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The State of Things

Occult America

Mitch Horowitz

The occult has been with America since the nation’s inception, thriving in the parlors of mediums, even reaching the White House. So says Mitch Horowitz in "Occult America: The Secret History of How Mysticism Shaped Our Nation" (Bantam/2009).

His book covers everything from the New York roots of Mormonism to Abraham Lincoln holding séances in the White House, and shows how the mainstream ideas behind things like the modern self-help movement have occult origins. Host Frank Stasio talks to Mitch Horowitz, editor-in-chief of the publishing group Tarcher/Penguin Books, about his book and the occult's influence on American culture.

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