Phillips - American Theocracy

April 15, 2006

Kevin Phillips
American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century
New York, Viking, 2006

Kevin Phillips writes a lot of books, and it shows.

This is a tripartate narrative that first explains the relationship between the modern Republican party and oil, religion, and debt, and then combines the three into a indictment of the policies and coalitions that support George W. Bush.

It is one of those books that are very hard to read carefully. I found that when Phillips was writing about the things I knew nothing about, his story seemed to make sense. But when he wrote about material I knew well, I suddenly saw shallow research, a reliance on synecdote rather than analysis, and a presentation of the past that was, while not wrong, not complete either.

I have noticed this tendency in other big sweeping tales, and especially in big sweeping tales of the rise and fall of great powers.

As a result I found it a fun book to read, and a book that opens up some very interesting questions. But, because I can't buy the parts of the story that I know, I also can not quite buy the parts that I do not know.

I agree with Phillips that the modern Republican party is fundamentally dangerous because of the way that it combines theological correctness (I love that term!) to combine religious followers with big-business leaders to support ruinous financial structures and dangerously misconceived and mismanaged foreign policy.

I don't agree that Phillips book supports the accurate gut sense that it is based on.

Interesting and worth reading, but not compelling.

Posted by Red Ted at April 15, 2006 03:13 PM | TrackBack
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