Sunday, July 28, 2019

Presenting: Cults! Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know, A Guide To The Highly Unusual


I'm pleased to announce the release of Cults! Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know: A Guide To The Highly Unusual, my third title from Herb Lester, the stylish London-based publishers of travel guides and maps too pretty to make notes on.

The gorgeous black on bronze artwork is by Brian Rau, who in another lifetime definitely produced banners for secret societies and tent revivals.

Included in the packet are two blank postcards and a fold-out map of North America marking the spot of 30 memorable cults, with an inset section highlighting Southern California's incomparably oddball assemblies.

On the flip side, I boil down each organization to its essential spiritual or criminal tenets, because praemonitus, praemunitus (forewarned is forearmed) when it comes to such dangerously attractive characters as The Great Eleven, Manson Family, Buddhafield, Heavens Gate, Synanon, NXIVM, People's Temple, Rajneesh, Process Church and ISKCON New Vrindaban Community.

In 2016, Herb Lester published How To Find Old Los Angeles, my pocket guide to 153 delightful places where the past is present. In 2014, I wrote the words to accompany Paul Rogers' fold-out Raymond Chandler Map of Los Angeles. All three publications, as well as my novel The Kept Girl (also with artwork by Paul Rogers), are available as a souvenir when you join us for an Esotouric sightseeing tour, or from Esotouric by mail. You can also find the new Cults guide wherever fine printed matter is sold, on Amazon and direct from Herb Lester.

From my Cults guide introduction: We’ve all seen them: those tight-knit groups of fellow travelers, dressed in matching colored robes, shaking the can or passing out literature on street corners, smiling at some shared and secret observation. Cults are fascinating, even as we try not to look at them too closely. But when we do take a look, we find that like Tolstoy’s happy families, cults are almost all alike. Take a big dollop of unresolved daddy (or mommy) issues and shake them up with physical isolation, a leadership hierarchy, mental manipulation, financial exploitation and sexual abuse, and you’ll have the standard Cult Cocktail, ready to be garnished with unique beliefs to taste. Often, the first layers of membership are wonderful, providing the deepest sense of belonging that a lonely seeker has ever felt. It’s only as the onion is peeled that the real community is revealed, and often then it is too late. We’ve collected thirty of the more interesting recent cults to stake a claim in North America, and boiled their complex histories down to bite size. Each one is an extraordinary example of how a whole new world can coalesce around charisma and faith, and how mad, bad and dangerous these worlds can be to know.

To get your copy: click here, or join us on a tour.