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.
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.
Introduction; 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; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.