Cults: Inside the World’s Most Notorious Groups and Understanding the People Who Joined Them

Gallery. Jul. 2022. 416p. ISBN 9781982133542. $29.99. CRIME
Cutler, founder of Parcast Studios, gives an overview of ten notorious cults, based on his podcast series of the same name. Cutler briefly describes the lives of the cult leaders, including Charles Manson, Adolfo de Jesus Constanzo, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, Jim Jones, Claude Vorilhon (a.k.a Rael), Roch Thériault, David Koresh, Keith Raniere, Credonia Mwerinde, and Marshall Applewhite (a.k.a Do). He highlights the similarities and differences in their backgrounds and personalities. Additionally, he speculates on how each leader might fit in with current scholarship on the psychology of cult leaders, narcissists and sociopaths. Next, Cutler describes the formation of each leader’s movement and the techniques that they used to refine their belief structures and recruit new members. He explores how vulnerable people might become susceptible to each leader’s magnetic personality and teachings. Cutler broadly reports on the cults’ activities, which may be disturbing for some readers. Finally, he documents each leader’s eventual downfall and reports on the activities of surviving cult members.
VERDICT A fascinating overview of famous cult leaders which serves as an introduction to the topic.
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