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A Dance With the Devil: A True Story of Marriage to a Psychopath Paperback – Print, November 4, 2008

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Frequently Bought Together

A Dance With the Devil: A True Story of Marriage to a Psychopath + The Sociopath Next Door + Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley Trade (November 4, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425221180
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425221181
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (112 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #306,632 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Barbara's chilling story of attempted murder helps us see what really goes on in these relationships before a woman joins the ranks with Stacy, Laci, and Nicole.  --Sandra L. Brown, author of Women Who Love Pyschopaths

Barbara's story is compelling on every level.  It breaks your heart, blows your mind. It is a woman's uber-triumph story. --Mary Matalin, author of Letters to My Daughters

From the Back Cover

A Dance with the Devil is Barbara's courageous, compelling story -- in her own words -- of the slow, choking darkness that fell after the honeymoon was over, and what it took to finally make her escape.  She reveals her transformation from terrified victim of deception to triumphant activist -- and details her continuing effors to never let the same thing happen to another woman.

More About the Author

I grew up in a small blue-collar town in the San Francisco Bay Area, where I pedaled my bicycle to the local park to collect discarded soda bottles to pay my way to the Saturday matinee, read Nancy Drew mysteries, met with friends for bowling and roller skating excursions, and buried my nose in my school books. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would become an internationally published author who has appeared on national television in the United States and Canada.

I entered the world of writing quite by accident; it was the result of my husband trying to murder me by ether asphyxiation. As I helped the homicide detective prepare my case for trial, I decided to write a book to help others understand the crazymaking world of psychopaths and how their cleverness can trap the most unsuspecting victim who has been raised in an environment of trust. I also made the decision to change an unjust divorce law that had me give my attacker half of my retirement fund and alimony.

Having made the decision to tell my story, it was now time to learn how to write. I read books, joined the International Women's Writing Guild, and attended the Writers Retreat Workshop. I used passion, planning, patience, and persistence to see Penguin's Berkley Books publish my book "A Dance with the Devil: A True Story of Marriage to a Psychopath." Little did I know that when I started the story was not finished; the successful end was that several years later I did change the divorce law of California.

I feel blessed that my story has been featured on Dateline NBC, the Lifetime Television show "Final Justice" hosted by Erin Brockovich and the Canadian network VIVA in their series "The Devil You Know." In 2009, I won the prestigious Paul H. Chapman award from the Foundation for the Improvement of Justice in Atlanta, Georgia, for my role in changing the divorce law. I believe I am one person who can make a difference and I field numerous emails from victims who thank me for writing my book while they tell me how it has positively affected their lives.

I willingly share my experience whenever the opportunity arises. I am a motivational speaker who has spoken to audiences numbering from ten to five hundred for such diverse organizations as the American Association of University Women, Soroptimists, the International Women's Writing Guild, St. Mary's University, Children's Advocacy Program and Diablo Valley College and was part of an all day seminar titled "Dream It, Do It."

I'm retired after 39 years in the business world and have found that I enjoy writing. I am now a lifetime member of the California Writers Club and currently serve as secretary for one my local branch. Writing interests include authoring and illustrating a fairy tale trilogy, putting together a book on success based on what I discovered about myself as I wrote my first book, and penning an historical novel about a strong Irish woman.

I live in Northern California with my husband of thirteen years, and our cat Sierra. My husband and I are award-winning home wine and label makers who love to travel extensively around the globe. Please visit my website www.adancewiththedevil.com to help others learn about psychopaths, recovery, advocacy, and writing.

Email: barbara@adancewiththedevil.com
Web Page (1): www.adancewiththedevil.com
Web Page (2): www.bentleycellars.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/BarbaraBentley
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-rmtJw6iArc
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHORIrAIj7E

Customer Reviews

Barbara Bentley was a master at telling her story.
Marie K. Wheeler
The trick to getting people to swallow a lie without thinking is to tell them the lie they most want to hear.
Bill Bixby
Even intelligent women like Barbara can fall prey to these characters.
Survivor Mom

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Bill Bixby on April 26, 2009
Format: Paperback
I've studied personality disorders (socio/psychopaths in particular) as a hobby for about five years and this is one of the best books out there that I've found.

I would suggest that if you want to get a good understanding of this intriguing personality disorder, this book along with Robert Hare's excellent "Without Conscience" are an excellent introduction.

Before I go into the book itself, a clarification: there are both male and female psychopaths. I noticed from several other reviews that this doesn't seem to be clear to people.

As for what makes this book so good, the author presents her story without revealing too much early on. This preserves the "psychopathic fiction", which is all the lies, stories, false claims, supposed achievements, etc. the psychopath tells his/her victim to win confidence. It's only until near the end of the book that the full truth is revealed, just as it was to the author.

You often wonder, how could someone be so fooled by all the lies? This book does an excellent job answering the question, and may make you question what things you "simply accept" as truth in your own life. Like when that real estate agent told you "it only goes up?" Or when your 401k agent said "buy and hold?" The trick to getting people to swallow a lie without thinking is to tell them the lie they most want to hear.

Like others, I had a tough time putting this one down and read it cover to cover on a flight from Arizona to New York. Like another reviewer pointed out, however, the real meat of this book is the author's experiences with the predator and the brakes get firmly applied when she delves into the minutiae of changing the laws in California.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Susan Davis on March 9, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful first-person account of the truth behind living with a sociopath. As a graduate student in Criminology, I am deeply frustrated by how little my peers know about the reality of how sociopaths behave. The reason they are so successful, and get away with various forms of thievery from educated businessmen and love interest alike, is because they are such amazing performers; they can replicate human emotions flawlessly. Like many of the more academic books concerning sociopaths/psychopaths out there indicate, they leave their victims heartbroken and with empty wallets. It's refreshing to read a personal account, to add a unique richness to the formal books out there, which describe these individuals from a safe distance. The most terrifying truth about psychopaths is that the law is always on their side, and anyone too close to them need to beware; cross them or threaten their livelihood, and you are likely to end up dead.
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Kel on November 9, 2008
Format: Paperback
Reading is not my forte, however, I could not put 'A Dance With The Devil' down. Barbara Bentley opens her world to readers, she shares her story of being married to a psychopath who drains her emotionally, financially and physically. Her dreams of a happy marriage are destroyed when her husband attempts to kill her. Barbara takes us through the ups and downs of her marriage and explains how she puts together the pieces of the puzzle that would ultimately expose her husbands lies and deceit. Barbara describes the many events she shared with her husband, John, in great detail, making this book a true page turner.
In this true story, you will read how Barbara not only survived the attempt on her life, but how she courageously battled California's no-fault divorce law for victims rights.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who has been in an abusive relationship, it may just save your life.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Marci on December 27, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The best book I've read on this subject. Barbara Bentley wrote from a first hand experience things that I went through. My ex tried to kill me; he came very close. Amazing how he became the victim, even though I almost died. I wish I had read a book like this years ago, maybe it could have given me insight a lot sooner. We need a lot more awareness in this area, especially knowing this is not an isolated case. I highly recommend this book.
Thank you for writing it, Barbara!
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Melissa Foyet on May 11, 2013
Format: Paperback
I've put off writing a review for this because there is just too much to say about this woman's rationalizations, foolishness, delusions of grandeur and plain old silliness, but I'll try to hit the high points. I could probably write a magazine-length piece about this book.

First off, when I was 18, I married a man who was physically, emotionally, and financially abusive (not to mention in other ways). I stayed for two and a half years, until I saved some money, finished college, and then moved WAY out of state. Fortunately for me, he found another victim very quickly. I remarried shortly after to a wonderful man I'm still w/ today. The point is: I was 18 years old. Barbara "I'm Finally Getting My Bentley" was twice my age when she hooked up with this nutcase, "Rear Admiral" John Perry, son of the John Perry who started the Seabees (and supposedly grandson to the Admiral Peary of the North Pole fame).

At their first meeting, he told incredibly ridiculous stories about his service in WWII, Korea, AND Vietnam. He claimed to have the Medal of Honor. He was (in no particular order): A Navy SEAL, a member of the Blue Angels, commander of Swift Boats in 'Nam, and a CIA operative who was nearly killed in Costa Rica. Hmm...you'd think Navy SEAL training and service (One side of my family is mostly Navy, and I know a SEAL myself) is way too arduous to also train as a naval aviator. Oh, and he was also asked to command the Glomar Explorer during its mission off Hawaii. Most of my family who were Navy were trained in one major area--submarine, SEAL, aviation, medical training--and then stuck to it. According to them, jumping around in the manner "Admiral" Perry claimed to is practically unheard of even assuming he'd been in the service a long time.
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