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Cults: Inside the World's Most Notorious Groups and Understanding the People Who Joined Them

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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 deepe 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.


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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 deepe 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.

30 review for Cults: Inside the World's Most Notorious Groups and Understanding the People Who Joined Them

  1. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    Giveaway Win!

  2. 5 out of 5

    BookStarRaven

    Quick Take: Cults come in many different shapes and sizes, but they are almost all lead by someone with traits from the dark triad narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy. Cults by Max Cutler is a primer on why cults form and how people are manipulated into joining. Cutler describes 10 cults, their leaders and what made them unique as a cult. I really enjoyed reading this book. While there were cults I had heard of like Jonestown, NVIXM and Heaven’s Gate, there were many more that I hadn’t. Quick Take: Cults come in many different shapes and sizes, but they are almost all lead by someone with traits from the dark triad narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy. Cults by Max Cutler is a primer on why cults form and how people are manipulated into joining. Cutler describes 10 cults, their leaders and what made them unique as a cult. I really enjoyed reading this book. While there were cults I had heard of like Jonestown, NVIXM and Heaven’s Gate, there were many more that I hadn’t. Learning about cults is definitely one of my guilty pleasures. I find it fascinating how easily people are manipulated and I guess, deep down, by learning about cults I hope to avoid being manipulated myself. I appreciated how Cutler effectively wove psychology into the storytelling of the cult and its members. If you are interested in learning about cults this is a good place to start given that it covers many diverse groups. I would recommend this to anyone interested in cults or the psychology of manipulation. Rating: 5/5 Genre: Non-Fiction/Cults I received this book from Simon & Schuster as a Goodreads Giveaway.

  3. 4 out of 5

    thereadingowlvina (Elvina Ulrich)

    Based on the popular podcast Cults, Parcast founder, Max Cutler shares biographies of ten notorious cults in this book. These cults are categorized according to the types of manipulation they used (e.g: exploitation, shame, sadism, etc) and why do people joined these cults - the psychology behind it. I loved how the information was presented. It was easy to read and understand, and the depth of information for each cult, was just perfect - not too little, not too much. Although I am familiar with Based on the popular podcast Cults, Parcast founder, Max Cutler shares biographies of ten notorious cults in this book. These cults are categorized according to the types of manipulation they used (e.g: exploitation, shame, sadism, etc) and why do people joined these cults - the psychology behind it. I loved how the information was presented. It was easy to read and understand, and the depth of information for each cult, was just perfect - not too little, not too much. Although I am familiar with some of the more popular cults (e.g: Charles Manson, Jim Jones, Roch Theriault and the Ant Hill Kids) in this book, I still find myself learning something new about them. I find Raelism was the most bizarre cult I've learned so far. Heads up, though, some of the contents do contain graphic details especially on Narcosatanists and Roch Theriault's cults. Overall, this is a must read book for all true crime fans especially if cults is a topic that fascinates you. Pub. Date: July 12th, 2022 ***Thank you Simon & Schuster Canada and NetGalley for this gifted reading copy. All opinions expressed are my own.***

  4. 4 out of 5

    Nicole Wojtowitz

    I won this book in a giveaway and I'm so happy I did because I thoroughly enjoyed it. I learned a lot about several cults and cult leaders I had not heard of before and learned more about those I have. I would definitely recommend this book. I won this book in a giveaway and I'm so happy I did because I thoroughly enjoyed it. I learned a lot about several cults and cult leaders I had not heard of before and learned more about those I have. I would definitely recommend this book.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Naomi's Bookshelf

    Cults are fascinating to me because of the mystery that surrounds them. I loved the deep dive approach with each cult that the author brought forward. I learned what created the mystery and how the leader kept his/her followers invested. I feel like I knew things because of the culture like “drinking the Koolaid” or “Helter Skelter” but I never knew the context until now. I also appreciated the humanity that was give to the victims, known and unknown. I was invested in the story and how it was to Cults are fascinating to me because of the mystery that surrounds them. I loved the deep dive approach with each cult that the author brought forward. I learned what created the mystery and how the leader kept his/her followers invested. I feel like I knew things because of the culture like “drinking the Koolaid” or “Helter Skelter” but I never knew the context until now. I also appreciated the humanity that was give to the victims, known and unknown. I was invested in the story and how it was told. My only complaint is a personal preference. I am not a fan of long chapters and each cult was one chapter without division. It didn’t take away from the quality of the material but it did impact my enjoyment. I received an arc via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Crystal FL Girl

    What an eye opening look at the inside of some of the most notorious cults minds. I like how it shows Manson used Scientology as a way to learn mind control. I highly recommend this book. I received this as an ARC

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sheila

    I received an ARC of, Cults, by Max Cutler. I have always been fascinated by cults. How to people get so taken in by people, of not sound mind. This book has many famous such cults and people, from Charles Manson, to Jonestown. So many people tricked or manipulated.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    Cults reads like an encyclopedia about cults. It feels strange to say this given the topic, but I found it boring at times. Maybe the topic is better for podcasts because reading about one cult leader after another became numbing over time. I didn’t think the book lived up to its premise of telling us: “what goes on inside the minds of cult leaders and the people who join them?” I did learn about some cult leaders I was not familiar with, but I learned nothing new in the sections about cult lead Cults reads like an encyclopedia about cults. It feels strange to say this given the topic, but I found it boring at times. Maybe the topic is better for podcasts because reading about one cult leader after another became numbing over time. I didn’t think the book lived up to its premise of telling us: “what goes on inside the minds of cult leaders and the people who join them?” I did learn about some cult leaders I was not familiar with, but I learned nothing new in the sections about cult leaders I had heard of. Still, the book will probably be popular with readers fascinated by cults or who like the podcast. I read an advance reader copy of Cults from Netgalley.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Katharyn Baker

    If you are like me and cults are one of your two favorite things to research late in the evening instead of going to bed like a responsible adult (don't judge), you will thoroughly enjoy this entry by Max Cutler. The narrative flows smoothly and makes for a quick read. I finished in just under 36 hours. Cutler does an excellent job of putting you into the mind of these charismatic leaders without glorifying or justifying their behavior. If I had any criticism it would be that I wish more time wa If you are like me and cults are one of your two favorite things to research late in the evening instead of going to bed like a responsible adult (don't judge), you will thoroughly enjoy this entry by Max Cutler. The narrative flows smoothly and makes for a quick read. I finished in just under 36 hours. Cutler does an excellent job of putting you into the mind of these charismatic leaders without glorifying or justifying their behavior. If I had any criticism it would be that I wish more time was spent inside the minds of the cult members, but with victim's in some cases being in the hundreds there was simply not time for everyone's story to be told. ***I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    This book profiles ten cults and their leaders. You not only learn the history and what went on from the formation to the end or decline.You are helped to understand why people would follow and subject themselves to the horrors that endured. One still cannot fully comprehend it. I learned a lot of facts that I was not aware of before reading this book. An eye opening book. I won this book in a GoodReads Giveaway.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Anneke

    Book Review: Cults — Inside the World's Most Notorious Groups and Understanding the People Who Joined Them Author: Max Cutler Publisher: Gallery Books Publication Date: July 12, 2022 Review Date: June 16, 2022 I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. From the blurb: “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 joi Book Review: Cults — Inside the World's Most Notorious Groups and Understanding the People Who Joined Them Author: Max Cutler Publisher: Gallery Books Publication Date: July 12, 2022 Review Date: June 16, 2022 I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. From the blurb: “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.” ——— I found this book to be absolutely terrifying. I’ve lived through all the various cults’ lives. The book was very well written, easy to read, with great detail. I recommend this book if you have a strong stomach and/or an overwhelming interest in crime done by psychopaths. Each cult leader is written in his/her own separate chapter, which made it easier to consume. So, if you have an interest in this kind of thing, give it a go. If you are squeamish or soft-hearted, I’d skip it. Not because it isn’t well written, but because it IS so well-written. Thank you to Gallery Books for giving me access to this book, and best of luck to Max Cutler with his continued literary career. This review will be posted on NetGalley and Goodreads. #netgalley #cults #maxcutler #gallerybooks #truecrime

  12. 5 out of 5

    Penelope

    Cults by Max Cutler is an excellent overview of some of the most infamous - and depraved - cult leaders in history. It offers detailed entries on a range of religious movements and crimes, from the highly publicized murders by Charles Manson and his family to the lesser-known (but even more deadly) Credonia Mwerinde and the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God. While many studies, authors, and experts are cited throughout the work, I did want more in terms of insight into Cults by Max Cutler is an excellent overview of some of the most infamous - and depraved - cult leaders in history. It offers detailed entries on a range of religious movements and crimes, from the highly publicized murders by Charles Manson and his family to the lesser-known (but even more deadly) Credonia Mwerinde and the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God. While many studies, authors, and experts are cited throughout the work, I did want more in terms of insight into the motivations of cult members and more about those who managed to escape or were left behind. A good example is the entry on Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, whose movement still has many devoted followers. Even his former right-hand "lieutenant" Ma Anand Sheela has complicated feelings about Bhagwan decades later. Others followers who lived in the Rajneeshpuram commune speak about him with great love despite scandals, abuse, betrayals, and manipulation. Outsiders may never fully understand the intense emotional connection between followers and leaders. Still, I felt I needed the author to delve just a bit deeper into why some people were able to cut ties, particularly when they left their families. Reader warning: There are graphic depictions of depravity and gory murder details, so this is not a book for anyone easily disturbed. I did feel Cutler skillfully handled the content, and it was able to straddle the line between informative and voyeuristic. Considering the sheer number of cults covered in this title, the level of detail suggested thorough research. I would recommend this for readers of true crime who have a strong stomach. Individuals interested in the social and psychological factors at play in cult movements might also find this title intriguing. Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada and NetGalley for the ARC.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Price

    I received a copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway. This book was not what I was expecting. Early in the book, the author discusses the term "cult" and his view of the evolution of its meaning over the last 50 years or so. Initially, a cult referred to "a religious sect whose belief system differed from those of traditional religions, even if its inception and practices could be traced in part to one or more of those same traditional religions." However, the author has used the word in terms I received a copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway. This book was not what I was expecting. Early in the book, the author discusses the term "cult" and his view of the evolution of its meaning over the last 50 years or so. Initially, a cult referred to "a religious sect whose belief system differed from those of traditional religions, even if its inception and practices could be traced in part to one or more of those same traditional religions." However, the author has used the word in terms of what are called "destructive cults," a concept that came into use after Charles Manson; ten of those "destructive cults" are the focus of this book. My interest in the book was based on the first definition rather than this one. As it turned out, I had never heard of more than half the groups covered in the book, and I was devastated by the sheer evil inherent in most of them. While the author did a good job of describing the back history and emergence of these cult leaders, in most cases he did not do as well at explaining why people were drawn to these groups or continued to stay in them, even participating in violent acts against themselves and/or others. This was a fairly comprehensive history of ten "cults," albeit somewhat dry. Overall, this book just wasn't for me.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jloftin

    Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I like how the author delved into the deeper motivations and psychology behind some well known, and some not so well known cult leaders. I appreciate that the author included enough details, background, and tidbits about the cult leaders and their followers, without getting bogged down or going off on tangents. The flow of the chapters, from giving a general overview, to going into their childhood/motivations, was well paced. I learned something new about Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I like how the author delved into the deeper motivations and psychology behind some well known, and some not so well known cult leaders. I appreciate that the author included enough details, background, and tidbits about the cult leaders and their followers, without getting bogged down or going off on tangents. The flow of the chapters, from giving a general overview, to going into their childhood/motivations, was well paced. I learned something new about every cult leader, and was especially interested in the Nxvium chapter as it was very recent. A few things I feel could be improved are: there are some chapters I feel were glossed over or ended abruptly, the spelling or grammatical errors (several times Constanza is missing the n and there are repetitive words throughout), and that the book could have been longer or looked at more/different cult leaders. Manson, Koresh, and Jones are prototypical. I would definitely read another book by this author and would recommend it. Thank you Goodreads giveaways for a chance to read it!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Andrea Aebersold

    I found Cults interesting but also lacking the depth I was hoping for. Each chapter covers the leader of infamous cults, and while I learned some things, I also knew a lot of the information already. If you are unfamiliar with cults such as Heaven's Gate or the Branch Davidians then you will probably enjoy this book a lot more. One thing the book didn't do that I wish it had, based on the title, is go into more detail about why people join and stay in these crazy groups. It touches on what makes I found Cults interesting but also lacking the depth I was hoping for. Each chapter covers the leader of infamous cults, and while I learned some things, I also knew a lot of the information already. If you are unfamiliar with cults such as Heaven's Gate or the Branch Davidians then you will probably enjoy this book a lot more. One thing the book didn't do that I wish it had, based on the title, is go into more detail about why people join and stay in these crazy groups. It touches on what makes people vulnerable or scared, but I wanted more in this area. What happens to people psychologically? The book also ends abruptly without any concluding chapter or final thoughts on leaders of cults or the people that follow them. Again, I don't think I was necessarily the right reader for this since I have read other books on cults already. If you are new to this topic then you'll find this book interesting and informative. Thank you NetGalley for the ARC!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Eleanor

    I was very excited to read this book, but it did not provide the kind of content I was hoping for. If you are looking for an entertaining introduction to different cults, this book is great. I was hoping for more of a sociology lens, with less description and more analysis of why and how these groups function. Instead, each chapter read like an extended wikipedia article. The snippets of cultural and political context were the most interesting parts of the book, and I would have liked to see mor I was very excited to read this book, but it did not provide the kind of content I was hoping for. If you are looking for an entertaining introduction to different cults, this book is great. I was hoping for more of a sociology lens, with less description and more analysis of why and how these groups function. Instead, each chapter read like an extended wikipedia article. The snippets of cultural and political context were the most interesting parts of the book, and I would have liked to see more of that instead of endless anecdotes about the horrors these cults inflicted on people (in gruesome detail). The graphic descriptions turned my stomach and felt pretty gratuitous (I know it's meant to counteract the mainstream understanding of these cults, it's an admirable refusal to glaze over the atrocities, but for me it was too much). If you're a hardcore true crime fan, you will probably like this book.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Nienke

    I won an ARC in a giveaway, thank you! I really enjoyed this book! The authors describe multiple cults and their leaders, and the stories are absolutely fascinating! I liked that the authors included some very well-known cults, such as Jim Jones and the People's Temple and Charles Manson and the Family, as well as cults that I had never heard about. The book is written in an accessible way, and is a quick read, and I would recommend reading it. I did notice some repetition of facts and some spell I won an ARC in a giveaway, thank you! I really enjoyed this book! The authors describe multiple cults and their leaders, and the stories are absolutely fascinating! I liked that the authors included some very well-known cults, such as Jim Jones and the People's Temple and Charles Manson and the Family, as well as cults that I had never heard about. The book is written in an accessible way, and is a quick read, and I would recommend reading it. I did notice some repetition of facts and some spelling mistakes in some of the chapters. Moreover, the authors provide a concise overview of the cult and its leader at the start of each chapter and include some psychological and sociological theory. While interesting, this was done in very few words and that sometimes made it seem like the application of the theory on the cult was a bit rash or inconsistent. That is a pity, because I do believe that a lot of research was put into this book!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sheri

    I received a copy to read and review. This book covers 10 cults and I had know at least a little bit about 6 of them. The ones I hadn't heard anything about before were not based in America. I think this book is unique because it's not just the cult leaders that are discussed. The methods used to draw the followers in and the aftermath of membership in each cult is covered. I found myself to be very surprised at how many people were drawn in by the leaders and their messages. This book took me lon I received a copy to read and review. This book covers 10 cults and I had know at least a little bit about 6 of them. The ones I hadn't heard anything about before were not based in America. I think this book is unique because it's not just the cult leaders that are discussed. The methods used to draw the followers in and the aftermath of membership in each cult is covered. I found myself to be very surprised at how many people were drawn in by the leaders and their messages. This book took me longer to finish than others of this length would, but reading about what happened to believers and innocent people who had no real connection to the cults was difficult. I needed to take a day or two between readings about the destruction and deaths. If true crime or cults interest you then give this book a try. No doubt it will have information that can surprise or concern anyone who reads it.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jenna

    I didn't think I would like this book, because cults have never really interested me. But this book changed my mind. I was not familiar with the podcast this book was based on, so I cannot compare it to the podcast, but I am familiar with the people who made it, as I listen to a podcast created by them. I would like to start by saying that this book kept my attention like no other. There was so much information in it and, even though I tend not to like nonfiction books, it was fascinating to me. I I didn't think I would like this book, because cults have never really interested me. But this book changed my mind. I was not familiar with the podcast this book was based on, so I cannot compare it to the podcast, but I am familiar with the people who made it, as I listen to a podcast created by them. I would like to start by saying that this book kept my attention like no other. There was so much information in it and, even though I tend not to like nonfiction books, it was fascinating to me. I learned things I wouldn't have learned elsewhere. That being said, however, I do feel like this information would be better off as a podcast. This is not to say that it was a bad book, but some of the information just seemed better suited to a podcast. My overall rating: 4/5 stars. Thank you to Gallery for sending me a copy of this book through a giveaway.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Mark Muckerman

    Meh. It reads like a compilation of transcripts from a podcast series - and I'm certain that's exactly what it is. There's where it falls short: As podcasts, each topic would be more interesting as individual bites, spaced out over time as they drop. As a book, it quickly becomes repetitive, and the shallowness of a podcast format becomes disappointingly evident when you read each chapter (cult). Painfully similar in format, layout, narrative, style and pretty uniformly lacking in any depth, I fou Meh. It reads like a compilation of transcripts from a podcast series - and I'm certain that's exactly what it is. There's where it falls short: As podcasts, each topic would be more interesting as individual bites, spaced out over time as they drop. As a book, it quickly becomes repetitive, and the shallowness of a podcast format becomes disappointingly evident when you read each chapter (cult). Painfully similar in format, layout, narrative, style and pretty uniformly lacking in any depth, I found CULTS to be a boring read. Manson was interesting. Jim Jones was interesting. Heaven's Gate was interesting. The rest were more obscure. Narrative was thin and there was no real compelling or revelatory storytelling. Not a Good Read.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Audrey

    "Inside the World's most notorious groups" is part of the subtitle of this book on Cults and it delivered on this premise by describing the narcissism and cruelty of the leaders and the hierarchies of each group. However, the last part of the subtitle: "Understanding the people who joined them" was less conclusive. There were vague references to self-esteem issues, histories of abuse, and personal losses but there were just as many examples of people who left behind successful families and caree "Inside the World's most notorious groups" is part of the subtitle of this book on Cults and it delivered on this premise by describing the narcissism and cruelty of the leaders and the hierarchies of each group. However, the last part of the subtitle: "Understanding the people who joined them" was less conclusive. There were vague references to self-esteem issues, histories of abuse, and personal losses but there were just as many examples of people who left behind successful families and careers and gave up all of their worldly goods to become members of, what many would consider, deranged groups. Overall, it was fine for what it was. Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for the free digital copy.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Karen Clements

    Mind control and skewed religion and death, oh my! Cutler’s book (drawn from his podcast of the same name) looks into the lives of ten cult leaders, revealing how their often-traumatic upbringings equipped them for the salacious events they instigated. Figures we’ve all heard of, such as Jim Jones and Manson, are investigated alongside less well-known principals as Roch Theriault and Credonia Mwerinde, a Ugandan woman responsible for over 1000 deaths. Cutler assigns each subject a particular per Mind control and skewed religion and death, oh my! Cutler’s book (drawn from his podcast of the same name) looks into the lives of ten cult leaders, revealing how their often-traumatic upbringings equipped them for the salacious events they instigated. Figures we’ve all heard of, such as Jim Jones and Manson, are investigated alongside less well-known principals as Roch Theriault and Credonia Mwerinde, a Ugandan woman responsible for over 1000 deaths. Cutler assigns each subject a particular personality trait common to cult leaders, but it is clear that all of them possessed the entire laundry list of behaviors we commonly associate with psychopaths. I don’t read much true-crime, so this was disturbing for me; however, true fans will welcome another worthy entry to their shelves. Thanks to NetGalley for the arc!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Magen

    Cults have always fascinated me. How could anyone let themselves get so brainwashed that they commit atrocities on someone else’s orders? It is of course far more complicated than that. ‘Cults’ is an encyclopedic overview of some of the most notorious cults of the past century, ranging from the more well known ones like The Peoples Temple and Charles Manson to the lesser known Roch Thériault. I liked the way each chapter was divided into subsections, it made it easier to take in the information Cults have always fascinated me. How could anyone let themselves get so brainwashed that they commit atrocities on someone else’s orders? It is of course far more complicated than that. ‘Cults’ is an encyclopedic overview of some of the most notorious cults of the past century, ranging from the more well known ones like The Peoples Temple and Charles Manson to the lesser known Roch Thériault. I liked the way each chapter was divided into subsections, it made it easier to take in the information and felt like listening to the podcast. Thank you to NetGalley and Gallery Books for the eARC in exchange for an honest review.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Nikki Rouillet-Thrun

    Anyone who is interested in not only how cults work, but how their leaders come to be what they are need to read this. I’ve always found cults both fascinating and terrifying so this book was awesome! Well researched and easy to follow along, I recommend this to any true crime lover. Thanks to NetGalley for a copy of this book. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Christine Piepmeier

    The people behind the Parcast podcast about Cults have released this book, also about cults! Each section selves into a different cult leader and how they led. This is very centered around the leaders, and less about the people that were part of them (although in some cases they are more integral). It has a mix of very well known leaders like Jim Jones as well as lesser known ones. I received my copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Melissa McCauley

    An in depth investigation of the world's most notorious cults and the devious minds behind them. How did these events come to pass and what can we learn from them about society and ourselves? Time to ponder that age-old question: Are humans born evil, or is evil a human invention? An in depth investigation of the world's most notorious cults and the devious minds behind them. How did these events come to pass and what can we learn from them about society and ourselves? Time to ponder that age-old question: Are humans born evil, or is evil a human invention?

  27. 5 out of 5

    Stacie

    Very interesting to learn the history of cults I knew about, and also learn about cults I had never heard of. Highly recommend this book.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    Reads like Wikipedia entries.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lynn Shepherd

    Good. Some essays were repeated for me, but overall, good book

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Sands

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