Publicity: Peter Miller | Liveright Publishing Corp.

Inquiries: Jim Rutman | Sterling Lord Literistic


“Morris’s book does for American history what Norman Cohn’s The Pursuit of the Millennium did for pre-modern European history: Rather than accept that the United States is ever proudly marching forward toward progress, enlightenment, and democracy, American Messiahs makes plain that we have always been a nation waiting on the cusp of the Millennium, and that time and time again we’ve turned to the prophets shouting that the End is close….For all their terrible faults and tragic ends, the figures who are the subject of American Messiahs: False Prophets of a Damned Nation weren’t wrong in their initial critiques of American inequality—an inequality that will continue to outlast these momentary attempts to change the country’s course. As long as we have a monstrous system, we will also have to contend with these monsters on the margins trying to save us from it. The problem, after all, is right there in the subtitle to Morris’s book: These particular prophets may be false, but the nation is still damned.” The New Republic

“A fine writer of prose, with an instinctive feel for storytelling and a genius for quotation….Morris is onto something.”The New Yorker

“[A] lively history of messianic folk religion in the U.S. … Mr. Morris’s selection of prophets and cranks is representative rather than definitive. He does an admirable job of knitting their histories into a pleasantly overstuffed narrative that parallels the evolution of the U.S. itself. Taken as a whole, the story of the “revolutionary microsocieties” they founded forms a vivid history of American anxiety and hope.” The Wall Street Journal

“Scholars of American religious history will appreciate this meticulously crafted account.” —Library Journal

“A critical look at homegrown false prophets” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“Well paced and fascinating.” —The Deseret News

“American Messiahs is both important historically and exceptionally well-written—that's a rare combination. Cults have always flourished in America, and now, thanks to Adam Morris, readers will finally understand not just how, but why. I wish I'd had American Messiahs for reference when I was writing my own books.”

—Jeff Guinn, author of Manson and The Road to Jonestown

“Adam Morris demonstrates with impressive research and penetrating insight the true radicalism that animated so-called 'cult' movements in American history. American Messiahs is beautifully written, daringly sympathetic, and finally convincing.”

—Nikil Saval, author of Cubed: A Secret History of the Workplace

“Adam Morris has grasped an intimate and overlooked fact of our history: America’s development—particularly in areas of social progress and the politics of inclusion—is deeply and inexorably bound to mystical, messianic, and nontraditional religious movements. Only by understanding this influence, which Morris engagingly and vividly uncovers in American Messiahs, can we grasp who we are as a nation today, both in terms of our ideals and our nightmares.”

—Mitch Horowitz, PEN Award-winning author of Occult America and The Miracle Club

“American Messiahs is a really valuable contribution not just to the history of American religion, but to the nation’s social, cultural, and political story. Far from presenting these messianic figures as freakish oddities, Adam Morris shows persuasively how they have reflected the hopes, dreams and nightmares of particular eras. Repeatedly, we are struck by how very thin are the lines separating those so-called cult leaders from some mainstream political figures.”

—Philip Jenkins, author of Mystics and Messiahs: Cults and New Religions in American History

“In this beautifully written, thoroughly engaging book Adam Morris does more than portray a series of fascinating individuals. He also offers insights into the ways in which such ostensibly marginal figures embodied aspirations and anxieties central to American culture. Simultaneously delightful and sobering, American Messiahs is a work of deep research and wide appeal.”

—Joan Shelley Rubin, author of The Making of Middlebrow Culture and Songs of Ourselves: The Uses of Poetry in America

"It’s no secret that America was founded by a cult of radical religious extremists—at least from the point of view of the Church of England that had rejected them. But the influence of theocratic, utopian ideals and the eccentric, not to say cranky individuals who held them, on subsequent American society and politics, has not been as generally acknowledged. Adam Morris’ American Messiahs makes up for this lacunae admirably. From Father Divine and the Walla Walla Jesus, to the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing and the horror of Jonestown, Morris charts the remarkable careers and often mad ideas of the men and women who were accepted as agents of the holy and who claimed for themselves the unique status as voices of God. Anyone interested in the disturbing cocktail of politics and religion intoxicating many today, should read this compelling and insightful account of how that same beverage turned quite a few heads in the past."

—Gary Lachman, author Dark Star Rising: Magick and Power in the Age of Trump