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The Hidden History of American Oligarchy: Reclaiming Our Democracy from the Ruling Class Paperback – February 2, 2021
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From the Publisher
The Thom Hartmann Hidden History Series
The Hidden History Series includes ten paramount and timely books that break down the biggest obstacles of today, placing them in historic context and providing real, tangible calls to action both for individuals and society at large. Each book concisely addresses these pressing current issues and offers a set of solutions with “roadmaps” for individuals and communities to follow to create a more equitable and prosperous economy and a safer, more just society for all.
Thom lays out the ways in which inequality in America has shifted over the last 50 years and identify a handful of sensical, powerful solutions that address these issues at different levels, such as getting money out of politics, addressing social despair and economic inequality, strengthening democratic institutions of governance, and fighting fear.
|The Hidden History of Guns and the Second Amendment||The Hidden History of the Supreme Court and the Betrayal of America||The Hidden History of the War on Voting||The Hidden History of Monopolies||The Hidden History of American Oligarchy|
|The Hidden History Series||Thom Hartmann, the most popular progressive radio host in America and a New York Times bestselling author, looks at the real history of guns in America and what we can do to limit both their lethal impact and the power of the gun lobby.||“Hartmann delivers a full-throated indictment of the U.S. Supreme Court in this punchy polemic."—Publishers Weekly||"Hartmann’s history of voter suppression in America is necessary information given current news about voter registration purges and redistricting...a particularly timely topic for an election year…”—Booklist||“This is the most important, dynamic book on the cancers of monopoly by giant corporations written in our generation.”—from the foreword by Ralph Nader||This book looks at the real history of the corrupting influence of oligarchy in America—and how we can fight back.|
|The Hidden History of American Healthcare|
|Coming Soon||Hartmann offers a deep dive into the shameful history of American healthcare, showing how greed, racism, and oligarchic corruption led to the current “sickness for profit” system.|
“Thom Hartmann’s must-read new book is equally frightening and inspiring. It offers both a dire warning about the threat posed to our nation by the growing power of oligarchs and a prescription on how to save our nation from it.” —Dean Obeidallah, host of The Dean Obeidallah Show, SiriusXM Radio
“Thom Hartmann has written a chilling account of how far our nation has strayed from democracy and is slowly embracing oligarchy. His focus on possible remedies, however, is the chief virtue of this fine book.” —Dan Sisson, author of The American Revolution of 1800
“Thom Hartmann is America’s history teacher, a national treasure laying it out scary and clear: tyranny can happen here. Oligarchy’s choking democracy.” —Mimi Kennedy, actress, board member, Progressive Democrats of America
“For every American interested in protecting our democracy, everyone puzzled about how America came to the brink of authoritarian rule, and for all who enjoy a being educated and entertained by enthralling, eyeopening, riveting journey in U.S. history, the Hidden History of Oligarchy is a must read!” —Don Siegelman, former Governor of Alabama, author of Stealing Our Democracy
“Thom Hartmann shines a much-needed spotlight on the oligarchs’ brutal class war as it now crescendos in the Trump era. He makes clear that if we understand exactly what we’re up against, we can save our country, reject sociopathic greed and build an America that promotes shared prosperity.” —David Sirota, award-winning journalist and New York Times bestselling author
“I would gladly follow Thom Hartmann into hell. I'd be unafraid because with Thom there, I knew the Devil's minions couldn't touch me. I strongly cry huzzah for this latest course on teaching me what a Democracy is.” —Ed Asner
“This absolutely brilliant book is an empowering call to action, as well as a beautifully concise summary of the US’s historical battle to preserve democracy over repeated attempts by the oligarchy to create tyranny. A page-turning must read for all Americans at a time when tyranny’s claws are digging very deep.” —John Perkins, New York Times Bestselling Author
“Brilliantly illuminating of the reality of oligarchy in our past and our present and the imminent danger of oligarchy morphing into tyranny. On almost every page, I learned things that I should have known earlier as an American, but wasn't likely to find elsewhere. Urgently required reading if we are to advance toward democracy.” —Daniel Ellsberg,
About the Author
- Publisher : Berrett-Koehler Publishers (February 2, 2021)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 192 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1523091584
- ISBN-13 : 978-1523091584
- Item Weight : 7.7 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.06 x 0.56 x 7.06 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #45,587 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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There is no flowery talk or unnecessary digressions, Hartmann explains the hows and whys of what is going on in America politically and who or what is directing it.
The phrase "every American should be required to read this" is tossed around a lot these days. I see it in a lot of Amazon book reviews I've read, but in the case of "The Hidden History Of American Oligarchy" by Thom Hartmann I can't say it has ever been more true.
Buy this book. If you can afford it in Kindle and Audible format and follow along and mark up bookmarks and notes. This tome is full of information and will not condescend to you, insult you, or waste your time.
In order to save America, we Americans need to have parallel understanding and be on the same page describing where we are and where we need to go. Hartmann's book is a tactical manual for American citizenship. I cannot wait to buy and read the other two books by Thom Hartmann.
"The Hidden History Of American Oligarchy" by Thom Hartmann 5/5
A can't put down historical documentary of our past & possible future if we don't respond to
what Thom has so clearly. Another outstanding easy read from the talent of Thom Hartmann !
Oligarchy rises during periods of extreme wealth concentration when the very wealthy acquire excessive political power by buying influence with elected officials and winning control of the Supreme Court. Having accomplished that, oligarchs begin to deconstruct the administrative state – corrupting every agency of government, from those responsible for enforcing laws and court decisions, regulatory agencies, to control of currency and the economy.(Page2) Their aim is to destroy democracy and convert government and society into a vessel for their own self-interest. Researchers Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page demonstrated that the US ceased to be a functioning democracy by classical definitions sometime during the Reagan years and has been as Jimmy Carter said, an oligarchy, although they call it “economic-elite domination.” It was designated as oligarchy because citizens’ wants, and needs could not be translated into policy. (Page 43)
Hartmann, in his well-researched book, delineates three periods in American history where oligarchs were ascendant and on the verge of converting oligarchy into full blown tyranny. The first oligarchy in America arose in the regional South where a small aristocratic class of slave-owning plantation owners attempted to impose their system on the rest of the nation through secession and civil war. The second oligarchic phase was born in Gilded Age (1880-1930) America as a small group of robber barons accumulated massive wealth from the industrial revolution and dominated the economy and political life of the nation. The removal of the guardrails of democracy led to the Roaring Twenties where the rich got even richer. A uniquely American fascist movement was birthed that attempted a coup against President Franklin D. Roosevelt - barely averted by General Smedley Butler. The oligarchs’ rule collapsed with the coming Great Depression, which spawned mass citizen unrest and FDR’s New Deal reforms.
The third American oligarchy began in 1971 when Lewis Powell, an agent of tobacco oligarchs, laid out a plan in a famous memo to the US Chamber of Commerce for US oligarchs to take over the government and eliminate majority rule. By 1980, the plan had a firm foothold, and by the late 1990s, the oligarchs controlled most states, the entire Republican Party, and a portion of the Democratic Party. By 2005, oligarchic control of the executive branch was total, and under the Trump Administration, oligarchs and their representatives dominated every niche of government.(Page 3) Every single cabinet department and regulatory agency was corrupted. (Page 5)
Oligarchies are an unstable system of government – collapsing from internal rot; uprisings from their own people; or overreach as we saw from the Civil War. (Page 5) When they do not collapse, they often evolve into tyranny – a form of government that entirely abandons even the pretense of the rule of law and reigns through police-state terror. The Trump oligarchy was the logical outcome of the Powell memo and the Reagan presidency. (Page 6)
Oligarchy doesn’t arise out of nothing, neither do oligarchic tyrants. Both require an institutional infrastructure and plenty of people willing to violate laws, norms, constitutions, and the sanctity of institutions – to participate in the destruction of democracy in exchange for wealth, status, and power. (Page 15) For oligarchy to totally take down democracy, only three things are initially needed: (1) control of (or substantial influence over) a critical portion of the media (2) legalization of bribery of public officials so that oligarchy can achieve majority control of the legislative process (3) control of the most critical parts of the court system to influence legal processes. When the oligarchy is well established and the transition to tyranny begins, seizure of the executive branch and the formation of a police state burgeons, using massive surveillance and selective prosecution against those agitating for a return to democracy. (Page 22)
After oligarchic-sponsored Supreme Court justices gained majority on the court in the 1970s, by 5-4 decisions they handed down decisions (Buckley v. Valeo 1976, First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti 1978, and Citizen United in 2010) that legalized political bribery, which opened the door to oligarchic control of all three branches of government. By legalizing bribery of politicians, oligarchs were able to seize control of the nation. (Page 31) Those decisions unleashed a flood of money that kicked off the modern era of American oligarchy. (Page 32) The very nature of our republic has been under continuous oligarchic assault since the Reagan Revolution, reaching a head in the Trump Administration. (Page 44)
For tyranny to overcome a republic, it must first dismantle institutions of governance so it can replace them with its own tyranny-supporting people and systems. (Page 118) Over the past forty years, US oligarchs have embarked on a campaign, through think tanks, right-wing media, and massive PR efforts to convince average Americans that government is the cause, not the solution to the problems. (Page 40) Incremental changes over time prepare the soil for tyranny. Oligarchy strengthens until enough destruction of institutions, enough cynicism among the populace, and enough shift in wealth and power away from people to very wealthy oligarchs destroy the republic. (page 120) In every case, where nations slide into oligarchies, oligarchs took over because they were able to corrupt the media, then the politicians, then the political process and the government itself. (Page 131)
This is a well-researched and written book. It is easy to read and understand and is indispensable for understanding what has brought about the transformation of American society over the past forty years. Highly recommended, it is probably the best book available on the subject.