A groundbreaking new history of the United States, showing how Christian faith and the pursuit of petroleum fueled America's rise to global power and shaped today's political clashes
Anointed with Oil places religion and oil at the center of American history. As prize-winning historian Darren Dochuk reveals, from the earliest discovery of oil in America during the Civil War, citizens 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 debates.
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, this is a sweeping, magisterial book that transforms how we understand our nation's history.
Dochuk (From Bible Belt to Sun Belt), associate professor of history at University of Notre Dame, traces the dense web of interconnections between Christianity and the oil industry in America from the Civil War to the early 21st century in this excellent history. The author argues that passion for Christian mission and aggressive natural resource acquisition fueled America's political and economic dominance during the 20th century, helping naturalize American imperialism as God-ordained. After exploring the early days of oil extraction through the lives of prospectors and businessmen in the 19th century, Dochuk charts trust-busting and labor unrest in the oil industry alongside renewed Christian evangelical fundamentalism between the world wars, and considers the convergence of American oil and missionary interests in the Middle East and South America in the postwar era of Billy Graham and Prosperity Gospel evangelists. Throughout, Dochuk documents dissent and resistance to the brutal labor practices in and environmental devastation from the oil industry since its earliest days. Appendixes, notes, and a selected bibliography will help readers organize and refer to the plethora of people and corporations discussed. Meticulously researched, this is a sobering study of the tightly interwoven forces of capitalism and Christianity that shape American life.