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

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  1,823 ratings  ·  166 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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Community Reviews

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J
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
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Gwynneth
May 17, 2008 Gwynneth rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
Barry
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
matt

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
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Kevin Beary
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
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Mikey B.
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
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Danny
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
James
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Hadrian
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
...more
Gabrielle
Phenomenal book for those who have tried to understand how the country that was founded in rationalism and intelligence has fallen so far. Once upon a time, I couldn't believe we had a thousand years of darkness... But I see it happening here... in the United States. We are ridiculed elsewhere in countries where intellectualism is valued. My biggest positive AND negative is that it was written before Obama. At the time it was written, I doubt anyone would believe an African-American community or ...more
Ivonne Rovira
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.
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?

Erik
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
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
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Andrew
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
...more
Tim
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
Matt
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
...more
Michael
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
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
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Mark
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
Ronald
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
...more
Sam
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
Trent
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
...more
Bluenose
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
...more
Zeke Chase
In late March of 2013, Pat Robertson, televangelist founder of “The 700 Club”, self-described seer, multi-millionaire, former presidential candidate and known huckster said, “Ladies and gentlemen, beware of these scamsters, especially scamsters in religious garb, quoting the Bible – I mean, run from them. They're all over the place.” A surprising bit of honesty from the man.

Pat Robertson is a Dominionist. The denomination takes its name from Genesis, wherein God said “Be fruitful, and multiply,
...more
Barbara
Kevin Phillips sounds a wake-up call for Americans in this cautionary book about religion, oil, and consumerism. The chapters on religion were the first I read, and I was disappointed. Not all Christians believe that the Earth was created in 6,000 years (I certainly don't) yet that point is constantly hammered home by Phillips. Not all Christians are young-earth creationists. Some believe in evolution; some don't. Any scientific theory--be it evolution, gravity, or relativity--should be question ...more
Daniel
My biggest problem with this book is that it was repetitive to the point of dullness. It took me forever to plod through. It is broken up into three sections that deal with American problems. The first two - our dependency on foreign oil and on the religious right - were well-hashed arguments that didn't really shed new light on any one topic. Phillips parallels our course with that of other lost empires and makes a convincing case but he makes it over and over and over.
This book was published
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Stewart
This is one of the must-read books for an explanation as to why the United States has become what it is during the last 40 years. With historical examples from past centuries, Phillips examines the Religious Right, the petroleum-industrial complex, and this country's massive federal, corporate, and personal debt. Phillips is not a raving left-winger, but a Republican who no longer agrees with his party's values and who is seeing his country slide into decline.
"Conservative true believers will
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Matthew Whitten
On the whole, the author lays out a thoroughly researched and supported argument. Stylistically, it is written well and enjoyable. However, he does diverge into polemic at times, especially with respect to his discussion of evangelicalism. His analysis of evangelicalism betrays a lack of true scholarship into the subject. Evangelicalism is not as cohesive a movement as the author would make it out to be, i.e., at times he paints with too broad a brush. On the whole, though, the book is an excell ...more
Stevelvis
AMERICAN THEOCRACY was written by Kevin Phillips, himself a Republican and conservative who famously foretold the rise of the Republican Party back in the 1960s with his book The Emerging Republican Majority. With this book he first examines the role of oil and the rise and fall of major empires in the past 500 years, namely Spain, Holland, England, and the USA. Next he takes on the Armageddon inspired politics of Christian extremists and their strange marriage with Republicans and then relates ...more
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Bad Money: Reckless Finance, Failed Politics, and the Global Crisis of American Capitalism American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush Wealth and Democracy: A Political History of the American Rich 1775: A Good Year for Revolution The Cousins' Wars: Religion, Politics, and the Triumph of Anglo-America

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