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American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century Hardcover – March 21, 2006

4.0 out of 5 stars 240 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The title of political analyst Phillips's latest book may overstate his case (in the text, he prefers the term "theocratic direction"), but his analysis likely will strike chords among those troubled by our current political moment. Phillips (American Dynasty) expounds upon historical parallels for each of his three subjects. In his section on "Oil and American Supremacy," for example, he points to Britain's post-WWI involvement in the Middle East as an analogy to Iraq, and in his section on radicalized religion, he warns of "the pitfalls of imperial Christian overreach from Rome to Britain." The five major measures of U.S. debt—from national to household—keep setting records, he observes in his section on "Borrowed Prosperity," and the real estate boom spurred by the Federal Reserve, he argues, cannot continue. Phillips identifies the escalating clout of the financial services industry and suggests that Americans should emulate policies in Asia that encourage savings and in Europe that encourage manufacturing. The lesson of the past, he warns, is that intractable national issues "generate weak and compromising politicians or zealous bumblers." A critic of the Bush family, Phillips sees little hope in Hillary Clinton. Expect him to make some provocative appearances on chat shows. (Mar.)
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From Booklist

This former Republican strategist has written several books on the relationship between wealth and politics in this country, including the New York Times best-sellers Politics of Rich and Poor (1990) and Wealth and Democracy (2002). Phillips' abiding theme is given a workout again in his new book, with his major thesis spelled out on the first page of the preface: three demons threaten the continued well-being of the U.S. These are our "reckless dependency on shrinking oil supplies," a "milieu of radicalized (and much too influential) religion," and a "reliance on borrowed money" (domestic and international debt, that is). His stiff--no harsh--words are aimed primarily at the Republican Party for allowing these three trends to have gotten out of control, but Democrats, without offering clear and tangible alternatives, are not let off the hook. The author's investigation into these three problems is set in a historical context as he posits the undeniable fact that all previous world economic powers have ultimately failed in continued strength (each one, however, believing "they were unique and that God was on their side"). Phillips is eloquent, absorbing, and frightening, and this book will follow its predecessors onto the best-seller lists. Brad Hooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 462 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult; First Edition edition (March 21, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067003486X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0067003480
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.5 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (240 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,107,621 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Kevin Phillips is one of the most widely read and acclaimed in this field. Of his many works, "The Emerging Republican

Majority" written 40 years ago in 1969, gives him the credibility, as well as his 13 other books since. "American Theocracy" discusses the 5 decades of growth many recent developments occurring in the US political, economic, religious and cultural realm in the GOP. He supports his points with lots of research and referencing.

Phillips states the GOP and US government are "a fusion of

petroleum-defined national security; a crusading, simplistic

Christianity; and a reckless credit-feeding financial complex."

At one time, the GOP was the party of stability, order, low taxes, low spending, and small government (in theory at least).

The author notes the transition of the GOP to what many others think and believe today: In 2006, it's over. The Republican party can never argue again that it's the party of low taxes and spending, and small government. The 'big-government GOP' began long before The G.W . Bush administration, but Bush 43 has greatly exacerbated to shift to big spending, big

government, conglomerate control, and the erosion of personal

liberties and freedom of speech. Today there is a Cult of Personality and a lack of critical thought and even disdain -- to the slightest questioning or criticism of American domestic and foreign policy: Bushbots. Federal bureaucratic interference in education with the "No Child Left Behind," Act, and the promulgation of the pseudo-scientific "Intelligent Design." The federal government's interference in the Schiavo case is another clear example of many, noted in "American Theocracy.
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Format: Hardcover
This is the kind of book that would have kept me up at night had I read it six or seven years ago. American Theocracy convincingly and chillingly compares the current situation in the U.S. to that during the beginning of the end of the Roman Empire, The British Empire, Hapsburg Spain, and the Dutch Republic. Scared yet?

Author Kevin Phillips comes up with a series of characteristics of what he called a "power already at its peak and starting to decline." The list includes a polarization of the society and widespread concern with cultural and economic decay; growing religious fervor and an increasingly close relationship between church and state; a rising commitment to faith over reason; growing government debt; and "hubris-driven national strategic and military overreach."

Jeez, open most days' newspaper and don't be surprised to find concrete examples of each of these points.

The point risks being lost amid all the white noise predicting doom and gloom of different sorts these days. No doubt most readers will find themselves a little more jaded to these sorts of prognostications than they would have been just a few years back.

But what separates Mr. Phillips from the pack (at least to some extent) is his curriculum vitae: he is the same Kevin Phillips who, as a Republican strategist in the 1960s, shattered the Democrat's "solid south" in his book The Emerging Republican Majority. Most political scientists credit the book with sowing the seeds that handed the Republicans the White House in every election since then that didn't feature a highly-intelligent southern governor on top of the Democratic ticket as a way to wrestle a few electoral votes away south of the Mason-Dixon line.

If Mr.
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Format: Hardcover
In my opinion Kevin Phillips understands the real problems facing America better than any other Republican in America. He is also the kind of Republican who has increasingly been marginalized in the take over of the party by the far left. By no stretch of the imagination is he a liberal (though unquestionably a host of Republicans who haven't read the book will write a review here proclaiming him a liberal), but more of a classic, pre-Reagan conservative in the Russell Kirk, Peter Viereck mode. Despite being a leftist myself, I have long found Phillips to be one of the most acute analysts of the genuine-as opposed to trumped up-problems afflicting American life. In WEALTH AND DEMOCRACY he wrote eloquently of the problems of the undue influence of the wealthy in our democracy as well as the extraordinary and dramatic growth of economic inequality over the past two and a half decades.

AMERICAN THEOCRACY may be Phillips's most important book yet. I was ecstatic when I found a copy this past weekend at a bookstore that broke the moratorium and put their copies out a few days early (bookstores-especially the big chains-often get copies of books to be released on a Tuesday late the previous week, and occasionally they will inadvertently put copies out) and spent the weekend reading it. Phillips explicitly states that his goal is to deal with three of the most pressing problems in American life today, problems that surpass terrorism as a real threat. These three problems are referred to in the subtitle and are dealt with in serial order, though because the problems are intertwined the discussions spill over into one another. The first problem is our dependence on oil and the degree to which it has shaped and determined our national priorities and policies.
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