Riveting exploration of one example of religion gone terribly wrong.

READ REVIEW

JESUS FREAKS

A TRUE STORY OF MURDER AND MADNESS ON THE EVANGELICAL EDGE

Exposé of the Family International cult, aka Children of God, Teens for Christ or Family of Love.

Centering his story on a 2005 murder-suicide which punctuated the cult’s dysfunction and catapulted it to the prime-time spotlight, religion journalist Lattin provides a chilling look into this secretive society. Essentially a perverted (in more ways than one) expression of the “Jesus freak” movement of the late 1960s, the Family—founded by David “Moses” Berg, whose mother was a radio evangelist and itinerant preacher—eventually grew to several thousand members across the globe. Controlled by Berg and his inner circle, the Family held complete power over its members. The most damning aspect of the cult’s theology was its view of sex, which fostered sexual relations between adults and children, as well as “flirty fishing,” which encouraged female members to exploit their sexuality to gain converts or material needs for the Family. Due to shady business dealings, accusations of pedophilia and the complaints of angry parents of young people who had joined the cult, the inner core was forced to move from one country to another, escaping authorities along the way. Lattin tells the story of Ricky “Davidito” Rodriguez, an early child of that circle who was molested throughout his childhood and suffered severe emotional abuse through the cult, from which he broke away in his 20s. Unable to cope with his past, he murdered his former nanny and then took his own life—one of 25 suicides attributed to the Family. His story typifies the experiences of many children born to the Family, though Lattin points out that some members of the group have not been tainted by such activities. Some sections of the book—especially those involving the reprehensible treatment of children—are difficult to read, but the author does a service by making clear the horrible consequences that can result from the influence of one madman.

Riveting exploration of one example of religion gone terribly wrong.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-06-111804-3

Page Count: 240

Publisher: HarperOne

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2007

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

IN COLD BLOOD

"There's got to be something wrong with somebody who'd do a thing like that." This is Perry Edward Smith, talking about himself. "Deal me out, baby...I'm a normal." This is Richard Eugene Hickock, talking about himself. They're as sick a pair as Leopold and Loeb and together they killed a mother, a father, a pretty 17-year-old and her brother, none of whom they'd seen before, in cold blood. A couple of days before they had bought a 100 foot rope to garrote them—enough for ten people if necessary. This small pogrom took place in Holcomb, Kansas, a lonesome town on a flat, limitless landscape: a depot, a store, a cafe, two filling stations, 270 inhabitants. The natives refer to it as "out there." It occurred in 1959 and Capote has spent five years, almost all of the time which has since elapsed, in following up this crime which made no sense, had no motive, left few clues—just a footprint and a remembered conversation. Capote's alternating dossier Shifts from the victims, the Clutter family, to the boy who had loved Nancy Clutter, and her best friend, to the neighbors, and to the recently paroled perpetrators: Perry, with a stunted child's legs and a changeling's face, and Dick, who had one squinting eye but a "smile that works." They had been cellmates at the Kansas State Penitentiary where another prisoner had told them about the Clutters—he'd hired out once on Mr. Clutter's farm and thought that Mr. Clutter was perhaps rich. And this is the lead which finally broke the case after Perry and Dick had drifted down to Mexico, back to the midwest, been seen in Kansas City, and were finally picked up in Las Vegas. The last, even more terrible chapters, deal with their confessions, the law man who wanted to see them hanged, back to back, the trial begun in 1960, the post-ponements of the execution, and finally the walk to "The Corner" and Perry's soft-spoken words—"It would be meaningless to apologize for what I did. Even inappropriate. But I do. I apologize." It's a magnificent job—this American tragedy—with the incomparable Capote touches throughout. There may never have been a perfect crime, but if there ever has been a perfect reconstruction of one, surely this must be it.

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 1965

ISBN: 0375507906

Page Count: 343

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1965

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more