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Wealth and Democracy: A Political History of the American Richby Kevin Phillips
Synopses & Reviews
For more than thirty years, Kevin Phillips' insight into American politics and economics has helped to make history as well as record it. His bestselling books, including The Emerging Republican Majority (1969) and The Politics of Rich and Poor (1990), have influenced presidential campaigns and changed the way America sees itself. Widely acknowledging Phillips as one of the nation's most perceptive thinkers, reviewers have called him a latter-day Nostradamus and our "modern Thomas Paine." Now, in the first major book of its kind since the 1930s, he turns his attention to the United States' history of great wealth and power, a sweeping cavalcade from the American Revolution to what he calls "the Second Gilded Age" at the turn of the twenty-first century.
The Second Gilded Age has been staggering enough in its concentration of wealth to dwarf the original Gilded Age a hundred years earlier. However, the tech crash and then the horrible events of September 11, 2001, pointed out that great riches are as vulnerable as they have ever been. In Wealth and Democracy, Kevin Phillips charts the ongoing American saga of great wealth–how it has been accumulated, its shifting sources, and its ups and downs over more than two centuries. He explores how the rich and politically powerful have frequently worked together to create or perpetuate privilege, often at the expense of the national interest and usually at the expense of the middle and lower classes.
With intriguing chapters on history and bold analysis of present-day America, Phillips illuminates the dangerous politics that go with excessive concentration of wealth. Profiling wealthy Americans–from Astor to Carnegie and Rockefeller to contemporary wealth holders–Phillips provides fascinating details about the peculiarly American ways of becoming and staying a multimillionaire. He exposes the subtle corruption spawned by a money culture and financial power, evident in economic philosophy, tax favoritism, and selective bailouts in the name of free enterprise, economic stimulus, and national security.
Finally, Wealth and Democracy turns to the history of Britain and other leading world economic powers to examine the symptoms that signaled their declines–speculative finance, mounting international debt, record wealth, income polarization, and disgruntled politics–signs that we recognize in America at the start of the twenty-first century. In a time of national crisis, Phillips worries that the growing parallels suggest the tide may already be turning for us all.
From the eBook edition.
"[Phillips's] sense of moral outrage over this fundamentally undemocratic gulf...is well placed and effective....Sturdy economic history with a heavy dash of social criticism — and, as many conservative critics have said before of Phillips, excellent ammunition for liberals." Kirkus Reviews
"The figures on the financial worth of famous American aristocrats through the years are impressive." David Siegfried, Booklist
The bestselling author of The Politics of Rich and Poor now turns his insight toward the hidden history of the American rich, from the nation's founding through the present day, to reveal a political pattern that debunks our country's false promise of a fair shake for everyone.
The author of The Politics of Rich and Poor explores the history of the American rich, from the founding of the nation to the present day, exposing a detrimental political pattern that has hindered the democratic process and profoundly impacted our nation's economy.
About the Author
KEVIN PHILLIPS has been a political and economic commentator for more than three decades. He is currently a regular contributor to the Los Angeles Times and National Public Radio, and also writes for Harper’s Magazine and Time. The author of nine other books, most recently The Cousins’ Wars, he lives in Litchfield, Connecticut.
Table of Contents
pt. 1. The great waves of American wealth — 1. The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries : from privateersmen to robber barons — 2. Serious money : the three twentieth-century wealth explosions — 3. Millennial plutographics : American fortunes and misfortunes at the turn of the century — pt. 2. The origins, evolutions, and engines of wealth : government, global leadership, and technology — 4. The world is our oyster : the transformation of leading world economic powers — 5. Friends in high places : government, political influence, and wealth — 6. Technology and the uncertain foundations of Anglo-American wealth — pt. 3. Wealth and democracy : the rhythm of politics and confrontation — 7. Wealth and politics in the United States — 8. Wealth, money-culture ethics, and corruption — 9. The cup always runneth over : greed, speculative bubbles, and reform — 10. Great economic power decline and the politics of resentment — pt. 4. Thinking ahead — Afterword : wealth and democracy : the United States and the new century.
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