AMERICAN DYNASTY by Kevin Phillips
Kirkus Star

AMERICAN DYNASTY

Aristocracy, Fortune, and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush

KIRKUS REVIEW

A corrupt dynasty founded on conquest, lies, and the certainty that ruler equals divine agent. Ancient China? Imperial Rome?

No, argues onetime Republican Party operative and latter-day liberal firebrand Phillips (William McKinley, p. 849, etc.): it’s now installed in Washington, by way of Connecticut and Texas. The power of the Bush dynasty, writes Phillips, extends for four generations, and its scions have been intimately involved in three of the 20th century’s chief growth industries: intelligence, energy, and national security. “If there are other families who have more fully epitomized and risen alongside the hundred-year emergence of the US military-industrial complex, the post-1945 national security state, and the 21st-century imperium,” he writes, “no one has identified them.” Fudging the truth, whether over the release of Iranian hostages or the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, is an essential skill in such an enterprise, Phillips argues, and the Bushes (and their Walker kin) are masters of deception. Clandestine skills, money laundering, and perhaps even election fixing also figure heavily on the family résumé, as do other talents essential to covert action but useless in nation building and humane governance. The latest Bush, the author suggests, is the most unsettling of the lot: bound up in the family’s trademark concerns, he also brings to the table a fundamentalist, millenarian view of history and a strong belief that his present station in life is divinely ordained. It is no small irony to discover that the majority of Muslims in the US voted for Dubya. It is also exceptionally meaningful that Bush’s mainstream core is made up of Bible-thumpers; Phillips characterizes the Bush coalition as “a narrowly Armageddon-believing electorate”—of no small significance to an administration bent on continued warfare in the Middle East (save Saudi Arabia, where its interests lie) in the name of good vs. evil.

What does the Bush Restoration mean for the rest of us? Stay tuned, but consult Phillips for some disturbing scenarios that bode ill for the future of good old-fashioned democracy.

Pub Date: Jan. 5th, 2004
ISBN: 0-670-03264-0
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 2003




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