Mania surrounding messianic prophets has defined the national
consciousness since the American Revolution. From Civil War veteran
and virulent anticapitalist Cyrus Teed, to the dapper and
overlooked civil rights pioneer Father Divine, to even the
megalomaniacal Jim Jones, these figures have routinely been
dismissed as dangerous and hysterical outliers. After years of
studying these emblematic figures, Adam Morris demonstrates that
messiahs are not just a classic trope of our national culture;
their visions are essential for understanding American history. As
Morris demonstrates, these charismatic, if flawed, would-be
prophets sought to expose and ameliorate deep social ills-such as
income inequality, gender conformity, and racial injustice.
Provocative and long overdue, this is the story of those who tried
to point the way toward an impossible "American Dream": men and
women who momentarily captured the imagination of a nation always
searching for salvation.
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