Heavens on Earth, Utopian Communities in America, 1960-1880 by Mark Holloway

In the 1800s America could boast of over 100 utopian communities with a total combined membership of over 100,000.  The founders of these societies usually came from Europe in their quest to establish heaven on earth in small communities of like-minded people.  Almost all of these efforts were religious in nature, adopted some form of voluntary communism and had aberrant views of sex—often advocating celibacy or, at best, tolerance of marital relationships or the other extreme, free love.

Holloway examines the most important nineteenth-century utopian communities including the Shakers, New Harmony, Fourierism, Brook Farm, Bishop Hill, Amana and Oneida.  A brief history of each society is given along with its basic beliefs and reasons for its demise.

Eventually the idealism behind such efforts faded away along with optimism of the times and such utopians ceased being attempted.  Heavens on Earth is a very interesting history of a unique period in American history.