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When Men Become Gods: Mormon Polygamist Warren Jeffs, His Cult of Fear, and the Women Who Fought Back Paperback – July 7, 2009

4.1 out of 5 stars 60 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This ripped-from-the-headlines exposé uncovers the rise and fall of polygamist Warren Jeffs, former leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS). Based on interviews with ex-members, newspaper stories and trial records, it provides a raw and bracing account of Jeffs's sex crimes and fugitive years. Unfortunately, Singular's account is not burdened by nuance or significant attention to history or theology, ignoring important prior research on Mormon fundamentalism and painting all polygamists with the same broad brush. Some of this could be forgiven if Singular's lapses in understanding Mormon fundamentalism were not exacerbated by his frequent tactic of comparing the FLDS to Islamic extremists, which evokes the intended fear response but remains tenuous. However, the book's second half, which hews closely to the chronology of Jeffs's flight from the law and the individuals who helped to bring him to justice, is more balanced than the first. Singular is a strong writer who uses pacing, dialogue and drama to good effect. Readers will find this a troubling and fascinating, if careless, account. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Stephen Singular is a New York Times bestselling author and Edgar Award nominee. His book Talked to Death was made into the Oliver Stone film Talk Radio. Singular has appeared on Larry King Live, Good Morning America, Court TV, and Anderson Cooper 360.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; 1 Reprint edition (July 7, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312564996
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312564995
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #955,130 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book is an indepth look at the creation of the Fundementalist Church of the Latter Day Saints, the offshoot of traditional Mormonism that has its roots on the border of Arizona and Utah. This group has recently been in the news because after their move to Texas, the authorities there swept in and took away over 400 children in order to investigate charges of forced marriages by underage girls. While the case there has fizzled out, perhaps it wouldn't have if the entire country read this book. The FLDS embraced polygamy and left the LDS church when it abandoned it in return for Utah achieving statehood in the late 1890s. The people of Colorado City Arizona and Hildale Utah are deeply under the spell of their leader Warren Jeffs. Jeffs, who took command of the group after the death of his father, put the entire community under his spell and after reading and studying Hitler and Napoleon, began breaking up families and using his power to reward those most faithful to him. All of the property in the entire community was turned over to him, and the group "bled the beast" by taking hundreds of millions of dollars in state welfare aid each year. Women who fled the cult started exposing the dirty secrets of Jeffs: his 180 wives, girls married at the age of 14, schools closed down, young men kicked out of town so they wouldn't compete with the older men for wives. The sins of Jeffs are many, and Singular does a terrific job of enumerating them. He lays out the case that put Jeffs on the FBIs most wanted list and eventually brought about his capture. Jeffs was found guilty of abetting a rape in late 2007, and charges against him are still pending.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
The author explains how the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints (FLDS) church began. When people began following the teachings of Joseph Smith, and believed him to be a Prophet of God, they followed his teachings and were polygamists, because Smith told the people that a revelation from God told him that men were to take multiple wives in order to build up the kindom of God by allowing unborn soles bodies in which to incarnate. This continued until the United States outlawed multiple wives and began to imprison men who were practicing this. At that time the standing leader of the LDS (Mormons) said he had had a revelation from God that pologamy would no longer be accepted.

Many men and women did not believe these revelations, and moved around hiding their pologmany. From this, two cities on the borderline of Colorado and Arizona were "born," and the people migrated to this region. Nestled away near the desert, this group lived in peace for years under the leadership of a President AND several men who made up the governing board of the FLDS church. Problems existed for women and children even with the governing body.

Warren Jeff's was a man who liked to study Hitler, and how he controlled his victims. As the elder men died, Jeff's was put in as the current Prophet. Jeff's was able to disolve all the committee men, and ruled himself with no one watching what he was doing. Under his leadership, the people lived in total fear. All their money was taken and placed in a community fund that Jeff's controlled. Children were molested by Jeffs, both boys and girls, and it was not uncommon for him to knock on a member's door and demand they allow their 13 or 14 year old daughter to marry someone HE had picked out, stating that God directed him.
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Format: Hardcover
Singular here presents, with his customary thorough research and straightforward reporting, an example of using the process of law to deal with resolving differing religious beliefs and practices when they come into conflict with constitutional law. This book chronicles how the Utah and Arizona authorities overcame their mistakes in the 1953 raid on the FLDS community by carefully investigating the present situation at length and targeting only those individuals and specific acts which violated the law, and building a case. This stands in sharp contrast to the recent Texas raid on the Yearning For Zion ranch, which was an indiscriminate attack upon the FLDS way of life - a sledgehammer approach more like the 1953 raid.
By following individuals as the book progresses, Singular brings the reader into the narrative while explaining the legal processes at work. He does not pass judgment upon the basic beliefs of the FLDS, but does expose their practices of brainwashing, polygamy, and child molestation as well as their financial abuses.
In his afterword, he points out the parallels to the way we are dealing with other patriarchal cultures with differing religions abroad. When Men Become Gods is an examination of the difficult choices we must make at the intersection of freedom of religious beliefs and practices with human rights. If we are to live our Constitution, we must respect the rights of others and not let legal authority become a tyranny itself if we value our own freedoms.

In a time when understanding differing cultures has never been more important, this book has valuable insights to ponder.
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