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American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune, and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush
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Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 0670032646
ISBN-13: 9780670032648
Publisher: Viking Adult
Release Date: January, 2004
Length: 416 Pages
Weight: 1.4 pounds
Dimensions: 9.2 X 6.3 X 1.6 inches
Language: English

American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune, and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush

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Paraphrasing a passage from Machiavelli's The Prince, Kevin Phillips writes, "a ruler can ignore the mob and devote himself to the interests of the ruling class, gulling the inert majority who constitute the ruled." He then says, "Borgia references aside, 21st-century American readers of The Prince may feel that they have stumble...
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Customer Reviews

  we need to know more about the people we elect

For those of you one star reviewers that claim that this is just a bunch of lies, go check out his facts. I easily found many of them by just Google searching, etc. What he has done with this book has put it all together so that we have it displayed in one book. This is an important book in that it does a wonderful job of showing us how the Bush family became so prominent and powerful and why it is not in the best interest of this country to have any one family, no matter who it is, in control of so much power. After reading this book it is abundantly clear to me that we, the people, need to look very closely at the people we vote for and those that they represent, again, regardless of party. Don't just believe what the politicians tell us, look to see what they have actually done to support the issues they say they support.

This is one of the best books out right now and I encourage any of you that are interested in our country and the history of the family that has become so prominent in our government and how they got to that point. This is a book written by a Republican who cares about our country. It is for all of us regardless of our party affiliation.

  Not merely about the Bushes, but about the nation as a whole

I have to admit by being completely surprised by this book. From the title and from reading the dust jacket, it sounded a tad conspiratorial to me, as if it were trying to force a template on history that wasn't there. But Phillips's case about the worldview that the Bush and Walker families generated that determined the policies and points of view and values of both George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush is close to overwhelming. I expected going into the book that it would be mildly informative; coming out, I have to say that no book that I have read on either of the Bushes (and I have at this point read pretty all of them) has been as informative and as full of insight as this one.

It is essential to stress two things. First, unlike some of the one star reviewers who obviously haven't cracked the book, Phillips means this as a warning against all political dynasties, which was, in fact, a major concern of the Founding Fathers. They were terrified of political families whose influence would extend from one generation to another. And this fear persisted well into the 19th century. Anyone doubting this should read a good biography of John Quincy Adams. Phillips points out early in the book that the Kennedy family was a bit of a dynasty (and would have been one for certain had Robert F. Kennedy not been assassinated in 1968), and he acknowledges that if Hillary Clinton were to run and win in 2008 that would also constitute a dynasty. His decision to focus on the Bush/Walker family derives from the fact that they in fact have had two presidencies in less than a decade, as well as other members of the family holding other political positions (Preston Bush was a U.S. Senator and Jeb Bush a governor). Second, this book is an exploration of many of the ills of the political system. The faults and flaws are not tied merely to the personalities of Bush 41 and Bush 43, but are systemic and run across the political spectrum, and across the political spectrum. Put simply, the problem is the dominance of the industrial-military complex that Eisenhower tried to warn us against (though Phillips would characterize it as the industrial-military-investment-energy-secret service complex). In "Who is an Author?" Michel Foucault argued that the author was a nexus through which all of society produced a book. In a sense, Bush 41 and Bush 43 are merely conduits through which the great conglomerate that Phillips describes with such clarity makes concrete its goals. Even if Bush 43 is defeated in 2004, this complex is not going to go away. Bush is part of the problem, but merely a part.

The power of the book derives from the deep background he provides of the founders of the Bush/Walker dynasty. Ironically, although two Bushes have become president, the real founding of the family came on the Walker side. George Herbert Walker, Bush 41's maternal grandfather, is the Joseph Kennedy of the Walker/Bush clan. Every indication is that Preston Bush, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush are marginally gifted individuals, with no real abilities of their own, who have managed to be successful because of the mass of extraordinarily high-level connections established by George Herbert Walker. It was through Walker that the two families became allied with many of the most powerful individuals in 20th century American life, connections that Bush 41 and Bush 43 have exploited over and over and over again. I had read before about key individuals who had assisted, say, Bush 43 in ventures like Arbusto or Bush 41 in the Zapata oil operations, but reading of the individuals who would step is with enormous investments meant little to me. But those investors were without exception individuals who had become aligned with the family through George Herbert Walker. These are classic instances of what is known as crony capitalism, which has been key to the ascent of both Bushes to the White House.

Phillips does a magnificent job at detailing the family connections to the investment world, the world of oil and energy, to the Middle East (extending back not merely to the first president, but to George Herbert Walker and his massive business ties to the region in the 1920s and thereafter), and (largely through their Yale connections and through Walker's business ties) to the intelligence community, and especially the CIA. Most disturbing is the way he describes the family's enormously circumscribed view of economics. Essentially, the family knows nothing of business or economics outside the narrow purview of investment (even their connections with oil and energy has been on the investment side). They have little knowledge or contact with industry or small business or, really, any aspect of the economy outside of investing. Therefore, the family assumption is that if you take care of investors, you have taken care of the only thing in an economy that matters. If investors are doing well, you needn't pay direct attention to any other facet of the economy, like jobs or manufacturing capacity. Although many economists are deeply concerned about the current state of the U.S. economy (with gigantic deficits, enormous debt to nations like China, and continued employment difficulties), from the narrow view of the Bushes, things are good because they have taken care of the investment class.

I heartily recommend this book to anyone concerned with the current state of politics in America. It is not, as I said, merely a book on the Bushes, but on many of the things truly wrong today in America. Essential reading.

  Detailed, Documented and Devastating

A devastating history of four generations of Bushes and Walkers, Phillips' book is also a scholarly examination of how that history forms the policy and decisions of George W. Bush.

Early in the book the prudish and moralistic Phillips comes down especially hard on President Clinton, the book suffers a little from a non-chronological approach from chapter to chapter, and there are so many quotes and so much documentation that it required me to take it slower than normal. Still, it remains very readable.

Even a political junkie will find a mountain of new information. BCCI, Halliburton, Harken, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Wall Street, fundamentalists (both Christian and Muslim), Carlyle, Enron, the CIA .... the list goes on and on. This family of mediocre - especially in the last two generations - people has made its fortune in money and power through contacts and secrecy, not merit. Gordon Geckos without the brains.

People speak of a Kennedy dynasty but, until now, not a Bush dynasty. Yet, as Phillips shows, the Bush dynasty is vastly more powerful, vastly more egotistical, vastly more clandestine and vastly more corrupt.

No other book brings together more information on the Bushes, and no other book exposes so much new information. It's truly devastating.

  Make Up Your Own Mind

I too first saw Kevin Phillips on C-Span discussing this book. Phillips is a lawyer and former aide to the Nixon White House, and is hardly a liberal flame-thrower. I was impressed by his level-headedness in reviewing, with a tinge of disappointment and anger, the history of the Bush family and its many years of backroom dealings with Saudia Arabia, the oil industry, and, incredibly, the Bin Laden family. (Don't forget, in the days immediately following 9-11, the ONLY commercial flights that were allowed to take off in the US were the planes carrying members of the Bin Laden family out of the country.)

This is not a shrill, one-note, Bush-bashing book, and Phillips does not appear to have an agenda or axe to grind. Accordingly, he comes across as exceedingly fair and objective. His history goes back several generations, is detailed and fully supported, and reveals the Bush family's long-standing ability to insinuate itself with, and do the bidding of, the monied class. As others, including Phillips himself, have mentioned, these are not new revelations - it is all public and available information. What seems to particularly gall Phillips is the mainstream media's laziness and lack of interest in pursuing any aspect of this tale.

Neither Al Frankin nor Ann Coulter, Phillips is to be commended for this book.

  Finally, a writer digs into the Bush sewer

After years of puff-pieces on the Bush family from lazy reporters just trying to meet deadline, Kevin Phillips stuns us all by gathering largely public information to show the lies and deceit of the Bush legacy. From the early days in the military industrial complex to the recent "election" to the presidency...lazy reporters have let scandal after scandal, deal after deal...just slide.

If nothing else, this book shows our national press corps to be lazy elitists.