The True Believer: Thoughts On The Nature Of Mass Movements is a 1951 social psychology book by Eric Hoffer that discusses the psychological causes of fanaticism.
The book analyzes and attempts to explain the motives of the various types of personalities that give rise to mass movements; why and how mass movements start, progress and end; and the similarities between them, whether religious, political, radical or reactionary. As examples, the book often refers to Communism, Fascism, National Socialism, Christianity, Protestantism, and Islam. Hoffer believes that mass movements are interchangeable, that adherents will often flip from one movement to another, and that the motivations for mass movements are interchangeable; that religious, nationalist and social movements, whether radical or reactionary, tend to attract the same type of followers, behave in the same way and use the same tactics, even when their stated goals or values differed.
A stevedore on the San Francisco docks in the 1940s, Eric Hoffer wrote philosophical treatises in his spare time while living in the railroad yards. The True Believer — the first and most famous of his books — was made into a bestseller when President Eisenhower cited it during one of the earliest television press conferences. Completely relevant and essential for understanding the world today, The True Believer is a visionary, highly provocative look into the mind of the fanatic and a penetrating study of how an individual becomes one.
This best-selling analysis of fanaticism and mass movements is an important addition to the field of sociology.
Eric Hoffer (July 25, 1902 – May 21, 1983) was an American moral and social philosopher. He was self-educated - worked in restaurants, as a migrant fieldworker, and as a gold prospector. After Pearl Harbor, he worked as a longshoreman in San Francisco for twenty-five years.
He was the author of ten books and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in February 1983. His first book, The True Believer, published in 1951, was widely recognized as a classic, receiving critical acclaim from both scholars and laymen, although Hoffer believed that his book The Ordeal of Change was his finest work. In 2001, the Eric Hoffer Award was established in his honor with permission granted by the Eric Hoffer Estate in 2005.
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