American Faust

The Remarkable Life of John Murray Spear, Agitator for the Spirit Land
by John Benedict Buescher
University of Notre Dame Press, 2006

(378 pages, $30.00, hardcover)

reviewed by Anne Barbeau Gardiner

In The Remarkable Life of John Murray Spear, John Buescher draws on a vast array of primary sources to tell the riveting story of an American Faust, a Universalist minister who first gained recognition as a radical abolitionist, labor reformer, and opponent of the death penalty, but who in middle age became a medium for spirits he described as “entirely foreign to his own consciousness.”

A man who once refused to “be bound by party or by creed” but would preach . . .

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Anne Barbeau Gardiner is Professor Emerita of English at John Jay College of the City University of New York. She has published on Dryden, Milton, and Swift, as well as on Catholics of the 17th century.

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