three-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
10-May-June-2004
user_rating: 
0

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

A-AmericanDynastyWhat do George W. and the English Stuart and French Bourbon restorations have in common? According to Phillips, American government, like former European dynasties, has become a family business. Yet George W. and his father differ from other American dynasties such as the Adamses, Roosevelts, and Kennedys in that inheritance, not merit, now determines success. With ties to big oil corporations and the military-industrial complex, the wealthy Bush aristocracy perpetuates "crony capitalism" and undemocratic values. Tracing four generations of the Bush and Walker families, Phillips paints an "unflattering portrait of a great family."
Viking. 397 pages. $25.95.

Chicago Sun-Times 4 of 5 Stars
"...American Dynasty is not sensationalistic and its claims are historically verifiable. ... [It] is as depressing as it is brilliant and important." William O'Rourke

Oregonian 3.5 of 5 Stars
"His ability to reach into the past and his willingness to use words like 'dynasty' and 'restoration' to describe the Bush presidencies is only one reason why his analysis is unusual and worth reading." Jeff Baker

Seattle Times 3.5 of 5 Stars
"American Dynasty is awash in statistics, laced with political analysis and undergirded by painstakingly uncovered history." Mary Ann Gwinn

Boston Globe 3 of 5 Stars
"American Dynasty is a sprawling, repetitious account, apocalyptic in tone and laced with venom. ... Still, this is an important book, precisely because Phillips's analysis reaches well beyond any personal shortcomings of the Presidents Bush." Alexander Keyssar

SF Chronicle 3 of 5 Stars
"We are, Phillips suggests, curiously unfamiliar with this family that has produced two of our past three presidents, and such ignorance might ultimately diminish the ability of the American people to remain in control of their political system." Timothy Brown

NY Times 1.5 of 5 Stars
"The narrative of 'American Dynasty,' however, is so discursive, its ambitions so amorphous, that the book all too often devolves into a simple litany of accusations against the Bushes, some grounded in careful research, others based on little more than innuendo and speculation." Michiko Kakutani

Critical Summary

Phillips, a former strategist for Richard Nixon, combines intelligent political analysis with sensationalist lore. He tells juicy (and scary) stories about the Walkers' financial dealings with the Nazis and the Bushes' support of Saddam Hussein's regime in the 1980s. He also ties together the political and business threads that have created a Bush "dynasty," one marred by repeated conflicts of interest. At times, Phillips repeats fascinating but superfluous tidbits about the Bushes' Ivy League old boys club; at others, he succumbs to sensationalism and skims over differences between George W. and George H.W. His analogy to European dynasties might not work perfectly, but he does distinguish fact from fiction. This is not the book to read if you like Bush. If you don't, here's more to fuel the fire.