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Publisher's Summary

Americans have long had a fascination with the occult. Now, well-known writer and expert on the occult Mitch Horowitz presents a meticulously researched, compulsively readable history of the mystical and spiritual experience in our country. Focusing on the impact that the 19th-century movements of Freemasonry, Spiritualism, and transcendentalism have had on America, Horowitz portrays a colorful cast of characters as he explains the origins of the Ouija board, the political influence of Spiritualism on the Senate, and the source of the mysterious slogan on the back of the dollar bill.
©2009 Mitch Horowitz (P)2009 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
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Critic Reviews

"What a fascinating book. So it happens that another equally compelling take on our complicated national narrative lies just beneath the surface of things, not the grand procession of presidents, generals, and wars but something more hidden, more mysterious, but often no less revealing." (Ken Burns, award-winning documentary filmmaker)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Ray on 12-08-09

Exploring America's spiritualist roots

Those serious about understanding America and Americans will find Occult America a fascinating and indispensable addition to their libraries. This book fills in some puzzling blanks in the nation's history as it is usually told, exploring the realities and personalities behind the Burned-Over District, Mesmerism, the importation of Eastern philosophy, and even the Ouija Board. Horowitz argues convincingly that spiritualism and mysticism never served as mere sideshows as American society developed, but rather they shaped profoundly the way we think today.
The book will perhaps find its most appreciative audience among readers who, like me, are "not typically given to occult enthusiasms" (as the author describes one mid-20th century writer), yet hope to understand the origins of the New Age philosophies that now run through so much of American thinking. Listening to Occult America, I was repeatedly impressed at Horowitz's ability to recount the course and effects of spiritualism in America without falling into either of the side-by-side traps of open-minded credulity or of snooty dismissiveness. The writing is lively and witty, and Paul Michael Garcia's narration matches the style and the subject well.

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10 of 10 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By MarkM on 03-21-12

Fascinating Summary

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I would recommend this to friends because it summarizes the roots of the occult in America.

What did you like best about this story?

I saw the roots of what is now the occult. I also learned details that I had not know before.

Any additional comments?

I was curious to hear about the darker side of the occult as I know its out there and most likely related to what was discuss. I know there is a whole practice related to Aliester Crowley, which is only mentioned in passing in this book several times. There are other occult practices that have large followings as well that were not discussed and, again, most likely come out of what was discussed.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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