From School Library Journal
Grade 5-8-Written from an anticult perspective and relying heavily on materials from the anticult movement, this brief book provides a shallow overview of the topic. Opening with a graphic description of a California mass suicide in early 1997, Goodnough follows with a short explanation of what cults are and where they come from. He organizes his discussion of the types of cults in a way that leads to some odd conjunctions. Beginning with apocalyptic religious cults in which he includes a discussion of Jehovah's Witnesses, he goes on to describe the Unification Church, non-Christian religious cults such as Santer'a, and satanic cults. Groups from the East including Hare Krishna and the Nation of Islam; nondestructive cults such as the Shakers, Mormons, and Oneida community; spiritual cults such as theosophists; and the Church of Scientology, New Age cults, and believers in UFOs and alien abductions are also addressed. The concluding chapter, "Cults Among Us," describes cult members, anticult movements, legal issues, and the role of the Internet. Interspersed throughout the book are charts showing findings from the "Questionnaire for Former Members of Charismatic Groups" conducted by the American Family Foundation. Nowhere in the text does the author point out the problem of the subjectivity of such "information." Simple, straightforward prose makes this an easy read, but students would be better served by a more substantial and evenhanded approach such as that found in Joan Barghusen's Cults (1997) or Karen Burns Kellaher's Cult Leaders (1999, both Lucent).Kathleen Isaacs, Edmund Burke School, Washington, DC
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
This latest entry in the Hot Issue series successfully introduces important information about cults, cut with chilling anecdotes and statistics. Goodnough tells true stories well, covering cults readers have encountered in the news, e.g., Heaven's Gate, the Manson family, and Jonestown. He examines their common characteristics and possible origins, noting that similar groups have existed from the beginning of history; addresses the differences between cults and mainstream religions; and chronicles the difficulties inherent in attempts to fight cults legally. His information on how such organizations recruit members may help readers recognize and rebuff any such efforts. No discussion of this topic would be complete without mention of religious freedom, and Goodnough satisfies that requirement; he clearly elucidates how cults are legally protected and how anyone who wishes to join one is constitutionally guaranteed the right to do so. Readers will find themselves engaging in the author's thoughtful speculation, coherently outlined, as he delivers a wealth of information on a fascinating subject. (notes, further reading, index) (Nonfiction. 12+) -- Copyright ©2000, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.