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One Simple Idea: How Positive Thinking Reshaped Modern Lifeby Mitch Horowitz
Synopses & Reviews
From the millions-strong audiences of Oprah and The Secret to the mass-media ministries of evangelical figures like Joel Osteen and T. D. Jakes, to the motivational bestsellers and New Age seminars to the twelve-step programs and support groups of the recovery movement and to the rise of positive psychology and stress-reduction therapies, this idea — to think positively — is metaphysics morphed into mass belief. This is the biography of that belief.
No one has yet written a serious and broad-ranging treatment and history of the positive-thinking movement. Until now. For all its influence across popular culture, religion, politics, and medicine, this psycho-spiritual movement remains a maligned and misunderstood force in modern life. Its roots are unseen and its long-range impact is unacknowledged. It is often considered a cotton-candy theology for New Agers and self-help junkies. In response, One Simple Idea corrects several historical misconceptions about the positive-thinking movement and introduces us to a number of colorful and dramatic personalities, including Napoleon Hill and Norman Vincent Peale, whose books and influence have touched the lives of tens of millions across the world.
"When his family life collapsed during his teenage years, Horowitz, vice president and editor-in-chief at Penguin/Tarcher, wished, prayed, read Emerson and the Talmud, and clung to the hope that a better attitude could improve his situation. When his family's situation did improve, he grew to believe that his positive thinking had contributed and could continue to help steer him through rough waters. Taking the cue from his own experience, Horowitz offers a spell-binding survey of the evolution and persistence of positive thinking and its shaping of modern America, where its influence is felt in the messages of preachers T.D. Jakes and Joel Osteen, in Ronald Reagan's slogan 'nothing is impossible,' and in commercial taglines, such as Nike's 'Just Do It.' Horowitz's survey begins with 19th-century Maine clockmaker Phineas Quimby, who healed himself with a combination of vigorous physical activity and mind-over-matter techniques, before treating others, including the future Mary Baker Eddy. Horowitz then follows the trail from Eddy through figures like Prentice Mulford, who advocated the mind's 'wealth-building potential'; James Allen, who blended religion with motivational thought; friend-winner and people-influencer Dale Carnegie; and Alcoholics Anonymous founders Bill Wilson and Bob Smith. Horowitz, with an ear towards critics, cannily probes the roots of positive thinking through to modern science." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“Even those who are critical of the positive-thinking movement…are likely to agree that this is a well-researched, thoughtful, and frequently surprising history of the subject…the point is to educate and inform, and the author does that splendidly." Booklist
"A historically rich analysis of an idea that is older than many may think.” Kirkus
“This deftly crafted history will leave readers with a rich understanding of the subject and even some curiosity about its potential application to their own lives” Library Journal
“A tour de force recap of what is a bedrock philosophy, also known as ‘New Thought’ or even ‘New Age’ in some circles…One Simple Idea is a remarkable book.” The Washington Times
“Horowitz is a fluid writer....And like Ronald Reagan, he’s unembarrassed about the mystical side of positive thinking. Horowitz ends his book with a chapter titled ‘Does It Work?’ He says it does.” Businessweek
“Mitch Horowitz charts the long ascension of the mind-power movement…despite the mystical nature of many of its claims, the author contends, there is enough evidence that so-called New Thought philosophy is at least ‘a little bit true’ — and for believers, a little can go a long way.” Psychology Today
About the Author
Mitch Horowitz is the author One Simple Idea: How Positive Thinking Reshaped Modern Life (Crown, Jan 2014). His previous book, Occult America (Bantam), received the 2010 PEN Oakland/ Josephine Miles Award for literary excellence. Horowitz is vice-president and editor-in-chief at Tarcher/Penguin, the division of Penguin books dedicated to metaphysical literature. He frequently writes about and discusses alternative spirituality in the national media, including CBS Sunday Morning, Dateline NBC, All Things Considered, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, BoingBoing, Time.com, and CNN.com. Visit him at www.MitchHorowitz.com and on Twitter @MitchHorowitz. He and his wife raise two sons in New York City.
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