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. The FLDS is a fundamentalist Mormon offshoot with near-cultlike operations, … Continue reading Inside the Investigation that Brought Down Warren Jeffs

Living Through Scientology’s “Fair Game” Policy

Book review: The Unbreakable Miss Lovely, by Tony Ortega Amazon Journalist Paulette Cooper survived the Holocaust but she almost didn’t survive Scientology. That thought lingered while reading this biography and account of her years of harassment by the cultlike religion for daring to write honestly and critically about them. Her parents suffered persecution as Jews in Second World War Europe and Paulette was lucky enough … Continue reading Living Through Scientology’s “Fair Game” Policy

Weird, Wonderful Observations on Mysteries of Scandal, Fraud, Psychics, and Other Curiosities

Book review: Lost at Sea, by Jon Ronson Amazon So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed is one of those books that I haven’t been able to decide if I should read. But I knew as soon as I heard comedian Karen Kilgariff describe another of British journalist Jon Ronson’s books, Lost at Sea, that I had to read this one immediately. I love journalistic essays, especially ones dealing … Continue reading Weird, Wonderful Observations on Mysteries of Scandal, Fraud, Psychics, and Other Curiosities

Pain and Consequences for the Second Generation of the Children of God

Book review: Jesus Freaks, by Don Lattin (Amazon / Book Depository) This was an okay book, but nowhere near a great one, and I’d say there are multiple reasons not to read it. One of them being that Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” will be stuck in your head nonstop for the duration of reading it. I kid! (that song’s the best) but we need something … Continue reading Pain and Consequences for the Second Generation of the Children of God

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 had on my reading list before getting any new ones. … Continue reading One Woman’s Story of Life in the FLDS

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 neighborhoods, and for decades ensnared members in a cycle of … Continue reading Inside a Manhattan New Age Cult

Snakes in the Church

Book review: Salvation on Sand Mountain, by Dennis Covington “Snake handling didn’t originate back in the hills somewhere. It started when people came down from the hills to discover they were surrounded by a hostile and spiritually dead culture.” At some point last year, I read an article, I think either about a preacher getting arrested or else bitten and killed, and I learned about the Southern Pentecostal groups that … Continue reading Snakes in the Church

A Demagogue With Eerie Resonance Today

Book review: The Road to Jonestown, by Jeff Guinn Amazon Bestselling investigative journalist Jeff Guinn writes a comprehensive biography of Jim Jones and his infamous Peoples Temple cult, drawing heavily on interviews with former members and a wealth of Temple and FBI documents. Beginning with Jones’ parents and childhood in small-town Lynn, Indiana, and progressing via sections divided by the Temple’s successive locations in the United States and Guyana, the … Continue reading A Demagogue With Eerie Resonance Today

Tales of a Teen Rehab From Hell

Book review: The Dead Inside, by Cyndy Etler In the late 80s, Cyndy Etler seemed to be a fairly typical Connecticut teenager. Her real problem was abuse at the hands of her creepy French stepfather, which her mother noticed and ignored, leaving her daughter instead to struggle to defend herself. With that kind of frustration in her home life, it’s not surprising that she focussed on friendships that got … Continue reading Tales of a Teen Rehab From Hell

A Childhood in Polygamy

Book review: The Polygamist’s Daughter, by Anna LeBaron with Leslie Wilson (Amazon / Book Depository) Anna LeBaron is a daughter of Ervil LeBaron, the notorious polygamist Mormon cult leader whose sprawling family (she opens the prologue with, “At age nine, I had forty-nine siblings”) underwent a vicious divide as Ervil ordered the murders of those who questioned his leadership or defected from the cult. Much of the family … Continue reading A Childhood in Polygamy

Stirring Up Trouble for Scientology

Book review: Troublemaker, by Leah Remini (Amazon / Book Depository) I love Scientology. NOT LIKE THAT! I don’t want to get put on some list, like their never-ending mailing list. But I’m obsessed with knowing about this cult masquerading as a religion. I’m a total SP! (That’s Scientololingo for a Suppressive Person, someone who hates on them.) Going Clear is an absolute must-read; in fact, it should be probably … Continue reading Stirring Up Trouble for Scientology

Better Off Dead?

Book review: Playing Dead: A Journey Through the World of Death Fraud by Elizabeth Greenwood (Amazon / Book Depository) What a fun read this is, considering the weightiness of the subject matter! Elizabeth Greenwood needs an out from her life – saddled with the burden of crushing student debt, frustrated working a job that will never earn her enough to pay the loans off, she latched … Continue reading Better Off Dead?