Secrets Of The Kingdom

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Overview

The presidency of George W. Bush contains, at its very heart, a fundamental paradox and apparent contradiction. On the one hand, this is the most outspokenly religious president in U.S. history — a man who claims to be called by God to lead our country. Yet at the same time, this is also the most secretive administration in U.S. history, displaying an intense preoccupation with information-control, an obsession with secrecy more extreme than the Nixon White House. The Secrets of the Kingdom is the first book to critically examine the complex relationship between faith and concealment in the Bush White House. The apparent contradiction between religion and secrecy in this administration, the book argues, is really only that - an apparent one. In fact, religion and secrecy not only co-existent in this White House, they are intimately intertwined. For both are, ultimately, about power — namely, the power that comes from the appeal to a divine authority, and the power that comes form the calculated control of valuable information. The result of this mix of religious fervor and obsessive secrecy has been an unprecedented assertion of executive power and defiance of public or congressional oversight. Ultimately, such a blending of religious faith and government secrecy has little in common with the model of democracy outlined in our Constitution; on the contrary, this is its very undoing.

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Editorial Reviews

Cathy Gutierrez
Impassioned and intrepid, Urban's new book takes a critical look at the Bush administration's hording of knowledge as a means of accumulating power. Arguing that there is an affinity between secret-keeping and the rhetoric of Christianity, Urban explores the erosion of citizens' rights at the juncture of policy and the media. By placing this administration in theoretical and historical context, this important work rises above a critique of current affairs to defend democracy against the politics of secrecy.
Harold Joseph Recinos
This powerful and truth-telling book makes a much needed contribution to broadening debate on religion and presidential power. Hugh Urban makes use of solid theory and in-depth analysis to explore the avowed faith and truth commitment of President Bush alongside the Bush administrations' secretive practices and aggressive pursuit of unaccountable executive power. This compellingly written work is a helpful guide for those trying to understand Bush's evangelical morality, imperialized presidency and undemocratic practices. This bold work is an important reminder that democratic values and critical citizenship must withstand nothing less than publicly accountable political leadership.
Charles T. Mathewes
This is the first serious and systematic attempt to understand the deep structures underlying the Bush Administration's controversial use of religious discourse and their quite radical use of secrecy. Urban offers so many arguments and proposals that readers are bound to dissent from some of them; but Urban is not after assent, but provocation and deeper understanding, and both of these his work provides. All interested in serious inquiry into the nature of the Bush Administration's politics—and the overall state of American politics—will have much to learn from this work.
Jason C. Bivins
Hugh Urban's The Secrets of the Kingdom is a fascinating study of the links between multiple strands of American conservatism coalescing during the Presidency of George W. Bush. Meditating on the interdependence of religion and secrecy broadly speaking, Urban traces this connection throughout the Bush administration while also using it to uncover influences as seemingly varied as Straussian political theory and Left Behind novels. This text is lively and engaging, expertly researched, and crisply argued. What is more impressive, though, is that in giving readers a new angle of vision onto American conservatism, Urban has also provided a welcome example of the kind of impassioned social criticism too seldom heard from academics.
Jonathan Malesic
Hugh Urban, a talented and tireless scholar of religious secrecy and power, here analyzes a small mountain of evidence that President Bush's brashly religious, insidiously secretive administration has wounded American democracy by concentrating tremendous power in the Executive Branch and suppressing the Legislative Branch's and informed citizens' capacities to check that power. The Secrets of the Kingdom leaves none of this president's rhetorical stones unturned in convincing the reader that the Bush Administration has expertly exploited religion and secrecy to lead the nation toward what Urban calls "the sorrows of empire."

But Urban's work in this book is not merely negative; the critic proves to be a hopeful citizen, too. Urban's compelling, accessible, and often infuriating presentation gives the public the intellectual framework we need to demand a more transparent and accountable Executive Branch.

Michael Barkun
Hugh Urban has written an unusually insightful, crisply argued, and abundantly documented analysis of the Bush administration's use of religion and secrecy. He demonstrates that these seemingly dissimilar elements are in fact closely interwoven strands. A devastating critique.
Paul Christopher Johnson
It is with flawless timing that Hugh Urban now applies his massive erudition on religious secret societies to piercing the wall of secrecy that long shielded the post-911 Bush regime. This book drills holes in that wall, and springs "leaks" of a different sort than the usual slimy revelations purposely siphoned out from within. Urban tunnels to the very foundations of this government's power-the way religiously framed secrecy, the "faith in the unseen," was used to at once shroud and ennoble both the regime's imperial aspirations abroad and its revolutionary gambits to restructure our nation from within. No work has dug as deep to decipher the intellectual sorcery and the secret rites from which this peculiarly dangerous version of theocratic power was, and still is, forged. Against it, Urban works magic of his own. He conjures in turn outrage and redemptive hope, and then arms readers with "the weapon of openness" to unmask and defrock the neo-cons' minions and turn back their unholy attacks.
December 2008 Journal of the American Academy of Religion
[Urban's] book is an important contribution that addresses issues of the highest priority; it deserves a wide readership.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780742552470
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/28/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 244
  • Product dimensions: 0.55 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 6.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Hugh B. Urban is associate professor of religious studies in the Department of Comparative Studies at Ohio State University.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Introduction: The Kingdom of Secrets: Religion, Secrecy and the Politics of Empire Chapter 2 Prodigal Son, American Moses: The Faith-Based Presidency of George W. Bush Chapter 3 No Need for Explanation: Generalized Secrecy and Unanswerable Lies Chapter 4 New American Century, New American Empire: Religion, Secrecy, and the Neoconservative Movement Chapter 5 Machiavelli Meets the Religious Right: Michael Ledeen and the Politics of Mass Manipulation Chapter 6 Never Say Lie: The Corporate Media and the Construction of the Bush Image Chapter 7 American Left Behind: Millenarian Dreams and the Sorrows of Empire Chapter 8 Conclusion: Rescuing Openness and "Moral Values" for a Post-Bushist Democracy

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