American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21stC entury [NOOK Book]


An explosive examination of the coalition of forces that threatens the nation, from the bestselling author of American Dynasty

In his two most recent bestselling books, American Dynasty and Wealth and Democracy, Kevin Phillips established himself as a powerful critic of the political and economic forces that rule—and imperil—the United States, tracing the ever more alarming path of the emerging Republican majority’s rise to power. Now Phillips takes an uncompromising view of the...

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American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21stC entury

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An explosive examination of the coalition of forces that threatens the nation, from the bestselling author of American Dynasty

In his two most recent bestselling books, American Dynasty and Wealth and Democracy, Kevin Phillips established himself as a powerful critic of the political and economic forces that rule—and imperil—the United States, tracing the ever more alarming path of the emerging Republican majority’s rise to power. Now Phillips takes an uncompromising view of the current age of global overreach, fundamentalist religion, diminishing resources, and ballooning debt under the GOP majority. With an eye to the past and a searing vision of the future, Phillips confirms what too many Americans are still unwilling to admit about the depth of our misgovernment.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781101218846
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/21/2006
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 512
  • Sales rank: 748,429
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Kevin Phillips

Kevin Phillips has been a political and economic commentator for more than three decades. A former White House strategist, he is a regular contributor to the Los Angeles Times and NPR and writes for Harper’s and Time. His books include New York Times bestsellers The Politics of Rich and Poor and Wealth and Democracy.

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Customer Reviews

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 27 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2006

    The Current Administration's Threatening Triumvirate Lucidly Presented with Facts and Sharp Analysis

    It appears Kevin Phillips and Reagan-era conservative Bruce Bartlett, who wrote the recently published 'Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy', have a lot in common - both are longtime, die-hard Republicans who have gradually become more vocal critics of their own party. Their reluctance and resulting denunciation are borne out of their obvious mistrust of the current administration, which espouses values that coalesce into a series of irreparable policies that will linger far longer than Bush's tenure in the White House. A former Republican strategist, Phillips is the one who wrote the blistering intergenerational biography of the Bush family with 2004's 'American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune, and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush'. His tendency toward fact-finding remains consistent with this book, but this time, his scope is much broader than the power of a dynastic influence. The author systematically categorizes the triumvirate of forces that he sees are decimating the possibility of long-term economic recovery in this country. The first is our intractable reliance on oil, a dependency so entrenched in our daily lives that the Middle East holds court over us with their every political upheaval. Although the Bush administration claims the Iraq war is not about oil, Phillips does a meticulous job in delineating how it is completely about oil and how this represents a broader historical pattern of laying claim to energy resources not within our borders. The second force is the red and blue state landscape that has polarized the citizenry to the point where influential voting blocks are mobilizing based upon value-based judgments. Phillips illustrates how the ascendancy of fundamentalist religion is not a new phenomenon to the U.S., nor have there have been examples in our history which support a long lasting impact of religion-fueled politics on our government. In the most interesting part of his comprehensive book, he goes further with the current geopolitical tensions at work, specifically how the divide between North and South is as pertinent today as it was during the Civil War and that in fact, how that conflict was as much about religion as it was about emancipation. Much of the geographic analyses has been covered thoroughly in John Sperling's fascinating 2004 treatise, 'The Great Divide: Retro Vs. Metro States' and Thomas Frank's more scathing study of political disenfranchisement, 'What's the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America'. However, Phillips really makes the strongest case in illustrating how the current layout of blue and red states is really a compass for the varying levels of religious fervor in the country and that church attendance says more about political allegiances than current pundits are willing to admit openly. His arguments give credence to the indefatigable belief that many Southerners have in feeling they are the chosen ones who are committed to the idea of American imperialism as a means to spread their beliefs to a heathen-dominated world. At the same time, this is not a simple diatribe against the red state constituents as left-leaning liberals are not spared. Their inability to mobilize is put to task with almost as much criticality in Phillips' treatment. The third force Phillips discusses in great detail is what he labels the 'financialization' of the economy, in particular, the unprecedented scale of the national debt. Similar to the points raised by Bartlett in his book, Phillips provides further evidence of how the Bush administration has done little to restrain the growth of government in feeding into the first two factors and in turn, allowed the gap between the rich and everyone else to widen. This is the least surprising point raised by Phillips' book but still an essential topic to cover in order to paint the cohesive landscape he does here. Even though all roads lead to the Bush administ

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2014

    Leave christains alone

    What did we ever do to you?

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  • Posted July 16, 2012

    Refrigerators use only one quarter the energy as they did in 1970.

    Of course this book is not about refrigerators other than to posit the question: if refrigerator manufacturers have become so more energy efficient over the last 40 years, why hasn't the car industry? Of course the answer lies not in science, technology and/or engineering but in politics and the "Age of Disenlightenment" in which we are now engaged. American world hegemony has been preceded by that of Spain, Holland and Great Britain. What happened to those guys is now happening in America. And, yes, religion has played a part in America's decline. However, there is religion in the historical sense and there is an "American Theocracy" and both are now America's #1 export, or so American's think.

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  • Posted March 4, 2010


    Kevin Phillip's "American Theocracy" is a brillant analysis of contemporary politics and economics. He thoroughly discusses the recent trend in politics that is transforming the Republican party into a bastion of the Christian right and of fiscal conservatives who espouse outmoded economic theories. He also analyizes our country's over dependence on oil and the looming danger of continual government and private debt. He does so by providing historical evidence and by documenting numerous other reliable sources. This book is a wake up call to all Americans. We are truly entering into dangerous economic, political and social territory. In my view, it is important that we take measures now to make sure our country has a sound and secure footing for future generations. This book is an absolute must read!!!!

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  • Posted December 5, 2009

    Understanding where we are

    This is a great book to understand the issues and attitudes that undergird politics in the Obama Era as they were inherited from the Bush and Reagan administrations.
    It is clearly written with great style and deeply researched. Phillips never panders or writes what cannot be verified independently. Should be read by every student of American History and everyone interested in repairing and restoring the republic.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2008


    With the pervasive influence of the credit market industry, religious right, and oil industry in the American process, we are heading for a huge downfall, according to the prophetic economic and political commentator Kevin Phillips. His timely prose compares our desires for a latter-day Manifest Destiny in the Middle East--a mistake tried by the motherland, Britain--to an ambitious empirical notion of both overreach and grandiose notions that we are the 'chosen people.' Like his other book Wealth and Democracy, he singles out the threat of foreign banks and lenders destroying asset accreditation and ballooning our current-account deficit, especially to those of China--the next superpower if we do not stop our reckless ways. He singles out the peculiar nature of the religiosity, fierceness, and fecundity of the Scots-Irish, who seem to be the winners of the culture wars. He seems to recant in some ways of his Cousins Wars where he said that the traditional High Church Anglicans where the winners against Cromwell's lower churchers. Continuing on his religious and ethnic themes of politics, he notices that the Civil War culture of 'The Southernization of America' hasn't ended, much to the naiveties of liberal secularists. The winners, as he laments and grudgingly admires, are the profoundly tough and volatile culture of the Scots-Irish, who are among the finest warriors the world has ever seen. Also included among the losers of Anglo-America's sphere of influence, as he continues was Spain, France and the Netherlands, alongside the Irish, Native Americans, African Americans and the Germans. I would include the Mexicans, as well, because of the fact that many came from French and Spanish bloodlines. Of course, that may be an issue if immigration issues continue.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2007

    Superb account of the state of the USA

    This outstanding book is the best study of the current state of the USA. Kevin Phillips, the vastly experienced American political and economic commentator, depicts the USA¿s economic and religious interest-groups and their effects on the Republican coalition. For this paperback edition, he has written a brilliant 40-page introduction updating his 2006 analysis. He shows how deindustrialisation is destroying the US economy. The debt-driven finance, insurance and real estate sector accounts for 21% of US GDP, manufacturing for only 13%. 44% of all US corporate profits come from the finance sector, 10% from manufacturing. Household incomes have not risen since 2000. Wages are 62% of national income, compared to an average 73% in the late 1960s. He describes what he calls the `oil-national security complex¿ and its `100 years¿ oil war¿. The USA, with 200 million of the world¿s 520 million automobiles, defeats conservation and energy efficiency. The USA consumes a quarter of the world¿s energy, but has only 5% of its reserves. Since 1998, the USA has been importing more than half the petrol it uses. A barrel of oil cost $3 in 1970, $10 in 1986, $30 in 2002, $75 in 2007. Non-OPEC oil will peak in 2010. So the US state wants to secure oil supplies from the Middle East, but in a classic case of imperial overreach, its efforts are counter-productive. White House economic advisor Lawrence Lindsay said in September 2002, ¿the key issue is oil, and a regime change in Iraq would facilitate an increase in world oil so as to drive down prices.¿ Pre-war, Iraq produced 3.5 million barrels a day, now just 1.1 million, ¿U.S. mismanagement in Iraq having only aggravated the oil-supply and terrorist threats¿, as Phillips writes. The war has caused most of the recent $45-a-barrel rise. Phillips also studies the USA¿s rightwing religious fundamentalism ¿ a toxic brew of Biblical inerrancy and born-again evangelicalism. It claims that we live in the `end-times¿, when the defeat of the antichrist at Armageddon heralds the second coming. It is anti-women, anti-science, anti-modernism and anti-Enlightenment. It opposes sex education, women¿s rights, contraception, stem-cell research and abortion. He shows how successive US governments have indulged the soaring debt and credit industry. They encouraged reckless credit expansion, blowing up the ballooning national, international, business, financial and household debts. Low-interest rates led to the credit-card boom, to exotic mortgages, derivatives (which the speculator Warren Buffett called `financial weapons of mass destruction¿), hedge-funds and debt instruments. Buffett also said, ¿Hyperactive equity markets subvert rational capital allocation.¿ Americans now owe more than they make. Finance firms are debt collectors credit card companies offer to consolidate people¿s debts, but once the debtor is hooked, the company can raise interest rates to 20-30%. No wonder that in Bush¿s first term (2000-04), there were five million personal bankruptcies and by 2006, the USA¿s total debt was $40 trillion, 304% of GDP.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2007

    A reviewer

    You may not like what author Kevin Phillips says about President George W. Bush and America's current state. In fact, loyal Bush supporters may write off Phillips' views as paranoid left-wing poppycock, although he is a former Republican strategist who played a key role in Richard Nixon's 1968 presidential campaign. Here, Phillips unleashes a furious bare-knuckle assault on the Bush administration. He insists that it is setting up the U.S. for a mighty fall. Utilizing historical evidence to construct his case, Phillips postulates that the combination of America's crushing debt, dependence on foreign oil and conservative religious fanaticism is a recipe for disaster. Those who agree with Phillips' contention that 'history is likely to remember George W. Bush as one of America's most damaging two-term presidents' will be screaming 'I told you so!' as they traverse this tome. And yet, Bush backers should resist the temptation to dismiss Phillips completely. The book is heavily footnoted, but Phillips skillfully connects the dots, extracting information from hundreds of newspaper articles, scholarly journals and speeches to assemble a compelling presentation. Whether you are for Bush, against Bush or worried about the shape the U.S. is in, we recommend this well-researched, thought-provoking work.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 17, 2007

    Wake Up!!

    What was is that Jim Jones said just before he personally annihilated hundreds of his followers??? 'Drink the juice'? Was that it? My point is this: many Americans have certainly swallowed more than just the juice over the past six years. To A Greenspan: by the looks of your list of recommended readings it appears you can be counted among the minions of good, patriotic Americans who have bought what the Bushies are sellin'. This book presents a rational, cogent hypothesis of the state of the US today. Although Mr. Phillips points out things in his analysis that my be hard to accept, they are no less true. If we as Americans do not see our collective selves for what we have become, we are in big trouble. There is very little difference in the radical Christianity that is emerging in this country and radical Islam: both are exceedingly irrational and dangerous. We are a nation of debtors as well as a rapidly increasing debtor nation. Oil and gas are at the root of many of our--as well as the world's--problems. So, the author is not telling tales, he is speaking truth to power. Something we need more of.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2006


    He claims radical Christians are the threat, yet he ignores the real threat of radical Islam. He denies the 18 month bull market and economic success since the 2001 recession and 9/11.

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2006

    Read Part III First

    Despite the title, the parts on oil and the religious right are not the scariest. The part on financing shows how OPEC or the Red Chinese can sink our economy right now! (And WE set ourselves up). How real is it: the very day I finished the book my credit card got bundled into a resale package to people I didn't like the first time around (something covered in Part III). Especially if you're a conservative, part III needs reading.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2006

    Must Reading

    I listened to Kevin Phillips talk about his book and found him fascinating and a Moderate Republican. Now I have read it and believe it is outstanding and should be required reading for all Americans. I learned more about why the Right Wing Evangelical Christians are terrible for our Country. Mr. Phillips explains in detail why we went to war with Iraq (Oil), too many Radical Religious Christians and the incredible deficit George Bush has run up. Again, American Theocracy is simply one of the best and should be thanked by everyone.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2006

    Enthralling and revealing

    This book was a true education regarding the past and present U.S. hegemony and political manipulations regarding oil, national debt and the morbid and morose end-of-days Armageddon-loving section of our population. This was written by an ex-Republican strategist for Nixon, so for those who are dimissive of any argument or claim based on a person's political proclivities might find themselves more open-minded. If however, you are a reflexive Bush cheerleader type, you will not like the book at all. This book should be read to counter-balance the crony worshipping books written by the likes of Fred Barnes, etc. It certainly impacted me.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2006

    excellent, if a little disjointed

    Kevin Phillips' book is an excellent account of the impact and influence of oil in foreign policy, the enormous power of mindless religious belief and it's influence on domestic and foreign affairs and the perils of our federal, state and personal debt. Coming as it does from a conservative intellectual is all the more appealing to a left wing radical like me, since my opinions are being somewhat validated by Mr. Phillips. The book was somewhat disjointed in that it cites numerous facts to support the proposition (good), but also is a bit confusing. It doesn't always read smoothly. I found myself re-reading portions of the book just to get a handle on some of the points being made. All in all, any American, Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal should admire the intellectual honesty of a conservative intellectual who is saying things that any thinking person is likewise thinking. The influence of religion in America is making us a laughing stock around the world, given the mindless beliefs of so many millions of Americans. Our reputation (if we have one anymore) in the area of science is being shattered by the Know Nothings and those who would bring us back 1, 2 or 3 hundred years. The term used by Mr. Phillips regarding 'disenlightenment' is very true and very revealing. It is becoming almost a badge of honor to reject thinking, facts, knowledge and science. That is FRIGHTENING. The book is necessary reading given the times we live in.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2006

    Superlative Perspective On the Dangers Ahead!

    Author, advisor, and academic Kevin Phillips is a man of considerable intellect. In the late 1960s he penned a signal work (¿The Emerging Republican Majority¿) that outlined the ways in which the demographic changes in American society from a more northern industrial society to one more centered around what he referred to as the ¿Sunbelt¿, making some then-startling prognostications how such a shift in population and electoral votes would presage a long-term shift to more conservative and Republican political majorities for generations to come. Of course, being a conservative republican himself, he assumed that this meant greater fiscal responsibility, greater international savoir-faire, and greater social stability. As he admits in his latest volume, ¿American theocracy¿, that is hardly what has transpired in the intervening thirty five years. Instead, in a calm, clear, and well articulated tour of the territory with which he is so familiar, Phillips finds a the contemporary forms of conservative republican rule to be a landscape pocked by craters of ideological fervor, fiscal insanity, and unspeakable personal greed. In many ways, his broadside against the political right is all the more damning because it is not only from a true believer, but also from an academic who carefully documents and substantiates everything he cites in this scathing look at exactly where it is that the 21st century¿s form of Republican conservatism is leading us. Yet one does find here an attack so much on the present administration as it is a penetrating analysis of how we got to this point in terms of three frightening social and political trends, trends neither invented nor originated by the present administration. Phillips sees three interlocking tendencies as now reaching a critical point in defining and even threatening the future of the polity. First comes the rise of the corruptive influence of oil on both domestic and foreign policy next, the rise of an intolerant form of radical Christian doctrine into key areas of public life, and finally the incredibly irresponsible increase in the level of both public and private debt. Each of these three trends threatens to undermine the stability of the nation, and each in its own way is a key factor in the way that both the Executive branch and the Congress are becoming increasingly beholden to special interests and are increasingly undemocratic. Moreover, Phillips finds that the ways in which these trends are unfolding makes us substantially less likely and immensely less able to determine our own future in anything like a rational and progressive fashion. In many ways, this book represents a kind of sequel to his original tome in the sense that he once again provides the sort of broad structural perspective at the ways in which social, economic, and political change profoundly impact the future for both society at large and individuals in particular. In so detailing the powerful fashion in which these three powerful trends relate to each other and how they impact the nature of American society itself, how they tend to push the nation toward ever more limited and weaker versions of its former self, he also offers the reader an opportunity to understand the forces around us that demand public action now. This is a snapshot of America at a fateful crossroad, one in which we face some palpable dangers. With this thoughtful and thought-provoking book, we can no longer say no one has warned us. Enjoy!

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    Posted March 14, 2009

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    Posted August 10, 2011

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    Posted March 27, 2011

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    Posted December 15, 2008

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