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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.

Alex Granados joined The State of Things in July 2010. He got his start in radio as an intern for the show in 2005 and loved it so much that after trying his hand as a government reporter, reader liaison, features, copy and editorial page editor at a small newspaper in Manassas, Virginia, he returned to WUNC. Born in Baltimore but raised in Morgantown, West Virginia, Alex moved to Raleigh in time to do third grade twice and adjust to public school after having spent years in the sheltered confines of a Christian elementary education. Alex received a degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He also has a minor in philosophy, which basically means that he used to think he was really smart but realized he wasn’t in time to switch majors. Fishing, reading science fiction, watching crazy movies, writing bad short stories, and shooting pool are some of his favorite things to do. Alex still doesn’t know what he wants to be when he grows up, but he is holding out for astronaut.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.
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