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CITIZEN PAT

THE EMPIRE GOD BUILT
Inside Pat Robertson's Media Machine
By Alec Foege
Wiley -- 242pp -- $24.95

Pat Robertson is known to most Americans as a charismatic figure on the right fringe of U.S. politics, a crusader out to empower what he has called ''the world's most persecuted minority'': fundamentalist Christians. From his electronic pulpit, Robertson built a political movement that fueled his own 1988 Presidential quest and then morphed into the Christian Coalition, a major power in the GOP.

But what is less well-known about Robertson is how he built a diverse, multibillion-dollar business empire by adeptly adapting to the latest communications technologies. From a tiny UHF station in Portsmouth, Va., Robertson has amassed a corporate portfolio that includes cable TV's Family Channel, 1,400-student Regent University, a web of Christian social service organizations, and MTM Productions, maker of The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

In The Empire God Built, author Alec Foege explains how Robertson has used his enterprises to further his political agenda. Foege, a Rolling Stone contributing editor, is not a fan of Robertson's brand of politics, yet he is awed by the man's entrepreneurial skill.

The author's style is breezy, yet evocative. In comparing the business successes of Robertson and pop icon Madonna, Foege notes that ''Robertson wears his point of view like Madonna wears her undergarments--on top of everything else like a suit of armor.''

If a reader can handle such irreverence--and the author's political bias--The Empire God Built will inform and entertain liberal elitists and Bible-quoting conservatives alike.

By Richard S. Dunham


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