A must-read for anyone seeking to understand how cults operate and view themselves in relation to the world.

PROPHET’S DAUGHTER

MY LIFE WITH ELIZABETH CLARE PROPHET INSIDE THE CHURCH UNIVERSAL AND TRIUMPHANT

Page-turning account of growing up at the heart of a fringe religion.

The Church Universal and Triumphant, which Prophet estimates to have had 40,000 followers worldwide at its peak, was an offshoot of earlier New Age movements combining Christian teachings, Eastern religious concepts and the channeling of messages from “ascended masters.” Starting in the early 1970s, the author’s mother, Elizabeth Clare Prophet, was at the center of the church and wielded autocratic power over her followers. Best known for ordering hundreds of adherents into underground Montana shelters in preparation for a prophesied nuclear war, the church and the Prophet family were often in the news during the early ’90s. Viewed as a spiritual heir-apparent, the author was encouraged to take up her mother’s mantel as a seer and visionary; she took on an increasingly active role in the church’s decisions, though often behind the scenes. Elizabeth Prophet’s control over her daughter’s life was complete, even down to how often she spent the night with her husband. Over time, a series of insights into her mother’s imperfections, from moral peccadilloes to frail and failing health, opened Prophet’s eyes to the inconsistencies in her teachings, leading in the end to the author’s independence. Looking back, Prophet dispassionately explores not only the cult but also her role in its day-to-day activities. Her memoir is lucidly written and entirely approachable, providing all the necessary background for understanding the story without belaboring New Age history. The author puts to good use her training as a sociologist in a text that demonstrates close reflection without wandering into self-pity or false excuses.

A must-read for anyone seeking to understand how cults operate and view themselves in relation to the world.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-59921-425-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Lyons Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2008

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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

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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