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The Age of Charisma
Leaders, Followers, and Emotions in American Society, 1870–1940

  • Date Published: December 2016
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107114623


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About the Authors
  • An innovative examination of American society, culture, and politics, The Age of Charisma argues that the modern relationship between American leaders and followers grew out of a unique group of charismatic social movements prominent in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. Drawing on hundreds of letters and testimonials, Jeremy C. Young illustrates how 'personal magnetism' in public speaking shaped society by enabling a shift from emotionally-inaccessible leadership to emotionally-available leadership. This charismatic speaking style caused a rapid transformation in the leader-follower relationship, creating an emotional link between speakers and listeners, and the effects of this social transformation remain with us today. Young argues that, ultimately, charismatic movements enhanced American democracy by encouraging the personalization of leadership - creating a culture in which today's leaders appeal directly to Americans through mass media.

    • Identifies an emotional speaking style that dominated turn-of-the-century public discourse and explores how that style resonated with audiences
    • Emphasizes how emotional experience shapes large-scale historical trends, focusing on the link between individual agency and broad historical change
    • Challenges common assumptions about participation, recognizing the importance of sub-verbal cues and emotional affinities in shaping societies
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'With The Age of Charisma, Jeremy C. Young offers a richly suggestive, original, often brilliant and compelling history of how charisma stood at the center of American political culture from the 1880s to 1940. Fluidly written and wonderfully researched, it makes a significant contribution to our understanding of America's past. The scholarship is immensely sound, and I know of no book that comes close to contributing what Young does.' Daniel Horowitz, author of On the Cusp: Yale College Class of 1960 and a World on the Verge of Change

    'This important book offers an innovative analysis and interpretation of many of the main intellectual, social, political, and religious currents of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era. By providing such a clear, persuasive, and direct analytical framework, Young contributes new insights to what we know of the era, identifies some of the key agents of progressive change, and offers a clear and persuasive argument. The research behind this book is excellent and Young's writing is clear and succinct. In sum, this is an excellent book.' Matthew Avery Sutton, author of American Apocalypse: A History of Modern Evangelicalism

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    Product details

    • Date Published: December 2016
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107114623
    • length: 356 pages
    • dimensions: 236 x 160 x 25 mm
    • weight: 0.63kg
    • contains: 15 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Magnetic America: personal magnetism in American culture, 1870–1900
    2. Command performances: leaders and their technologies, 1890–1910
    3. Transformations: the follower experience, 1890–1920
    4. Competing visions: imagining charisma and social change, 1890–1910
    5. Changing society: the rise and fall of progressive charisma, 1910–20
    6. End of an age: from magnetism to mass communication, 1920–40

  • Author

    Jeremy C. Young, Dixie State University, Utah
    Jeremy C. Young is an assistant professor of history at Dixie State University, Utah. His writing has appeared in the Journal of Social History, the Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, Forest History Today, and a dozen newspapers including the Chicago Sun-Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Seattle Times.

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