From the back cover: The snake stuffed in attorney Paul Morantz s mailbox by acolytes of Synanon, a once-hailed drug rehabilitation center that had devolved into a paranoid, militaristic cult, was an early strike in what would become a 35-year war with nearly every major cult movement this country has ever known. Mr. Morantz has been involved under frequently bizarre circumstances–with such infamous sects as the Charles Manson family, Patty Hearst and the SLA, Jim Jones and the People s Temple, the Moonies and the strange world of Scientology. His efforts have helped many escape from lives of torment and contributed to a sea change in how courts deal with the little-understood issues of brainwashing and cults. Now, in this important and compelling book, Mr. Morantz offers a comprehensive account of the origins and activities of cults and how they prey on society s most vulnerable elements. It also recounts the very intimate tale of how these confrontations with threatening and often, violent forces cost him the woman he loved and nearly, life itself.
From Publishers Weekly
“Cults are really a study of society in microcosm.” In this recounting of his career, Morantz, a legal expert on cults, persuasively shatters the vision of cultists as losers on the fringes of society: “the most fanatical converts also are the most intelligent.” His overview of cults ranging from the politically fanatic (e.g., the Symbionese Liberation Army) to the seemingly innocuous (e.g., the Unification Church) emphasizes the use of brainwashing to achieve a coercive, yet voluntary, redefinition of reality. Presenting a welter of convincing material, he demonstrates the ravages that manipulative leaders can inflict on naive initiates. Though many of the groups he describes may seem like museum pieces today, Morantz suggests that our unsettled political and economic climate may provide the atmosphere for a revival of cult activity. If he offers no certain solutions, he forthrightly acknowledges the complex struggle between group dynamics and free speech. He also presents cogent, if conflicted, thoughts upon the possible role of the Internet both as a recruiting tool for cults and as a means of resisting their appeal