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Zealot

A Book About Cults
Narrated by: Jo Thornely
Length: 8 hrs and 9 mins
5 out of 5 stars (67 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Why would anyone join a cult?   

Maybe they're unhappy with their current religion, or they want to change the world, or they're disappointed with their lives and want to find something bigger or holier that makes sense of this confusing, chaotic and dangerous world. Or maybe they just want to give themselves the best possible chance of having sex with aliens.  

Whatever the reason, once people are in, it's usually very difficult for them to leave. Cults have ways of making their followers do loopy, dangerous stuff to prove their loyalty, and in return they get a chance to feel secure within the cult's embrace, with an added bonus of being utterly terrified of the outside world.   

From the tragic Jonestown Kool-Aid drinkers to the Australian cult The Family to the fiery Waco climax of The Branch Davidians, this is a wide-sweeping look at cults around the world, from the host of the popular podcast Zealot.

©2019 Jo Thornely (P)2019 Hachette Australia Audio

What members say

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Entertaining listen

You wouldn't think a book about cults could be so entertaining, but you would be wrong. Even though a lot of the cults in this book were horrible, the author managed to inject human and snarkiness to keep it from becoming too dark.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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"Thank you very much"

I love this book for the dry wit. Maybe it is because I have that sense of humour but this author had been laughing out loud. Perfect narrator too.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Excellent, doesn't need to be academic

Not every non-fiction book has to fit the standards of a university textbook, with objectivity and distance. I thought it was refreshing to have someone cover a subject and say what, as the author puts it, any decent moral person would think about the subject. I am usually skeptical of authors narrating their own work as they aren't trained and experienced voice actors, but Ms. Thornely did a cracking good job. Despite the grim subject matter, I laughed my pants off all the way throughout the book. There were a couple of odd omissions, for example nothing on the Manson Family, but I highly recommend this to anyone who is interested in cults and would like to be entertained as well as informed.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Richard
  • Miami, FL, United States
  • 09-25-19

less than expected

I agree about the author/narrator having a immature commentary. I would have preferred a more objective view than jokes and personal views.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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I feel bad for laughing so much!

Like anyone else considering this book, I'm fascinated by cults and other such things. The tragedy of Jonestown and the like are heinous, what cult leaders do is abominable... but Jo Thornely literally had me snorting coffee out my nose on one occasion and waking my dogs up so many times laughing out loud that they left my office in disgust.

So, buy this book. Enjoy this book and don't sweat the cuss words. It's all icing on the cake of this delightful ride through cults. I hope she does a part 2!!

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fascinating stories about cults

the author's wit and humor makes this disturbing story bearable and even funny at times.

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Keep an eye open for the loonies

(As posted in GoodReads)
It went through several cults many with which I had familiarity (Bob Jones – it's all about drinking the Kool-Aid [although not exactly Kool-Aid per se] for instance), and several with which I had less familiarity (the family for instance). The Branch Davidians and Ohm-Shenriccio (sp?) currently strike me as to of the absolute worst, although Children of God is also pretty bad!
And it was pointed out that even today, there are groups (other than the Mormons and Jehovah's Witness…) that are still trying to build themselves on one person and his or her charisma! The 2nd to last one mentioned, the Realians (sp)? is absorbing in that it doesn't require a death fealty, but it promotes a different, on earth like and unnatural kind of reproduction in cloning. What it doesn't mention is the group of people who think they should praise themselves to await the technology that will cure them of whatever fatal diseases they have or will have, that in some disconnected way is similar.
In any event, we all need to keep in mind "If it seems too good to be true, then it probably it's, and someone is trying to get the best of you monetarily, socially, or in terms of power". Keep looking out for those cults!

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  • Deanna
  • DEWITT, MI, United States
  • 10-04-19

Educational and fun

I’d only heard of 3 of the 10 cults and was able to learn quite a lot. Obviously plenty are missing like Scientology and the Mansons, but the selection presented was good. I enjoyed the snark and humor as cult leaders absolutely deserved to be mocked. It made the book fun too instead of reading like a generic textbook.

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Initially I cringed at the Ozzie slang but ....<br />

Very entertaining and enlightening (pun intended). At first the Ozzie slang seemed out of place but I grew to appreciate how it lightened what could have been a very oppressive account. It also emphasized and ridiculed some of the whacky cult beliefs.

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Good I'm formation.

I really enjoyed the I'm formation but didn't like the authors immature commentary. Felt like a thirteen years old was reading and adding in ridiculous comments.

6 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • J. Lyne
  • 09-09-19

Love the podcast, love the book.

I love the enthusiasm with which the author talks about the subject. Interesting and horrifying on so many levels.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-30-19

Fascinating, creepy, hilarious

I could not stop listening to this book. Jo’s narration feels more like you’re having a conversation with a cult expert friend over a few wines. I’m sure there’s lots more super-creepy cults out there to dissect so here’s hoping Jo writes a second volume on this fascinating topic.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-13-19

blowed my mind

Fascinating, creepy, comedy. can’t wait for part 2. good job author. thank you for this book.

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  • Jess
  • 10-09-19

Good listening

Great voice and story, enough humor to help stomach the topic. Would have liked some more detailed information in some parts but works as a good introduction

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-06-19

High expectations exceeded<br />

I originally thought the subject would be poorly served by a comedic approach but I was wrong. The approach is serious but refuses to dignify the subjects or treat them with anything other than well-researched, distant scorn. Completely worth the investment.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-05-19

Cults? Check. Comedy? Check.

I can’t rate this book highly enough. As a huge fan of comedic writing and cults, this book marks all the boxes for me. Jo’s podcast introduced me to the book, and I couldn’t be more grateful for the welcome distraction from life that both educated and amuses. I spent so much time simultaneously laughing and being very concerned about cults that my brain still feels conflicted. Everyone should check this book out.