Everyone knew him then: Bruce Barton was a cultural icon. Two-thirds of American history textbooks today cite him to illustrate the 1920s adoration of the business mentality that then dominated American culture. Historians quote from his enormous best-seller, The Man Nobody Knows, in which Barton called Jesus the "founder of modern business" who "picked up twelve men from the bottom ranks of business and forged them into an organization that conquered the world." But few know Bruce Barton now: he is the most famous twentieth-century American not to rate a biography. Richard M. Fried's compelling new study captures the full dimensions of Barton's varied and fascinating life.
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Richard M. Fried is professor of history at the University of Illinois at Chicago and author of Men Against McCarthy, Nightmare in Red, and The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming! He studied at Amherst College and Columbia University, and has been a senior Fulbright lecturer. He is married with two children and lives in Glen Ellyn, Illinois.
A fine biography. -- John M. and Priscilla S. Taylor The Washington Times Fried shows the extent of Barton's true influence ... as a pioneer in modern political advertising. -- James Boylan Columbia Journalism Review Well-researched and well-written. -- Walter A. Friedman Journal of American History Brief, fair-minded, and well-researched. -- Robert K. Landers Commonweal Fried paints a broader portrait of Barton ... a straightforward biography. Business History Review This admirable, readable volume enriches our knowledge of Barton's career and his political involvements... A well-researched and detailed, if relatively brief, account of a neglected pioneer of contemporary image-making. -- David Greenberg Washington Monthly Well-researched ... insightful biography ... rightly considers Barton's life ... a parable about ... relationship between corporate business ideology and popular mainline protestant thought. -- Quentin J. Schultze Richard Fried has written an engaging, deeply researched, and admirably balanced brief biography of Bruce Barton-adman, best selling author, and politician who was indeed very well-known during his heyday between the 1920s and 1950s. An accomplished historian, Fried is especially good at capturing the context of Barton's times. -- James T. Patterson, Brown University One of America's most prominent ad agents, Bruce Barton assiduously crafted kindly images for soulless corporations and dour presidential candidates. He was also a prolific essayist, lay theologian and, briefly, a member of Congress. In a wonderfully written and researched book, Richard M. Fried skillfully describes Barton's many legacies. The Man Everybody Knew will be necessary reading for historians of America's political and commercial cultures. -- James L. Baughman University Of Wisconsin-Madison Entertaining and succinct introduction... Mr. Fried sees his biography as a corrective, and indeed it is. -- Christine Rosen The Wall Street Journal Despite his many achievements few know [Barton's] name today: history professor Fried remedies this omission. -- Diane C. Donovan, editor, Midwest Book Review Midwest Book Review It's been worth the wait. -- James B. Twitchell The Wilson Quarterly A suitably brisk, anecdote-filled account. -- Michael Kazin The New York Times Fried aptly characterizes Barton. -- Joseph Epstein The Weekly Standard