The Program: Inside the Mind of Keith Raniere and the Rise and Fall of NXIVM

Grand Central. Oct. 2019. 304p. ISBN 9781538701065. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781538701034. CRIME
In 1998, self-described genius Keith Raniere founded NXIVM, initially a multilevel marketing company that provided professional development seminars that quickly gained a reputation as a cult, in which female members were used as sexual slaves. After defrauding thousands, Raniere was finally convicted of racketeering and sex trafficking in 2019. Author Natalie met Raniere in 1991, when he started his first multilevel marketing company. She quickly became enamored with him, left her husband, and relocated in order to work for him. Their relationship became romantic, even while Raniere kept a harem of women with whom he continued to have sexual relationships. After his first company failed, he created another, and so on, until he established NXIVM. By this point, the author had realized Raniere was nothing more than a narcissistic, abusive con man and left. But Raniere was not about to let her get away easily, as Natalie was bombarded with threats, intimidation, and harassment for years.
VERDICT Cowritten with award-winning journalist Hardin, this astounding insider’s account of Raniere’s methods of manipulation should appeal to readers fascinated by cult leaders and those who become ensnared by them. [See Prepub Alert, 6/1/19.]

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