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Anointed with Oil

How Christianity and Crude Made Modern America

Darren Dochuk



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Basic Books
06 August 2019
History; History of the Americas; Christianity; Petroleum & oil industries
Anointed with Oil is a groundbreaking new history of the United States that places the relationship between religious faith and oil together at the center of America's rise to global power in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. As prize-winning historian Darren Dochuk reveals, from the earliest discovery of oil in America during the Civil War, Americans saw oil as the nation's special blessing and its peculiar burden, the source of its prophetic mission in the world. Over the century that followed and down to the present day, the oil industry's leaders and its ordinary workers together fundamentally transformed American religion, business, and politics--boosting America's ascent as the preeminent global power, giving shape to modern evangelical Christianity, fueling the rise of the Republican Right, and setting the terms for today's political and environmental uncertainties.

Through extensive research in corporate, political, and community archives in the US and around the world, Dochuk brings to life a vast cast of characters: oil hunters, executives, powerbrokers, politicians, muckrakers, preachers, and ordinary oil patch residents. He profiles the generations of geologists and wildcat drillers who understood petroleum as a blessing from God, and the oil executives who developed an ideology of high-risk, high-reward entrepreneurialism by fusing notions of earthly dominion with trust in the supernatural. He examines how many oil workers and their families weathered the boom-bust economies of extraction zones like the Southwest by drawing closer to Christ. And he recounts how, after making their fortunes in big oil, families such as the Rockefellers constructed enormous philanthropies and sought to uplift America and the world according to Judeo-Christian values and a vision of well-ordered markets--even as other independent tycoons who embraced a more fervent wildcat religion and enthusiasm for laissez-faire capitalism eventually dethroned these centrists and helped to usher conservatives like Ronald Reagan and George Bush to victory.

Ranging from the Civil War to the present, from West Texas to Saudi Arabia to the Alberta Tar Sands, and from oil patch boomtowns to the White House, Anointed with Oil a sweeping, magisterial book that transforms how we understand modern America.
By:   Darren Dochuk
Imprint:   Basic Books
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 238mm,  Width: 156mm,  Spine: 56mm
Weight:   943g
ISBN:   9780465060863
ISBN 10:   0465060862
Pages:   688
Publication Date:   06 August 2019
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Darren Dochuk is associate professor of history at the University of Notre Dame. He is author of From Bible Belt to Sunbelt, which received the John H. Dunning Prize from the American Historical Association (best first or second book in American history) and the Ellis W. Hawley Prize from the Organization of American History (best book in post-Civil War political history), and was based on a dissertation that was awarded the Allan Nevins Prize from the Society of American Historians (best dissertation in American history). He has also edited several other books in American religious history. Born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta--Canada's oil capital--he now lives in South Bend, Indiana.

Reviews for Anointed with Oil: How Christianity and Crude Made Modern America

Fascinating...Anointed with Oil is a must-read for historians of the United States...By focusing on Christianity's relationship to oil, Dochuk unearths elements that diplomatic and economic historians have partly ignored or not yet combined...Oil and Christianity have never been separate threads of American history, and their synthesis gives clues about what we can expect in the future. --Energy Reporters [Dochuk] writes fluidly, and his lively volume traces the booms and busts of oil, taking us from the squalid boom towns and hellish drilling sites to the lavish executive suites...[He] makes a strong case that oil continues to shape American foreign policy and regulatory policy today. --Financial Times Meticulously researched...A sobering study of the tightly interwoven forces of capitalism and Christianity that shape American life. --Publishers Weekly Intriguing...A sweeping tale that uses both oil and faith to paint a panoramic portrait of post-Civil War American history. --Kirkus It is difficult to think of two things that have shaped American life more than God and black gold, yet they remain poorly understood, kept apart as separate topics. In this wonderfully crafted, highly original book, Darren Dochuk instead shows how religion and oil have always been closely related, how they have shaped each other --and how they have combined to create modern America itself. Beautifully written and deeply researched, Anointed with Oil is a remarkable work of history. --Andrew Preston, author of Sword of the Spirit, Shield of Faith: Religion in American War and Diplomacy Anointed With Oil is a brilliant analysis of a subject that has played such an outsize role in U.S. history that we've been unable to grasp it: the deep and complex intertwining of Christianity and the oil industry and the global implications of this alliance over time. Meticulously detailed and yet sweeping in scope, the book recasts the historical relationship between religion and market capitalism more broadly to show the absolute centrality of oil to Americans' ongoing belief in the nation's exceptionalism. Darren Dochuk writes with the skill of a novelist to bring this fascinating story to light, proving once again that he is one of the preeminent historians of U.S. religion in our time. --R. Marie Griffith, author of Moral Combat: How Sex Divided American Christians and Fractured American Politics No other work has explored with such brilliance how independent oilmen and their wildcat Christianity shaped the highs and lows of the American century. A tour de force of historical writing. --Gary Gerstle, author of Liberty and Coercion This is one of the best and most original books ever written about the marriage of capitalism and Christianity in America. In a thrilling narrative that stretches from John D. Rockefeller to the brothers Koch, Darren Dochuk reveals how oil producers, their workers, and their muckraking critics drew on their religious and spiritual creeds to justify or condemn this indispensable industry. Anointed With Oil is a scholarly masterpiece. --Michael Kazin, author of War Against War: The American Fight for Peace, 1914-1918 and professor of history, Georgetown University In this brilliant book, Darren Dochuk taps into the intertwined histories of oil and religion and comes away with fascinating new discoveries about the course of business, religion and politics in the United States. Grounded in deep research and bursting with soaring prose, Anointed with Oil is a must-read for anyone seeking to understand the origins of modern America. --Kevin M. Kruse, co-author of Fault Lines: A History of the United States since 1974

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