Mystery. Manipulation. Murder. Cults are associated with all of these. But what really goes on inside them? More specifically, what goes on inside the minds of cult leaders and the people who join them? Based on the hit podcast Cults, this is essential reading for any true crime fan.
Ten chapters cover 10 cults chosen for their impacts on the world's imagination, beginning (naturally) with Charles Manson and his 'family'...Cutler's focus is both narrative, detailing the story of the leader's upbringing and the cult's rise and fall, and also probing: Cults is interested in motivations and, to the extent possible, diagnoses...Cults are labeled in the table of contents by the root cause Cutler has identified for each leader's actions...Manipulative, self-aggrandizing, compelling and lacking in empathy, these characters (in every sense) are by turns laughable, inexplicably strange and chillingly, brutally cruel...Not for the faint of heart but absolutely for the true-crime junkie, Cults is packed with details and unafraid to posit theories to explain these superlatively weird and scary stories.
...so begins Cutler, founder of Parcast Studios, writing with the assistance of former New Yorker editor Conley...Though 'this appetite for belief' often leads to 'great things,' it can also be used by charismatic leaders to exploit others for their own desires and delusions...In a book based on the popular eponymous podcast, Cutler offers an introduction into the fascinating world of cult leaders, ranging from notorious masterminds like Charles Manson, Jim Jones, David Koresh, and Marshall Applewhite to lesser-known figures such as Credonia Mwerinde, a high priestess in Uganda who was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of people in the name of her cult, the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God...The author seeks to understand the psychology of these leaders, how they wielded their manipulation tactics, and how the landscape of their particular sociopolitical milieu played a role in their crimes...The book is well researched and well organized...a tantalizing read for true-crime neophytes but a slog for well-established readers of the genre...True-crime fans should stick to the podcast.
In this chilling account, Parcast podcaster Cutler surveys 10 mainly high-profile cults and their leaders from recent decades...Familiar names include Charles Manson, who introduced the cult image to America thanks to the TV coverage of the Tate-LaBianca murders; David Koresh, whose followers joined him in a deadly standoff with the FBI at their compound in Waco, Tex., in 1993; and Marshall Applewhite, who in 1997 persuaded his Heaven’s Gate followers to swallow poison in the largest mass suicide in U.S. history...Among lesser known cult leaders is Canadian Roch Thériault, who used charisma and religion to keep his followers under his sway as he abused them, going so far as to amputate his wife’s arm...Cutler insightfully explores what attracts people to cults and the psychology of their leaders, but much of this won’t be news to true crime buffs...This works best as a companion volume to the author’s podcasts.