A chilling but illuminating account of the inner workings of a hate group and Drain's ultimately successful struggle to free...

The inside story of a small hate group that captured big headlines.

The Westboro Baptist Church is infamous for having carried picket signs reading “Thank God for 9/11” on the day it happened. They brought the message “God Hates America” to the funerals of servicemen killed in action and picketed George W. Bush's second inauguration with signs that read, “God Hates Fag Enablers.” Considering themselves the messengers of a wrathful, vengeful God, they warn of an upcoming apocalypse in which all but the elect members of their church will be plummeted to hell. With the assistance of former New York Times correspondent Pulitzer (co-author: Stolen Innocence: My Story of Growing Up in a Polygamous Sect, Becoming a Teenage Bride, and Breaking Free of Warren Jeffs, 2010, etc.), Drain describes the life of this pernicious cult and the seven years that she spent in its clutches. Located in Topeka, Kan., the Church's congregation brought together 70 people at most, many of them family members of pastor Fred Phelps, whose belief system was based on a fundamentalism that targeted homosexuals. The author's father converted while filming a documentary about the group. In 2000, he coerced his wife and the author (then 15) to join and accompany him in a move from their Florida home to Topeka. She describes how she struggled to adhere to the group's doctrine, a struggle caused by extreme social pressure (including her father's physical abuse and threats to disown her.)Even so, she was ultimately banished from the group (and any contact with her immediate family) in 2007. Drain describes how her own identity eroded during the time she was a member of the cult, as she sought to quell her doubts in order to gain acceptance, and how the dynamic of an extended family intensified their paranoid delusions.

A chilling but illuminating account of the inner workings of a hate group and Drain's ultimately successful struggle to free herself.

Pub Date: March 5, 2013

ISBN: 978-1455512423

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013


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

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



Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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