In God's Salesman, Carol V. R. George used interviews with Peale himself as well as exclusive access to his manuscript collection to provide the first full-length scholarly account of Peale and his highly visible career. George explores the evolution of Peale's message of Practical Christianity, the belief that when positive thinking was combined with affirmative prayer, the technique of "imaging," and purposeful action, the result was a changed life. It was a message with special appeal for many in the post-War middle class struggling to rebuild their lives and have a voice in society. George examines the formative influences on Peale's thinking, especially his devout Methodist parents, his early exposure to and then enthusiastic acceptance of Ralph Waldo Emerson and William James, and his almost instinctive attraction to evangelicalism, particularly as it was manifested politically.
Twenty-five years after its initial publication, and with a new foreword by Kate Bowler, God's Salesman remains a timely portrait of the man and his movement, and the vital role that both played in the rethinking and restructuring of American religious life over the last seventy years.
Carol V. R. George is Research Professor of History at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. She is the author of One Mississippi, Two Mississippi (OUP 2015).