A blistering, if somewhat rambling, memoir that depicts the Jehovah’s Witnesses as desperate to maintain a united front,...




A harrowing memoir of one woman’s struggle to cope with sexual abuse and depression while living in—and eventually leaving—the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Born in England, Hayworth’s mother became a Jehovah’s Witness to cope with her own mother’s death as well as the upheaval of moving her young family to Australia. When first-time author Hayworth arrived in Australia, she and her brother were sexually abused by their paternal grandfather. Then, when the family moved to New Zealand, Hayworth was raped by a stranger on a tennis court and later molested by a much older man. Hayworth was split apart trying to cope with this trauma within the repressive environment of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, where reporting problems to the outside world was forbidden. Not only did she engage in self-harm, she created and began to rely on an internal reality with an “Inside Mum” who unconditionally loved and protected Hayworth’s “inside me.” She was thrilled to get married, even though her husband was 14 years her senior and she had only known him for a matter of weeks. Hayworth’s husband kept secrets—sexual, familial and financial—from her, and their first son had serious mental health and developmental issues. After two of Hayworth’s children were abused, Hayworth’s husband “opposed my taking the children to the police and counseling and [was] totally unsupportive.” Hayworth eventually disassociated herself from her faith, which cut her off from her entire way of life, including her mother. She struggled to provide for her children and work through custody issues with her now-ex-husband while going to school. More broadly, she mourned the “measure of security that disappeared” from her life when she was disassociated (aka “disfellowshipped”). With time, hard work and therapy, Hayworth eventually forgave herself for the past and turned to face her future. Her intimate look at life as a Jehovah’s Witness will be illuminating for those unfamiliar with the faith, and she expertly uses examples from her life to illustrate the danger posed by a religion that preaches “[t]he only place to stay safe was within Jehovah God’s organisation, and the only way to stay safe was to adhere strictly to its laws.” Hayworth occasionally goes into too much depth when discussing particular episodes in her life, and she devotes an entire chapter to discussing the plight of an asylum-seeker from Africa—a chapter only tenuously linked to Hayworth’s struggle with her faith. Cutting it, along with other tangential or overly detailed material, would make Hayworth’s story more powerful.

A blistering, if somewhat rambling, memoir that depicts the Jehovah’s Witnesses as desperate to maintain a united front, even at the expense of the faith’s women and children.

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-1492994701

Page Count: 346

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2014

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The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.


A follow-on to the author’s garbled but popular 48 Laws of Power, promising that readers will learn how to win friends and influence people, to say nothing of outfoxing all those “toxic types” out in the world.

Greene (Mastery, 2012, etc.) begins with a big sell, averring that his book “is designed to immerse you in all aspects of human behavior and illuminate its root causes.” To gauge by this fat compendium, human behavior is mostly rotten, a presumption that fits with the author’s neo-Machiavellian program of self-validation and eventual strategic supremacy. The author works to formula: First, state a “law,” such as “confront your dark side” or “know your limits,” the latter of which seems pale compared to the Delphic oracle’s “nothing in excess.” Next, elaborate on that law with what might seem to be as plain as day: “Losing contact with reality, we make irrational decisions. That is why our success often does not last.” One imagines there might be other reasons for the evanescence of glory, but there you go. Finally, spin out a long tutelary yarn, seemingly the longer the better, to shore up the truism—in this case, the cometary rise and fall of one-time Disney CEO Michael Eisner, with the warning, “his fate could easily be yours, albeit most likely on a smaller scale,” which ranks right up there with the fortuneteller’s “I sense that someone you know has died" in orders of probability. It’s enough to inspire a new law: Beware of those who spend too much time telling you what you already know, even when it’s dressed up in fresh-sounding terms. “Continually mix the visceral with the analytic” is the language of a consultant’s report, more important-sounding than “go with your gut but use your head, too.”

The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-42814-5

Page Count: 580

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should...


Greene (The 33 Strategies of War, 2007, etc.) believes that genius can be learned if we pay attention and reject social conformity.

The author suggests that our emergence as a species with stereoscopic, frontal vision and sophisticated hand-eye coordination gave us an advantage over earlier humans and primates because it allowed us to contemplate a situation and ponder alternatives for action. This, along with the advantages conferred by mirror neurons, which allow us to intuit what others may be thinking, contributed to our ability to learn, pass on inventions to future generations and improve our problem-solving ability. Throughout most of human history, we were hunter-gatherers, and our brains are engineered accordingly. The author has a jaundiced view of our modern technological society, which, he writes, encourages quick, rash judgments. We fail to spend the time needed to develop thorough mastery of a subject. Greene writes that every human is “born unique,” with specific potential that we can develop if we listen to our inner voice. He offers many interesting but tendentious examples to illustrate his theory, including Einstein, Darwin, Mozart and Temple Grandin. In the case of Darwin, Greene ignores the formative intellectual influences that shaped his thought, including the discovery of geological evolution with which he was familiar before his famous voyage. The author uses Grandin's struggle to overcome autistic social handicaps as a model for the necessity for everyone to create a deceptive social mask.

Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should beware of the author's quirky, sometimes misleading brush-stroke characterizations.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-670-02496-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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