Adam Morris – American Messiahs


A history with sweeping implications, American Messiahs challenges our previous misconceptions about “cult” leaders and their messianic power.

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.

Author: Adam Morris
Narrator: Joel Richards
Duration: 12 hours 17 minutes
Released: 19 Apr 2006
Publisher: HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books
Language: English

User Review:

crimson residential

As someone who has read extensively on the American Civil War I found H. W. Brands’ biography of Grant excellent. I have long thought of Grant as an unappreciated General in spite of the fact that I was taught in High School that he was a blundering and bloody fool who just happened to come to command the armies of the Republic at an opportune time. How wrong those teachers were.

The biography is complete and covers from his early childhood through his time at West Point, his participation in the Mexican War, his attempts to become a farmer, the Civil War, his time as President and the years after. Most of what I had previously read, including Grant’s own writings, covered only the period of the Civil War and the battles Grant had participated in. This book makes clear that Grant was an educated man, someone who was completely honest and of open mind. His aversion to slavery is made clear by his decision to free his slave when he left the slave owning state and his future decisions to never own another slave, his acceptance of the war as one to free the slaves and his willingness to use African-Americans as soldiers while many of his peers stubbornly resisted doing so. His intelligence and clear-headed thinking are made clear through his letters to his wife and friends as is what Shelby Foote, in his books on the Civil War, referred to as Grant’s “3 am courage”. A great man although flawed by his trusting nature.

An excellent read and highly recommended. While I have read several other histories/biographies by H. W. Brands, this one is the best of the lot and is excellently narrated by Stephen Hoye. If you have any interest in the American Civil War you would be well served to read this book.