Or A Plan to Beat the Devil… A brilliant narrative history of Harmony, Robert Owen -the attempt to found an idealistic community in the town. And its miserable failure.
This is the story of two experiments in Idealism, under the leadership of two remarkable and very different men. George Rapp, along with his 800 followers from Germany came to the New World in 1815, and founded the town of Harmony in Indiana. Preparing for the imminent coming of Christ, they lived in piety, abstained from sexual relations and worked hard under Rapp’s leadership, holding all goods in common. Except, that is, from the profits in gold that Rapp horded under his blanket: the fruits of Harmony’s economic miracle.
In 1825 Rapp left for Germany, and sold the town to Robert Owen, British millionaire, mill owner and later, founder of the Co-operative Movement. Owen re-named the town New Harmony and changed the experiment to one where a system of communistic societies would become a model for the entire world. In just 5 years, New Harmony had sunk from being a crucible of great ideas to a fable about human inadequacy.
Both Owen and Rapp were ruthless achievers; inspired men whose social experiments throw up larger questions about how we interpret human nature. Rapp, a penniless peasant, persuaded 800 landless neighbours to follow him across an ocean. Owen invited the world to the little town on the Wabash. Rapp made a fortune, Owen lost one.
Thompson’s enormous storytelling abilities, wit and novelistic sensibilities are perfectly suited to this extraordinary tale of brave new world idealism, utopias eaten by worms, strong biographical narrative and a rich and colourful cast of characters.
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Praise for Brian Thompson’s writing:
‘Georgina Weldon is the kind of subject biographers dream about… But what makes Thompson’s extraordinarily accomplished book so marvellous is his ability to get inside her preposterous skin.’ Kathryn Hughes, Sunday Telegraph
‘Georgina Weldon’s life is a story so richly worth telling as to make the common run of biographies seem sadly dull. Elegant in style, at once sensational and substantial in content, this book is a surprise and a delight.’ Lucy Hughes-Hallet, Sunday Times
‘A rich slice of British imperial history in vivid close-up, with all its fascinating tangles of philanthropy, brutality, greed and self-deceit.’ Daily Telegraph
‘A wild romp through Victorian excess, veering between high adventure and a fine sense of Imperial ludicrousness. Great stuff.’ Matthew Kneale
‘Affectionate, poignant, shocking, often hilarious and wonderfully readable.’ Christopher Hudson, Daily Mail
‘British nineteenth-century imperial history in the beguiling, anecdotal manner of James Morris’s Pax Britannica trilogy.’ John Spurling, TLSThe Times:
'History as it should be written but isn't often enough: a great yarn, superbly told...shot through with big ideas'
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Book Description HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, 2004. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0007137389