On the holy city of Canudos, and other attempts at better living “by the dispossessed and marginalized the world over.”
The rise and fall of Synanon, an addiction-recovery cult in California, and its charismatic leader, a one-time homeless wino named Chuck Dederich who taught his followers to berate each other for therapy.
Before he died, Sun Myung Moon, cult father to massive Unification Church (known better as the Moonies), sent 14 Japanese “national messiahs” deep into the Paraguayan jungle to build an utopian “ideal city.” Thirteen years later, the author catches a trading boat down river in search of their hidden town.
The bodies in the chalet were found in a secret chamber, arranged radiating out from a point like spokes in a wheel. Some had suffocated, some had been shot. They all were followers of a mysterious prophet, Luc Jouret.
He was the father of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (a school of therapy that some would liken to scientific brainwashing), a guzzler of cocaine, and a highly paid lecturer with fabricated credentials. He was present when a young woman shot herself in Santa Cruz—but did he pull the trigger? A “parable for the New Age.”
In Guyana directly after the Jonestown massacre with the survivors and the dead.
437 children were removed from Yearning for Zion Ranch as part of the largest custody battle in American history. They were eventually returned to the compound polygamist Warren Jeffs made infamous—but questions remained.
Before the guru, Prakashanand Saraswati, vanished in March—before a jury convicted him of sexual abuse; before he slipped across the border into Mexico overnight—he led the premier Hindu temple in Texas and, perhaps, the whole United States.
A crusading minister has built a forested Utopia for the itinerant and destitute. But is a social experiment what they’re looking for, or just a place to live?
Bruce Wisan received one of the toughest assignments ever thrust upon an accountant; to take control of the assets (and by proxy, followers) of the polygamist Mormon breakaway sect, F.L.D.S., after their prophet, Warren Jeffs, went on the lam and their compound was raided.
Spilling to nearly book-length across two issues of Rolling Stone; a Manson-contemporary cult group rises out of a jug band, builds a fortress in the Boston ghetto, bullies control of a community newspaper, swallows a successful actor, fractures, splits for California, and attempts to describe to the reporter the enigma that is Mel Lyman.
‘Your Black Muslim Bakery’ commanded vast influence in Oakland, offering jobs and self-empowerment to ex-cons , until this story revealed a history of incest-rapes and kidnappings. Another journalist investigating the story was later murdered.
The author enrolls in three cults - ADIDAM, the Moonies, and Aleph (formerly Aum, who carried out the Tokyo metro Sarin attacks) - via their New York branches.
Two sisters, heirs to the Bronfman fortune, may have blown $100 million supporting the cult-like group NXIVM.
75 years after its founding, it’s still hard to explain exactly why Alcoholics Anonymous works.