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Cult Insanity: A Memoir of Polygamy, Prophets, and Blood Atonement Hardcover – Bargain Price, August 12, 2009

4.1 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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Hardcover, Bargain Price, August 12, 2009
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About the Author

Irene Spencer resides in Northern California with her husband of twenty-one years, Hector J. Spencer. During the twenty-eight years of her first marriage to a polygamous husband, Irene gave birth to thirteen children (all single births). She additionally adopted a newborn girl, who became her ninth child.

Irene has 123 grandchildren and sixty great-grandchildren. Among her many talents, she is an accomplished seamstress, a great cook, and is fluent in Spanish, and she has traveled to twenty-three countries and twenty-three states speaking on polygamy and related issues.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Center Street; 1 edition (August 12, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446538191
  • ASIN: B0046LUJ82
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,575,758 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Format: Hardcover
Here is the true story of Ervil LeBaron, the "Mormon Manson" as told from the point of view of his sister-in-law, Irene Spencer.

This is Mrs. Spencer's second book about being a plural wife in the LeBaron cult. I've read her first book, Shattered Dreams, as well. That first one was about her marriage to Verlan LeBaron, her jealousy of being one of ten wives, the depressing poverty they lived in as one man vainly tried to support ten wives and 58 children.

In Cult Insanity she discusses the history of the LeBaron cult, how several of the LeBaron brothers believed themselves to be God's prophet on Earth, and how brother Ervil's thirst for power led to murder, violence, and constant fear within the group. Ervil has his followers murder his brother Joel, repeatedly attempt to murder his brother Verlan, murder his own daughter, and kill about 25 people from his death list. The murders went on even after he died in prison as his followers continued to eliminate people from his death list, and then began to turn on one another. It's an amazing story of what can happen when a mentally ill person is able to recruit believers to carry out his evil plans.

Now I have read several books about the LeBarons--these two by Irene Spencer, another by her sister wife Susan, and one by Ervil's wife Rena, who killed for him. Despite all that, sometimes this new book was hard to follow. It was hard to keep track of who all the people were and how they were relatd to one another. With all the plural marriages, you'd have somebody married to one woman whose sister was married to that person's father who was also married to the first person's daughter. Very confusing. Some more charts would have been helpful, as well as more explanations.
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Format: Hardcover
Cult Insanity is the true-life memoir of the author, a woman who for years was married to one of the LeBaron brothers. To say that this family was simply "crazy" is putting it lightly: several generations of family members hearing voices, being locked up in insane asylums, running around nude in preparation of UFOs landing, and, oh yeah, all the murders places this family in the realms of the seriously mentally disturbed.

I didn't read the first book the author wrote (Shattered Dreams), which tells her life being married in polygamy. I wish I would've read that book first, because at times I was a bit lost with all the wives and the extended family. Cult Insanity focuses more on how the cult started, and on the murders; so there isn't much background on the family itself, except for a few of the LeBaron brothers.

The first two-thirds of the book moves a bit slow; with not much happening except the cult growing stronger and getting wierder. It's not until the last third of the book that it gets truly chilling and disturbing. Also, most of the murders are just a short footnote at the end; don't expect to find a detailed account of all that happened. I wish too the author would've written more what her own emotions were during this time. Often, she comes across as very detached, which certainly makes sense after some of the things she's been through
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Format: Kindle Edition
I got the audiobook at the local library. Very glad that I didn't spend money on it. The voice of the narrator is grating, childish and petulant. The main value of the book is an inside look at one of the most evil families I have ever heard of. But Irene Spencer, rather than just describing her own experiences and observations, simply copies huge sections about events she knows little about from two other, MUCH better books: Prophet of Blood: The Untold Story of Ervil Lebaron by Ben Bradlee Jr. and Dale Van Atta and The 4 O'Clock Murders by Scott Anderson. Irene credits these sections, but she copies much more than is probably allowed under copyright laws. Plus, it's just weak and lazy writing and she is profiting off other people's hard work and research. If I were those other authors, I'd be pissed off and sue her. The book itself is a jumble of vignettes, principally about the author's truly evil brother-in-law, with no connecting narrative thread. In general the book is chronological, but the author jumps back and forth in time with no rhyme or reason. The writing is full of cliches and trite analogies. The characters she writes about are almost all good or bad--the "evil brother" and the "good brothers". The author certainly is determined to show herself as spunky, humorous, courageous, circumspect, farsighted, loyal, long-suffering, resourceful, and faithful. Hardly any other character is fleshed out, let alone admirable. For example, no other character in the book besides the author ever stands up to the psychopathic brother, Ervil. This is a woman who willingly joined a cult and allowed her children to live in poverty, dirt, and ignorance for decades to follow a self-important, deluded, and abusive fool.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
This book got only 3 stars due to the disjointed way it was written, there were too many names thrown around with no explanation of who they really were, it like to drove me nuts reading it. Lets put it this way...this is NOT a smooth read. The subject matter on the other hand was so interesting. I just don't understand the fundamentalists Mormons, the whole time I am readng this I am thinking "any normal, sane person would of walked away" why anyone would subject their children or themselves to this kind of life is beyond my comprehension, I'm sorry, I think this is for sure child neglect if not outright child abuse. I felt no sympathy for the author, not that I believe she was asking for any, I felt no connection, I just kept shaking my head. What a bunch of idiots!! Insanity is too mild a word for this kind of life.
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