Cults Inside the world's most notorious groups and understanding the people who joined them

Max Cutler

Book - 2022

What really goes on inside cults? More specifically, what goes on inside the minds of cult leaders and the people who join them? Cutler and Conley examine the lives of some of the most disreputable cult figures and tell the stories of their rise to power-- and fall from grace, sanity, and decency. The result is an unflinching look at what happens when the most vulnerable recesses of the mind are manipulated and how the things we hold most sacred can be twisted into extreme acts of malevolence. -...- adapted from jacket

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Subjects
Genres
Case studies
True crime stories
Published
New York : Gallery Books 2022.
Edition
First Gallery Books hardcover edition
Language
English
Item Description
"Based on the acclaimed podcast."
Physical Description
406 pages ; 23 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references (pages 381-406).
ISBN
9781982133542
1982133546
Main Author
Max Cutler (author)
Other Authors
Kevin Conley, 1960- (author)
  • Shame: Charles Manson and the family
  • Shame: Adolfo de Jesús Constanzo and the Narcosatanists
  • Exploitation: Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh
  • Exploitation: Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple
  • Pathological lying: Claude Vorilhon and Raëlism
  • Sadism: Roch Thériault and the Ant Hill Kids
  • Megalomania: David Koresh and the Branch Davidians
  • Sadism: Keith Raniere and NXIVM
  • Escape: Credonia Mwerinde and the Movement for the Restorationi of the Ten Commandments of God
  • Denial of Reality: Marshall Applewhite and Heaven's Gate.
Review by Booklist Reviews

"Being a cult leader is a dangerous game," writes Cutler, founder of a podcast studio and creator of the successful podcast Cults, in this debut book that compiles chilling accounts of the infamous, from Manson to Jones to Koresh and names that we may have forgotten, and goes beyond the headlines into the very souls and psyches of ten notorious cult leaders and their manipulated victims. Cutler depicts the personality traits these leaders employed to lure followers and cultivate devotion among them, and examines characteristics they shared, such as shame, pathological lying, sadism, megalomania, and denial of reality. He chronicles the early, often-abusive lives of these figures and chronicles their rises to power, taking readers through heights of mesmerizing, manufactured fear and twisted religious concepts, to the crumbling of their empires. Cutler thoroughly investigates cults both familiar and less so (such as the Ugandan group led by Credonia Mwerinde, the only female leader examined), with grisly but not egregious detail. Fans of Cutler's (and similar) podcasts and true-crime aficionados will appreciate this enthralling exhibition. Copyright 2022 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Booklist Reviews

"Being a cult leader is a dangerous game," writes Cutler, founder of a podcast studio and creator of the successful podcast Cults, in this debut book that compiles chilling accounts of the infamous, from Manson to Jones to Koresh and names that we may have forgotten, and goes beyond the headlines into the very souls and psyches of ten notorious cult leaders and their manipulated victims. Cutler depicts the personality traits these leaders employed to lure followers and cultivate devotion among them, and examines characteristics they shared, such as shame, pathological lying, sadism, megalomania, and denial of reality. He chronicles the early, often-abusive lives of these figures and chronicles their rises to power, taking readers through heights of mesmerizing, manufactured fear and twisted religious concepts, to the crumbling of their empires. Cutler thoroughly investigates cults both familiar and less so (such as the Ugandan group led by Credonia Mwerinde, the only female leader examined), with grisly but not egregious detail. Fans of Cutler's (and similar) podcasts and true-crime aficionados will appreciate this enthralling exhibition. Copyright 2022 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Cutler, founder of Parcast Studios, gives an overview of ten notorious cults, based on his podcast series of the same name. Cutler briefly describes the lives of the cult leaders, including Charles Manson, Adolfo de Jesus Constanzo, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, Jim Jones, Claude Vorilhon (a.k.a Rael), Roch Thériault, David Koresh, Keith Raniere, Credonia Mwerinde, and Marshall Applewhite (a.k.a Do). He highlights the similarities and differences in their backgrounds and personalities. Additionally, he speculates on how each leader might fit in with current scholarship on the psychology of cult leaders, narcissists and sociopaths. Next, Cutler describes the formation of each leader's movement and the techniques that they used to refine their belief structures and recruit new members. He explores how vulnerable people might become susceptible to each leader's magnetic personality and teachings. Cutler broadly reports on the cults' activities, which may be disturbing for some readers. Finally, he documents each leader's eventual downfall and reports on the activities of surviving cult members. VERDICT A fascinating overview of famous cult leaders which serves as an introduction to the topic.—Rebekah Kati Copyright 2022 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

In this chilling account, Parcast podcaster Cutler surveys 10 mainly high-profile cults and their leaders from recent decades. Familiar names include Charles Manson, who introduced the cult image to America thanks to the TV coverage of the Tate-LaBianca murders; David Koresh, whose followers joined him in a deadly standoff with the FBI at their compound in Waco, Tex., in 1993; and Marshall Applewhite, who in 1997 persuaded his Heaven's Gate followers to swallow poison in the largest mass suicide in U.S. history. Among lesser known cult leaders is Canadian Roch Thériault, who used charisma and religion to keep his followers under his sway as he abused them, going so far as to amputate his wife's arm. (He died in prison.) While most met violent ends, Uganda's Credonia Mwerinde, one of the rare female cult leaders, vanished after burning alive 530 of her followers after locking them into a wooden "ark" she made them build. Cutler insightfully explores what attracts people to cults and the psychology of their leaders, but much of this won't be news to true crime buffs. This works best as a companion volume to the author's podcasts. Agent: Eve Attermann, WME. (July) Copyright 2022 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

In this chilling account, Parcast podcaster Cutler surveys 10 mainly high-profile cults and their leaders from recent decades. Familiar names include Charles Manson, who introduced the cult image to America thanks to the TV coverage of the Tate-LaBianca murders; David Koresh, whose followers joined him in a deadly standoff with the FBI at their compound in Waco, Tex., in 1993; and Marshall Applewhite, who in 1997 persuaded his Heaven's Gate followers to swallow poison in the largest mass suicide in U.S. history. Among lesser known cult leaders is Canadian Roch Thériault, who used charisma and religion to keep his followers under his sway as he abused them, going so far as to amputate his wife's arm. (He died in prison.) While most met violent ends, Uganda's Credonia Mwerinde, one of the rare female cult leaders, vanished after burning alive 530 of her followers after locking them into a wooden "ark" she made them build. Cutler insightfully explores what attracts people to cults and the psychology of their leaders, but much of this won't be news to true crime buffs. This works best as a companion volume to the author's podcasts. Agent: Eve Attermann, WME. (July) Copyright 2022 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

The founder of a popular podcast studio and a national best-seller join forces to describe what goes on inside the minds of cult leaders and also the mindset of their followers, from Manson to Applewhite and Koresh to Raël. Illustrations.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Examines what goes on inside the minds of cult leaders and their followers, how cult leaders from different generations resemble one another, and the rise and fall from grace of some of the most notorious cult figures.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Mystery. Manipulation. Murder. Cults are associated with all of these. But what really goes on inside them? More specifically, what goes on inside the minds of cult leaders and the people who join them? Based on the hit podcast Cults, this is essential reading for any true crime fan. Cults prey on the very attributes that make us human: our desire to belong; to find a deeper meaning in life; to live everyday with divine purpose. Their existence creates a sense that any one of us, at any time, could step off the cliff’s edge and fall into that daunting abyss of manipulation and unhinged dedication to a misplaced cause. Perhaps it’s this mindset that keeps us so utterly obsessed and desperate to learn more, or it’s that the stories are so bizarre and unsettling that we are simply in awe of the mechanics that make these infamous groups tick. The premier storytelling podcast studio Parcast has been focusing on unearthing these mechanics—the cult leaders and followers, and the world and culture that gave birth to both. Parcast’s work in analyzing dozens of case studies has revealed patterns: distinct ways that cult leaders from different generations resemble one another. What links the ten notorious figures profiled in Cults are as disturbing as they are stunning—from Manson to Applewhite, Koresh to Raël, the stories woven here are both spellbinding and disturbing.Cults is more than just a compilation of grisly biographies, however. In these pages, Parcast’s founder Max Cutler and national bestselling author Kevin Conley look closely at the lives of some of the most disreputable cult figures and tell the stories of their rise to power and fall from grace, sanity, and decency. Beyond that, it is a study of humanity, an unflinching look at what happens when the most vulnerable recesses of the mind are manipulated and how the things we hold most sacred can be twisted into the lowest form of malevolence.