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

3.85  ·  Rating Details ·  2,206 Ratings  ·  176 Reviews
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 alarmin ...more
Paperback, 462 pages
Published March 27th 2007 by Penguin Books (first published March 21st 2006)
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May 16, 2008 J rated it liked it
Every so often I get the craving to read political texts. The problem with this urge is that I have no interest in picking up the edited transcript/ghost written crap put out by Rush Limbaugh or Bill O’Reilly, the frankly embarrassing Dinesh D’Souza, or the “Look at me! Look at me! Look at MEEEE!” shrillness that passes for the corporeal form of Ann Coulter. That’s what’s on offer on the right side of the spectrum.

Too frequently when I read a lefty’s political book of any kind, I find it dully c
May 17, 2008 Gwynneth rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Thoughtful readers
Originally, this book was intended more for self-education on U.S. oil policy under the current president and its potential influence on the 2008 presidential elections, rather than for specific cemetery research. However, the author has built an historically informative and exhaustively researched “pyramid” comparing the rise and fall of several foundational empires (ancient Rome, Spain, the Dutch, Victorian & pre-1914 England that proved useful to this researcher) and detailing how those s ...more
Mar 11, 2009 Barry rated it it was amazing
Mr. Phillips is a republican who served in the Nixon administration. I am a life-long democrat; nevertheless, I enjoyed his measured comments when he spoke on Morning Edition on NPR. Like many people, I found Mr. Bush to be a less than insightful president, so I thought that a book by Mr. Phillips, critical of the Bush administration, would be an analysis by the loyal opposition. Not so. Like so many Americans who have tired of divisive political rhetoric, I wanted to read the opinions and ideas ...more
Feb 14, 2008 Matt rated it did not like it

I really wanted to let this book help me make the argument that I (and a ton of other liberals) want to make: that George Bush the second is a religious freak who has his eyes on oil control and who manipulated the south and the general electorate through "culture war" to rig and steal his way to the presidency.

And it did. But not on its own merits.

the problem is, its not written terribly well. Philips knows his facts but he doesn't seem to know what to do with them. He just kind of throws them
Mikey B.
Apr 23, 2013 Mikey B. rated it it was amazing
A powerful indictment (if sometimes strident) of the Bush administration presidencies (both father and son) and the Republican party as well. The author takes on three areas – oil, religion and the economy.

Religion permeates the other two. The tenants of Fundamentalism are uninterested in alternative sources of energy or depletion of oil reserves. They also are not concerned with economic collapse. Mr. Phillips was prescient on the impending economic collapse of 2008.

By gaining the complete adhe
A very troubling recognition of the symptoms of the disease that was Bush's America. Why oh why didn't more people read this sooner.

Does focus a bit on Bushian policies, but also on broader societal trends that started in the 1970s, and some earlier. Deepening worries of consumerism, fundamentalism, religion as intermediary in political issues, the greed for oil as political motivator. All of these topics are covered in greater detail in other books, but this one provides a solid overview of the
Ivonne Rovira
Jun 06, 2012 Ivonne Rovira rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm pretty well read; therefore, I wasn't surprised that I was familiar with much of what was in Kevin Phillips' latest book when it came to the American theocracy. What did surprise me was how much I learned about the history and politics of American oil and about the inner workings of Wall Street. I was flabbergasted!

American Theocracy is a hefty tome, but it's well worth reading. You'll look at tomorrow's newspaper headlines in a whole different light after reading this book.
Kevin Beary
Jan 24, 2009 Kevin Beary rated it really liked it
its incredible how accurately this book predicted the current economic realities we are currently experiencing , It was written over 3 years ago.
This book makes credible arguments that oil and religion have been the focus of our politics at the cost to the american people. I mean , we went into Iraq for Oil and we didn`t even get it ...the chinese won the first contract.
The direction and political decisions influenced by religion is staggering and scary.
A worthwhile and eye-opening read. T
Feb 25, 2008 Dan rated it really liked it
Done with the book, yet still digesting... Despite my anti-religious bent, I am not quite ready to take all of the authors views on religion at face-value... Does Tim LeHay really represent such a strong force in the emerging evangelical movement? Is the proportion of literalists really as dangerously high as Phillips suggests? I sure hope not. Regardless, this book was a facinating read and well worth the time. I must agree that the rapid fire statistics sometimes tried my attention, but the ov ...more
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Feb 20, 2016 AC rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics
Not his best book, perhaps. Something of an uneven collection of parts
Clif Hostetler
Phillips' articulates the concerns of many Americans that are troubled by the current blending of American religion and democracy. He moves on to assess the dangers oil diplomacy and excessive national and household debt. This book was written before the current home mortgage crises, but it clearly predicts that the real estate boom spurred by the Federal Reserve cannot continue. That now appears to be an easy prediction to make. So why weren't the bankers smart enough to anticipate it?

Jun 25, 2008 Erik rated it it was ok
This was given to me by my father. It's filled with brilliant insights into the looming pressence of religion and oil in our government's practices and backed up by endless research and examples throughout history. Bored me to tears, took me 2 months to read, and made me never want to read political non-fiction ever again. I rewarded myself after finishing it by reading "The Flanders Panel" by Arturo Perez-Reverte which was ever so satisfying.
James Hatton
Nov 18, 2014 James Hatton rated it really liked it
In the '80s and '90s I watched Kevin Phillips on The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour. He was a frequent commentator. I don't recall how I happened upon his book. When I read it I was surprised to find that someone else was having the same concerns I was having about American politics. I learned a lot from this book.

This book covers the increasing influence of extreme religious organizations and big money in American politics. It also covers the risks of a debt-base consumer economy. Non of these things
Terry L.
Feb 16, 2016 Terry L. rated it it was amazing
As long as the American people don't give into fear and intimidation, the Republican Party is dead. This author worked under the Nixon administration and has essentially connected the dots: dots of corruption and crony-capitalism coupled with fringe quasi-Christianity. The hegemony of the United States is over. At last count, our economy peaked in 1968 which was magnified by the pinnacle of oil production in 1970, capitulation in 1971 over abandoning Brent Woods while being accompanied by the hu ...more
Mark Geise
May 24, 2015 Mark Geise rated it really liked it
This is the second book of Phillips' that I've read, the first being Bad Money: Reckless Finance, Failed Politics, and the Global Crisis of American Capitalism. Phillips touches on many of the themes that he explores in Bad Money, specifically the dollar's position as the world's oil currency being a primary reason why it has maintained its value despite many faults emerging in the United States. American Theocracy focuses on three specific crises facing the contemporary United States: fanatical ...more
Mark Valentine
Mar 15, 2016 Mark Valentine rated it really liked it
What I liked about this book is Phillips' balance and conscientious reporting. After all, he is taking on a giant in American politics the conservative Christian right. I also like that he has the courage to report straight and without shades of favoritism. I was disconcerted to read of just how badly the yoke between conservative Christians, the oil corporations, and the political arm really is and I can see that it smacks of hypocrisy. Since the Bible mentions that one should not "be unequally ...more
Mark Valentine
Jan 17, 2016 Mark Valentine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What I liked about this book is Phillips' balance and conscientious reporting. After all, he is taking on a giant in American politics the conservative Christian right. I also like that he has the courage to report straight and without shades of favoritism. I was disconcerted to read of just how badly the yoke between conservative Christians, the oil corporations, and the political arm really is and I can see that it smacks of hypocrisy. Since the Bible mentions that one should not "be unequally ...more
Jan 22, 2016 Frank rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
American Theocracy is a sobering examination of the real possibility that the U.S. may be a fading power.

Citing the downfall of great societies in history, author Kevin Phillips argues that, due to our reliance on dwindling oil, unsustainable credit, and the imperious influence of radical religious politics, the U.S. is facing the possibility of its own collapse.

A thick book 14 both in terms of size and prose style 14 I don't know that everyone will have the stamina to get through American Theoc
Re Heubel
This is a book chocked full of big ideas. It is a fascinating read. Phillips starts the book with a discussion of the history of national power and economic power. Phillips argues that a powerful nation must have an abundant energy supply to build a nation and expand its empire. He cites the Dutch of the 1500's and 1600's who harnessed wind power with sailing ships and windmills. Next, he says the British Empire of the 19th-century and early 20th century was built on the energy source of coal an ...more
Nov 18, 2012 Andrew rated it it was amazing
What I liked:
I thought the over-arching hypothesis was spot on (oil, religious zealotry, and debt are threatening America's empire) and the historical evidence was well thought out. Phillips used a lot of graphs/poll data that demonstrated the trends he describes quite well. The data to support his "Dixie" mentality was especially interesting (using phone book businesses described as "Southern").

The section on debt was especially eye-opening. He pretty much nails the precipitating events leading
Aug 10, 2011 Tim added it
Thorough in research, expansive in scope, and prescient in it's predictions. This book should be required reading for Americans. Shows how the Republican party has pandered too, and been co-opted by the religious right, particularly the SBC. Goes into great detail the rise and falls of previous global hegemony's in Spain, the Netherlands and Britain, and how each failed to see the changes in the world, allowed manufacturing to leave their nations, moved toward finance as a basis of their economi ...more
Jun 19, 2011 Matt rated it really liked it
Oil, religion and debt are fueling our decline. Phillips, a former Republican strategist, doesn’t necessarily cover new ground with his book, but makes compelling arguments for our global position. Published about a year before the housing market crash, the book is prophetic enough to see the undermining of the U.S. economy by such instruments as derivatives and credit default swaps.

Repeatedly, Phillips looks to 15th century Spain, the 17th century Dutch Republic, 19th century British Empire and
Nov 04, 2011 Michael rated it liked it
The third of Phillips' sequence of indictments of the Republican Party and the Bush family in particular. Phillips wrote The Emerging Republican Majority in 1969, which presciently identified the coalition of religious Southerners, big-business types, and economic libertarians that led the Republicans to electoral dominance throughout our lifetimes. Since 2000 he's increasingly become a dour analyst of the moral and societal failings of the Republican Party, and this book identifies America's tr ...more
Tony duncan
Dec 20, 2008 Tony duncan rated it really liked it
This is an extremely researched book. This is avery good thing because it is well researched and there are so many interesting connections that are relevant to his thesis. Unfortunately there are so many that it was hard for even me to stay completely focused on all of them.

But here is a republican. An honest one that is interested in the truth who has looked at Amrican political history through three strands - Oil, religion, and finance, and comes away with a blistering critic of the republican
Feb 27, 2008 Mark rated it really liked it
Phillips tries his best to put together three parts of a complex puzzle that (perhaps if we are honest with ourselves) we have all wondered about: oil, religion and the Republican party. His book is chock full of information tying all three together. The book is divided into three parts: 1. Oil and American Supremecy, 2. Too Many Preachers, 3. Borrowed Prosperity, and while all three parts are excellent in themselves, I believe that a better job could have been done in tying them all together. A ...more
Jan 26, 2012 Ronald rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kevin Phillips unleashes a riveting indictment of the American capitalist oligarchy... and he knows where the bones are buried, as he himself is a fallen-away protagonist of the failed hypothesis of trickle-down wealth distribution.
He traces the historical trajectory of Every Empire, which is typically brought low by greedy global overreach, co-option by militant religionists, and profiteering resource exploitation. Hmmm, sounds like he's talking about US!

His tell-all tome should have been the
Oct 08, 2011 Sam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics
This starts out overtly critical of the Bush regime and the ties to oil, that can make it tough to get through even when you may agree with much of the claims. It feels too conspiratorial to be believed. It moves on the issues of the religious right and the increasing control they have won within the GOP. It finishes with a couple chapters on the increasing role of the financial industry in this country. I found myself checking the pub date to confirm that it indeed was printed prior to the fina ...more
Jan 05, 2011 Trent rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics, non-fiction
As the US lumbers into a new decade, burdened with ongoing financial turmoil, foreclosures, trade deficits, rising oil prices, and growing national debt, surprisingly few voices spoke out about the incipient crises before they became reality, or pieced together sufficient historical and present day data to present a strong case for what the future holds. In this well-researched work however, Kevin Phillips manages to do just that.

From oil dependence, the Iraq war, and the debacle of the Bush pre
I read this book in the summer and early fall of 2008 just as the credit markets were imploding and the Second Great Depression was dawning. After finishing the book I at least knew why it was happening. This didn’t make me feel any better about my lost wealth and I don’t know if it would have helped if I had read it when it was published in 2006. It’s certainly a lot scarier to read when Phillips’ predictions are fast becoming reality.

The title is a bit misleading and has more to do with Phill
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