Outrageous Betrayal: The Real Story of Werner Erhard from Est to Exile
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Outrageous Betrayal: The Real Story of Werner Erhard from Est to Exile [Hardcover]

Steven Pressman
2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Before he abandoned his wife and children, changed his name to Werner Erhard, moved to California and began promoting his self-awareness programs, known in the 1970s as est and later as the Forum, Jack Rosenberg was a car salesman in Philadelphia. Inspired by a self-help course called Mind Dynamics, by Napoleon Hill's book, Think and Grow Rich , by Scientology and cybernetics, and advised by a skilled tax lawyer, Erhard launched est in 1971. And for 20 years he reigned as guru of the "human potential movement." According to freelance journalist Pressman, the womanizing, charismatic and demanding Erhard collected tens of millions of dollars from 500,000 people who took his courses. Eventually lawsuits, desertions among his coterie and the rise of new New Age mind-improving programs ended Erhard's empire and in 1991, owing millions to the IRS and others, he went into exile in Mexico. Pressman here cuts into him with surgical precision.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Pressman, a San Francisco-based journalist, offers a compelling account of the 1980s guru who rose from selling used cars to peddling personal transformation. Erhard's dubious Est program--today known as The Forum--promises outlandish benefits in return for outlandish cash outlays. Like many of his predecessors, (notably L. Ron Hubbard, the demented fabricator of Scientology, whom Erhard briefly followed), Erhard progressed from a tireless, aggressive proselytizer to a psychotic egomaniac. Pressman skillfully documents Erhard's ascension to godlike status, and his irrevocable, shameful plummet following an episode that aired in 1991 on 60 Minutes , in which Erhard's daughter accused him of sexual abuse (a charge that Erhard allegedly deflected by characterizing it as "a nurturing experience"). Most public libraries should place this expose on the same shelves as Wendy Kaminer's I'm Dysfunctional, You're Dysfunctional ( LJ 6/1/92).
- Mark Annichiarico, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

Mud-slinging expos‚ of the notorious pop guru who ``got it''- -and then tried to give it to the rest of the world. As his title makes clear, Pressman (a former writer for California Lawyer) makes no pretense to objectivity here: His Werner Erhard is a charismatic but abusive con man with a genius for repackaging and marketing others' ideas. Erhard, he tells us, was born in 1935 Pennsylvania as ``Jack Rosenberg''; grew up to be a married car-salesman with kids; fell in love and remarried, committing bigamy; changed his name to Werner Erhard; and moved with his new wife to California. There, while selling encyclopedias door-to-door, Erhard hooked up with Scientology and a teaching method called Mind Dynamics, then broke away to begin est. Within two years, est had expanded into a multimillion-dollar business whose confrontational, allegedly transformational, techniques had been sold to tens of thousands, including many celebrities. Pressman highlights est's little-known debt to Scientology and Mind Dynamics; traces the outfit's byzantine, perhaps shady, financial structure; emphasizes Erhard's sybaritic way of life and cult of personality; and hammers home the guru's bullying side--which, at its ugliest, may have led him to beat his wife and molest his daughters. What the author dramatically fails to provide by bearing down on the negative (to the extent that nearly all his informants denounce est and its founder) is any real understanding of est's teachings--and of why they appealed so deeply to so many. Today, Erhard, escaping bad publicity, is in exile, his whereabouts apparently unknown to the press, including Pressman: a suitably shadowy stage in the life of a man who remains an enigma despite a dogged telling here of what, surely, is only half the story. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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