A hodgepodge of theocracy and occultism.

OCCULT AMERICA

THE SECRET HISTORY OF HOW MYSTICISM SHAPED OUR NATION

Haphazardly assembled history on the genesis of spirituality and mysticism and its impact on American culture.

Tarcher/Penguin editor in chief and metaphysical enthusiast Horowitz charts the movement of mystical philosophies from their origins in the late 1600s. He begins with young mystic Johannes Kelpius who fled his war-torn German homeland for America, a reputedly safe haven from Old World intolerance for free-thinking people like himself who believed in “breakaway faiths” such as Mormonism and Christian Science. But it was the faction known as the “occult” that most closely unified radical communitarians like Kelpius. Seeking to identify the “mystical doorways of realization and secret ways of knowing,” Horowitz asserts that occultism brought forth a revolutionized thought process but concurrently generated a newfound fear in the unseen and the unknown among nonbelievers. The Shakers, having laid ground in central and western New York State in the late 1700s, created a sanctuary for folk religions and their evangelism. Self-proclaimed prophets sought out angels to deliver divine guidance as the freemasonry brotherhood prospered alongside mesmerists and seers. This gave rise to the popularity of Mary Todd Lincoln and a host of politically fueled Spiritualists. The astounding sales of Ouija boards, the rise of the New Thought movement, media evangelist Frank B. Robinson’s faith sensation Psychiana and New Age psychic healer Edgar Cayce all precipitated the negative criticism occultism received as it was blamed for everything from world conspiracy theories to Nazi fascism. Horowitz confines his research to decades far removed from contemporary times; those interested in the role of modern mysticism should look elsewhere. Though occasionally intriguing, the disorganized dissemination of information amounts to a mishmash of dates and occurrences within chapters rather than a uniform chronicle.

A hodgepodge of theocracy and occultism.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-553-80675-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Bantam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2009

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An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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  • Rolling Stone & Kirkus' Best Music Books of 2020

OPEN BOOK

The debut memoir from the pop and fashion star.

Early on, Simpson describes the book she didn’t write: “a motivational manual telling you how to live your best life.” Though having committed to the lucrative deal years before, she “walked away,” fearing any sort of self-help advice she might give would be hypocritical. Outwardly, Simpson was at the peak of her success, with her fashion line generating “one billion dollars in annual sales.” However, anxiety was getting the better of her, and she admits she’d become a “feelings addict,” just needing “enough noise to distract me from the pain I’d been avoiding since childhood. The demons of traumatic abuse that refused to let me sleep at night—Tylenol PM at age twelve, red wine and Ambien as a grown, scared woman. Those same demons who perched on my shoulder, and when they saw a man as dark as them, leaned in to my ear to whisper, ‘Just give him your light. See if it saves him…’ ” On Halloween 2017, Simpson hit rock bottom, and, with the intervention of her devoted friends and husband, began to address her addictions and underlying fears. In this readable but overlong narrative, the author traces her childhood as a Baptist preacher’s daughter moving 18 times before she “hit fifth grade,” and follows her remarkable rise to fame as a singer. She reveals the psychological trauma resulting from years of sexual abuse by a family friend, experiences that drew her repeatedly into bad relationships with men, most publicly with ex-husband Nick Lachey. Admitting that she was attracted to the validating power of an audience, Simpson analyzes how her failings and triumphs have enabled her to take control of her life, even as she was hounded by the press and various music and movie executives about her weight. Simpson’s memoir contains plenty of personal and professional moments for fans to savor. One of Kirkus and Rolling Stone’s Best Music Books of 2020.

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289996-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020

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Honest messages from one of America's best known women.

WHAT I KNOW FOR SURE

A compilation of advice from the Queen of All Media.

After writing a column for 14 years titled “What I Know For Sure” for O, The Oprah Winfrey Magazine, Winfrey brings together the highlights into one gift-ready collection. Grouped into themes like Joy, Resilience, Connection, Gratitude, Possibility, Awe, Clarity and Power, each short essay is the distilled thought of a woman who has taken the time to contemplate her life’s journey thus far. Whether she is discussing traveling across the country with her good friend, Gayle, the life she shares with her dogs or building a fire in the fireplace, Winfrey takes each moment and finds the good in it, takes pride in having lived it and embraces the message she’s received from that particular time. Through her actions and her words, she shows readers how she's turned potentially negative moments into life-enhancing experiences, how she's found bliss in simple pleasures like a perfectly ripe peach, and how she's overcome social anxiety to become part of a bigger community. She discusses the yo-yo dieting, exercise and calorie counting she endured for almost two decades as she tried to modify her physical body into something it was not meant to be, and how one day she decided she needed to be grateful for each and every body part: "This is the body you've been given—love what you've got." Since all of the sections are brief and many of the essays are only a couple paragraphs long—and many members of the target audience will have already read them in the magazine—they are best digested in short segments in order to absorb Winfrey's positive and joyful but repetitive message. The book also features a new introduction by the author.

Honest messages from one of America's best known women.

Pub Date: Sept. 2, 2014

ISBN: 978-1250054050

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Flatiron View Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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