Industrial-Sized Deals Shop all Back to School Shop Women's Handbags Learn more nav_sap_plcc_6M_fly_beacon Deradoorian $5 Off Fire TV Stick Grocery Shop Popular Services pivdl pivdl pivdl  Amazon Echo Starting at $99 Kindle Voyage Nintendo Digital Games Gear Up for Football Baby Sale

Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

on January 2, 2015
Chronicles McWilliams's time with cult leader John Roger. A fascinating and instructive book which touches on his depression and its role in his gullibility when confronted with John Roger's bizarre and outrageous claims of divinity. As a follower of Hare Krishna, I am interested in any literature which makes clear the distinction between exploitation and genuine shared religious devotion. McWilliams figures it out to some extent, and here he writes engagingly.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
My review is beyond the primary subject matter of the book and focuses on one of its messages. What was most valuable to me was the understanding of what depression is. I had suffered from depression most of my life without any understanding what depression was. It was a normal state. I related to the experiences of what Mr. McWilliams went through and realized what was driving many of my own damaging behaviors were. Depression is hard to explain to those who do not suffer from it. They have no reference point. This book gave me a reference point and because of it I have received treatment.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 1, 2013
Witty but mean spirited, this guy has been hurt and you can read it in every line.
It was a 'Get it off your chest' kinda book
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
on March 29, 2013
I LOVE Mc Williams...and I found the book interesting at first. About halfway through I just couldn't bring myself to read anymore negativity. It's hard to make a book focused on a brainwashing cult, light-hearted and funny, but he tried. RIP Peter
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I been there , and its treu
IF you talk about India - THE gay out of Tibet or where ever
Its al beliefs and thee sell it , and you know al the white fooks are buying it like à blind dog
IF your in à spiritual pad or with à goeroe
Raid it it wil wake you up
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
on April 8, 2012
For me, as someone who was involved in MSIA in Australia, Peter McWilliams' book is an eye-opener. It explains, from an insider's perspective, what was happening when the controversies took hold and - quite frankly - it has changed my sunny attitude about John-Roger and the Movement. Just like McWilliams, I was depressed when I did Insight and joined MSIA, and feel now that I probably wasted 20 years of my life devoted to something that wasn't actually working for me ... but I was programmed to believe otherwise. Fortunately I wasn't financially ripped off like Peter McWilliams was. I wish he were still alive so I could thank him for writing this book!
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on February 12, 2006
I came to "Life 102" a bit late in the game, I guess, and via an unorthodox trajectory. I knew of McWilliams not from his ahead-of-the-curve computer books in the 1980s (distinctly before my time), nor from his bestselling self-help books "co-authored" with MSIA guru John-Roger (essentially before my time), but instead from his "Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do." That brilliant, rambling, flawed and insightful manifesto for the social libertarian movement contained in its original edition an attack on the Cult Awareness Network, an attack I thought meshed uncomfortably with the freethought positions otherwise advocated by the author. Thankfully, McWilliams clarified this discontinuity in the paperback edition of "Business," noting that he had been so emphatically anti-cult because...well, he was *in* one at the time. And for more information...

Most of my generation has, in all likelihood, never heard of the MSIA and its guru John-Roger, which are McWilliams's targets (and his targeters, given the unfortunate after-story of this book and its current copyright status) in this entertaining semi-narrative, semi-confession, semi-exposé. New Religious Movements have long since been absorbed into the catch-all of the "new age;" separate organizations like MSIA, TM, the Hare Krishnas, and so on almost seem anarchronistic in this light. The relative obscurity of MSIA actually works to McWilliams's advantage, as he can demonstrate in a "bias vacuum" (something not possible with flashpoint topics like the Unification Church of Scientology) how nobody-NOBODY-is immune to reprogramming.

I'm getting ahead of myself, however. As I mentioned before, "Life 102" is a combination of a confession, biography, narrative, and exposé. McWilliams writes at one point that it represents a catharsis, a way of organizing his thoughts as his legal battles with MSIA loomed. Unsurprisingly, then, "Life 102" is a very roaming narrative. McWilliams constructs a very loose historical framework--the book roughly chronicles the whys, hows, whats, whos, and whens--and feels free to digress when needed, whether to explain, pontificate, or delve further into the "sociopathic" personality of MSIA's founder.

And while McWilliams is clearly bitter, he never lets his bitterness overshadow his core principles. The spirit of "Ain't Nobody's Business" looms over this text. McWilliams claims that he isn't out to show that MSIA is a scam, its principles fraudulent, and its techniques worthless; he maintains to the end that people are free to believe whatever they want, no matter how absurd. Knowing that the testimony of an apostate, and especially an apostate engaged in a legal battle, does not represent the most trustworthy source of information, he ingeniously allows the MSIA and its founder to hang themselves, by liberally quoting MSIA scripture, personal correspondence, and other damning evidence. On one hand, this is likely what led to the withdrawal of "Life 102" from the marketplace; on the other, if even 75% of these transcripts are accurate...

To draw a parallel, it's one thing for opponents of Scientology to claim that L. Ron Hubbard was scientifically ignorant; it's another thing entirely to hear Hubbard's own voice extolling the benefits of cigarette smoking (it cures cancer).

At its core, though, "Life 102" is a cautionary confession, and as other reviewers have noted, it's in this capacity that the book truly shines. Anybody who's ever shaken his head at a bizarre belief system, or wondered how people could *fall* for something so transparent...well, here's your answer. McWilliams may be far from everyman, but he's still an intelligent, funny, perceptive guy who fell under the spell of a movement whose theology (when presented in a detached manner) seems reasonably below the giggle-test cut off. McWilliams maintains that abusive relationships with "cults" are really no different from abusive relationships with people, food, television, spouses, or anything else; reprogramming, he emphasizes, can happen to anybody, at anytime, anyplace, and indeed goes on all the time. He stresses that the stereotype of a "cult member" as a zombiefied, unrecognizable person couldn't be further from the truth. In MSIA, Peter McWilliams was still Peter McWilliams, but used his intelligence, cleverness, and perception to further his activities in the movement. MSIA became a framework, and inside of that framework everything was A-OK. McWilliams may not convince those who believe that they are above the reach of reprogramming, but he at the very least provides a compelling testimony.

The book itself is a delightful read; as one prior reviewer noted, Williams is hardly Tolstoy (except perhaps in volume!), yet his relaxed, conversational style perfectly meshes with the form and function of the book. McWilliams's approach isn't really in the scholarly tradition, yet he knows to present examples and cite evidence to lend weight to even the most bizarre anecdotes. Even the chapters of less universal consequence, like the oh-so-dishy (but still friendly) chapter on Arianna Huffington circa 1994, are fabulously entertaining, especially in hindsight (one aside about Arianna's unsuitability for "anonymous phone voices" is particularly giggle-worthy). The only real time bitterness and hurt come to the surface are in the chapters on John-Roger, and in between the self-deprecating "why was I so naïve?" lamentations, one senses the true source of McWilliams discord. He had done TM, been a Catholic, and so on, and while he no longer adhered to those doctrines, he had walked away with no more than cursory scars. His asides about the Maharishi, while not universally flattering, have no malice to them. John-Roger, though, is different: John-Roger actively sought to manipulate Peter's fears and insecurities for his own ends, and it is *that* regret that drives McWilliam's resentment.

Verdict: "Life 102," while no scholarly treatise, is one of the most informative books on manipulation and personally cults I've ever had the privilege of reading. Its tragic historical context-in the events that inspired the book, in its immediate aftermath, and in McWilliams's horrific and untimely death-lends it all the more power.
11 commentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on February 15, 2005
This book is a fantastic story about the "cult" personality, and the types of people and behavior that surround such people. It's a valuable story for everyone, as these kinds of people and groups can be anywhere. It isn't just one nutjob in Santa Monica.

It is also incredible to see the afterlife of this book, with Peter's tragic illness, and the subsequent sale of the copyright to said nutjob.

God bless you, Peter McWilliams.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on December 21, 2003
Life 102 is something of a specialist's text. The average reader in search of juicy scandal might be overloaded with the level of detail in Mc Williams' book.
Contrasted with Steven Pressman's expose of John Rosenberg who became Jack Frost who became Kurt Wilhelm Von Savage who became Werner Hans Erhard in the book _Outrageous Betrayal, The Dark Journey Of Werner Erhard From EST to Exile_, McWilliams' treatement of his subject is far more personal, nuanced, and interior.
Both Pressman, a reporter who sought to unravel an objective fact pattern that existed behind the "Werner" persona, and McWilliams, a self help author, describe on an identifiable psychological type, the Narcisstic Charismatic.
Sinclair Lewis' fictional creation, the preacher Elmer Gantry,
is in all probability the best extended meditation on the Narcisstic Charismatic. Life 102 often reads like a surreal retelling of Elmer Gantry with a dollop of Flannery O'Conner's _Wise Blood_, a goodly helping of Madame Blavatsky, some fringe science fiction, and a shot of daytime television game shows seen under the influence of mind altering substances.
A very useful and compact work, _Hypnotic Leadership_ by Micha Popper, will be necessary reading for those who wish to have a better psychodynamic grasp of this subject.
McWilliams appears to be in the last throes of ambivalence with Life 102, as he has neither Pressman's journalistic ability to tightly edit his thoughts, nor Popper's academic clarity, nor Sinclair Lewis' gifts as a storyteller.
He does, however, offer an exceptionally detailed study of the thought processes which animate the Leader figure as well as those of the Followers. McWilliams has found himself in the unique position of being able to look both ways, how does the Leader impose his will on his group, and how the group enables and empowers the Leader. One soon detects the outline of a dialectical process of the Leader and the Follower creating and shaping one another in a stable, hermetic "reality maintenance contract".
The major task before this field is that of shifting from the idea of the Leader as an alien force that captures unsuspecting souls in his tractor beams to that of appreciating that the Leader is more a creation of his Followers (who then willingly transfer their inner authority over to him) than the Followers are a creation of the Leader.
The Narcissistic Charismatic appears to be a disturbed personality type who might otherwise be marginalized or ridiculed, but under certain social circumstances discovers the perfect fertile soil for his "gift" to bear fruit.
Peter McWilliams has done an excellent (thorough to the point of tedium) job of capturing many salient details that other writers have glossed over as mere noise or simple too much effort to belabor. However, in paying close attention to these datails, much like examining a good specimen under a microscope, one can indeed fill out one's mental portrait of the Narcisstic Charismatic personality type, his tactics of "thought judo", his obsession with loyalty and betrayal, the gradual hardening of the personality, the wish to invent a parallel reality in which one is a deity or a superbeing, the gross discrepancies between the way the Followers perceive the Leader (his hygeine, his idiosyncracies, the meaning of his behavior and utterances) and a more objective, indifferent observer would.
For these reasons Life 102 is highly recommended for all students of the Narcisstic Charismatic personality, not as great literature, but as a highly detailed blueprint of this style and how it operates.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on September 28, 2003
This is a very entertaining, cautionary tale about a cult leader and his former devotee. Excellent reading, even if a bit too long. Poor McWilliams certainly got his share of bad Karma! This is the first book of his that I've read and it was worth every penny. Now I'm going to have to buy at least one more (must make sure it doesn't have J-R's name on it!).
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
     
 
Customers who viewed this also viewed


Do It! Let's Get Off Our Buts
Do It! Let's Get Off Our Buts by John-Roger (Mass Market Paperback - December 1, 1994)
$7.16
 
     

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.