New Essay Collections: Festival Days, Leaving Isn’t the Hardest Thing

Festival Days, by Jo Ann Beard It's a lofty goal, to imagine translating one's own personal experiences in a way that instructs and illuminates, moves and inspires, another human being. Jo Ann Beard is long known for her essay collection The Boys of My Youth, frequently cited as groundbreaking amongst literary personal essays. After a... Continue Reading →

Mini Reviews: Russian Totalitarianism, the Appalachian Trail, Cults

Quite the mixed bag today, eh? Although I try to avoid hard reading goals or challenges, I do set myself a soft challenge of reading at least one big book of Russian history every year. It's one of my favorite genres anyway and there are so many that it's a good way to make sure... Continue Reading →

An Insider Perspective on Scientology

Book review: Beyond Belief, by Jenna Miscavige Hill (Amazon / Book Depository) As Scientologists, we believed that when our current body died, the spirit inside it would begin a new life in a new body. Our founder, L. Ron Hubbard, said that, as spirits, we had lived millions of years already, and we would continue... Continue Reading →

Inside the Investigation that Brought Down Warren Jeffs

Book review: Prophet's Prey, by Sam Brower (Amazon / Book Depository) Private investigator Sam Brower found something unusual in Ross Chatwin, a former member of the the insular Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints (FLDS). Chatwin's case, and Brower's investigation into the religious sect that had excommunicated him, piqued his curiosity like no other investigation had.... Continue Reading →

A Light in the Darkest Places

Book review: The Only Girl in the World, by Maude Julien (Amazon / Book Depository) My father is convinced that the mind can achieve anything. Absolutely anything: it can overcome every danger and conquer every obstacle. But to do this requires long, rigorous training away from the impurities of this dirty world. He’s always saying,... Continue Reading →

One Woman’s Story of Life in the FLDS

Book review: Escape, by Carolyn Jessop with Laura Palmer (Amazon / Book Depository) Instead of playing hide-and-seek as children, we played Apocalypse. When I saw that Rachel Jeffs, daughter of Warren Jeffs of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was releasing a memoir, Breaking Free, I figured I should tackle some of the other FLDS memoirs I've... Continue Reading →

Inside a Manhattan New Age Cult

Book review: The Cult Next Door, by Elizabeth Burchard Amazon When cults make the news, it's often because they've done something awful on a compound somewhere, or in the jungles of Guyana. This memoir shows the mesmerizing power of a cult close to home, one that forms in the heart of a major metropolis, in one of Manhattan's poshest... Continue Reading →

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