opening and thought provoking. But the path to getting to those conclusions is a tough one, so I do not recommend this book to those who read history as a happy diversion from daily routine.
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44 of 45 people found the following review helpful By R Boast/D Edmunds on May 9, 2000
Format: Paperback
Every now and then a book comes along which really does live up to the usual publisher's hype that it will change our view of history - this book is one. Although there are a few factual and spelling mistakes (it's "Macaulay", not "Macauley") and the author is clearly not as comfortable with the English civil war as he is with the two other "cousins' wars" (the American revolutionary war and the US Civil War) this is a five-star book for the novelty and interest of its main thesis. It goes a lot further than books such as Fisher's which note the persistence of English regional ethnic communities in the US. It is a study rather of how Anglo-American world hegemony came to be through three trans-Atlantic civil wars. There are some parallels with JCD's Clark's emphasis on the primacy of religious discourse in Early Modern Britain and America, but Clark is a difficult writer and _The Cousin's Wars_ is very readable, and anyway goes a lot further than Clark. The author's emphasis on the divisions within the American colonies at the time of the revolution and on the strength of Whig support for the Americans in England is refreshing. Hopefully "The Cousins' Wars" Atlantic perspective will inspire more English historians to escape from their increasingly narrow pedantic anti-Whig history which has drained the subject of so much of its meaning and interest - and which can by now be clearly seen to be a dead end. And it's nice that the author recognises that Anglo-America also includes Canada, Australia and New Zealand, which together with the UK-Ireland and the USA form a natural community of countries with shared traditions and origins. Time for the Crown to be dumped and all the "Anglo-American" countries to work on closer links?
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47 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Peter Savage on February 25, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is a startling book in many ways. First, the author completely avoids the usual "generals and battles" approach to the trio of wars: The English Civil War, The American Revolution and The American Civil War. Instead, he painstakingly follows what he sees as the 'real story', the religious affinities and social aspirations of the patchwork societies of the time. And how the push-and-pull between groups that can loosely be characterized as puritans and cavaliers sparked each of these internecine conflicts. The detail and clarity of the analysis is remarkable, but then, Phillips is a political demographer and thinker of great weight, who usually confines himself to modern times. You'll never think about the origins of the US, the misfortunes of the Irish, or current affairs in the same way again. It deserves to be read in conjunction with Fred Anderson's "Cauldron Of War", which covers an element that Phillips doesn't spend much time on, the Seven Year's War (French & Indian War). "Cousins' War" is a virtual hymn to the stunning rise and success of the US and the UK, whose centripetal forces shaped the 20th Century. And will continue to be important long into this one. Don't hesitate to buy it!
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Leonard P. Bazelak on January 2, 2001
Format: Paperback
I just completed Keven Phillips book The Cousins Wars and found it both fascinating and difficult reading. It was fascinating because it demonstrated the importance of religion, politics, sectarianism, and economics in shaping the history of both America and Great Britain. The author persuasively argues the interrelationships between the English Civil War of the 1640s, the American Revolution, and our Civil War. He explains who are the losers and who the winners in this march of history. I was especially moved and disturbed by the facts he presented vis-a-vis England and Ireland, the latter being one of the losers. Oliver Cromwell's invasion, the famine, the lack of English support for industrial growth in Ireland all allowed England to almost destroy the Irish people. Much of the motivation for this was religious--the fear of Popish plots and invasions by Catholic forces. Other losers were blacks and native Americans. The winners were those captains of industry who combined Yankee imperialism with religious ferver. It was difficult reading the book because of the many factions who shaped our history. It was like reading about the Balkans. There are so many nuances within a given group that at times it was hard to separate the good guys from the bad guys. All in all this is an excellent book which adds immensely to our understanding of the British Empire and now our own.
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