THE LIGHT ON SYNANON: How a Country Weekly Exposed a Corporate Cult--and Won the Pulitzer Prize by David; Cathy Mitchell & Richard J. Ofshe Mitchell

THE LIGHT ON SYNANON: How a Country Weekly Exposed a Corporate Cult--and Won the Pulitzer Prize

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The Mitchells, editors/publishers of the weekly Point Reyes (California) Light, and Professor Ofshe (Sociology, Berkeley) recount their three-year investigation of the famous drug rehabilitation center Synanon and the muckraking reporting that brought the Mitchells the 1979 Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service. Initial rumors of child abuse and financial irregularities escalate through a grand-jury investigation into reports of large-scale arms purchases, bought public officials, kidnappings, sex-performance score cards, and widespread intimidation of Marin County neighbors. The Mitchells investigate and editorialize. Ofshe, who had previously researched Synanon as a sociologist, acquaints them with the history of ex-alcoholic founder Charles Dederich and his organization: first a treatment center for drug addiction, then an ""alternate lifestyle community,"" and finally a ""corporate cult""--a big business exploiting members (and its tax exempt status) for the comfort of the elite and growing increasingly violent. The dangerous exposÉ culminates in the near-death of attorney Paul Morantz (who represented Synanon defectors) from the bite of a Synanon-planted rattier in his mailbox, the arrest of Dederich (drunk again), and kudos for the Mitchells. A good old-fashioned you-can-fight-city-hall story, well told and as engrossing as a mystery.

Pub Date: Oct. 20th, 1980
Publisher: Seaview