Cults, Conspiracies, and Secret Societies

Cults, Conspiracies and Secret Societies has been out for a few weeks and it has already touched some raw nerves. An angry reviewer on Amazon.com writes “I am not sure which is more frightening, the fringe nuts who think everything is a alien conspiracy, or this guy, who thinks there are no real secrets, or hidden cloaked sinister agendas out there floating through our present.” Another wittily remarks that the book is “one entire flat and tasteless pudding or worse — unpalatable poo. Definitely a read for the bathroom.” I can’t blame them for being so angry; I provoked them by calling their beliefs into question–worse yet, by treating them as a sort of pathology. A sympathetic blog (Curled up with a Good Book.com) calls it “a must have resource for the student of human nature, sociology, or popular culture,” though it predicts that my accuracy and even-handedness won’t be enough to dissuade “members of the included cults from….suing Goldwag for libel.” Gulp. Another blog (Hugh Howey.com) says “it reads like a Grisham novel.” The MSM has been weighing in as well. Michael Shermer called it “a marvelous new book” in Scientific American; I’ve extracted a few more choice blurbs below:

The kind of reference manual that the Internet cannot supplant…..Goldwag keeps the facts straight and gives the rumors — no matter how lurid and entertaining — about as much respect as they deserve.”—The Washington Post

“A messy book about messy ideologies….And here’s the beauty of it….[Goldwag is] such a damn good writer that you don’t really mind….[he] is also one of those rare authors who can write about fringe topics in a way that sounds respectful and fun without him coming across like he’s out of his mind.” –Jackson (Mississippi) Free Press

“Delightful.” –The Weekly Standard

“Goldwag is a colorful writer who makes good use of his material as he aims to explain, rather than debunk or expose, a fascinating diversity of beliefs.”—The Boston Globe

A good friend and fellow writer who is unfortunately incarcerated at the moment wrote to thank me for sending him a copy of Cults. “You’ll be pleased to know,” he related, “that this is actually the 2nd copy of the book to get into MDC [Metropolitan Detention Center]. A…..leader of a China Town gang (tong?) saw me carrying it and pointed out to me that he had it in his footlocker and had just finished reading it. He’d ordered it from BN.com. When he heard I knew the author he made me promise to tell you how much he enjoyed the volume. This is the God’s honest truth!”

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