Cults: Inside the World’s Most Notorious Groups and Understanding the People Who Joined Them by Max Cutler [REVIEW]


Mystery. Manipulation. Murder. Cults are associated with all of these. But what really goes on inside them? More specifically, what goes on inside the minds of cult leaders and the people who join them? Based on the hit podcast Cults, this is essential reading for any true crime fan.

Cults prey on the very attributes that make us human: our desire to belong; to find a deeper meaning in life; to live everyday with divine purpose. Their existence creates a sense that any one of us, at any time, could step off the cliff’s edge and fall into that daunting abyss of manipulation and unhinged dedication to a misplaced cause. Perhaps it’s this mindset that keeps us so utterly obsessed and desperate to learn more, or it’s that the stories are so bizarre and unsettling that we are simply in awe of the mechanics that make these infamous groups tick.

The premier storytelling podcast studio Parcast has been focusing on unearthing these mechanics—the cult leaders and followers, and the world and culture that gave birth to both. Parcast’s work in analyzing dozens of case studies has revealed patterns: distinct ways that cult leaders from different generations resemble one another. What links the ten notorious figures profiled in Cults are as disturbing as they are stunning—from Manson to Applewhite, Koresh to Raël, the stories woven here are both spellbinding and disturbing.

Cults is more than just a compilation of grisly biographies, however. In these pages, Parcast’s founder Max Cutler and national bestselling author Kevin Conley look closely at the lives of some of the most disreputable cult figures and tell the stories of their rise to power and fall from grace, sanity, and decency. Beyond that, it is a study of humanity, an unflinching look at what happens when the most vulnerable recesses of the mind are manipulated and how the things we hold most sacred can be twisted into the lowest form of malevolence.


Yes….I am a true crime fan. So when one of my favorite podcasters, Max Cutler announced the release of this book I immediately ordered it. I can’t believe it has been unread in my Kindle library since July 11th of this year.

This book includes such familiar figures as Charles Manson, Jim Jones & David Koresh. Others may not be as well known (by me) but are nevertheless just as twisted as those listed above. Have you heard of Adolfo de Jesús Constanzo, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, Claude Vorilhon, Keith Reinere, Credonia Mwerinde or Marshall Applewhite. Each chapter reads very similarly to the tone flow of Cutler’s podcast.

The more control a cult follower is asked to give up, the more likely the are to get sucked in.

“In a study of eighty-three religious communes that existed in the nineteenth century, sociologists Richard Sosis and Eric R. Bressler found that communes with only two costly requirements—such as celibacy or the surrendering of possessions—lasted an average of less than ten years. Communes with six to eight requirements lasted for fifty years, and those with more than eleven requirements lasted for sixty years. The more they demanded of followers, the longer they existed.

To listen to the podcast that inspired the book CLICK HERE

Based on the additional research that Cutler did for this book. I can see at least one more book in his future


  1. “The more they demanded of followers, the longer they existed.” That last statement is very interesting. Apparently, we have a need to believe in something that is worth sacrificing for. As David said, “I will not offer the Lord that which cost me nothing.” (II Samuel 24:24)

    Liked by 2 people

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