Review by diana lowery -- The Cult Next Door

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diana lowery
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Review by diana lowery -- The Cult Next Door

Post by diana lowery » 22 Jun 2019, 16:28

[Following is a volunteer review of "The Cult Next Door" by Elizabeth R. Burchard, Judith L. Carlone.]
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4 out of 4 stars
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Before I read The Cult Next Door, I had a completely different idea of cults. Based on the title and my misconception, I thought this would be about a community of people living in a neighborhood home who were banded together by some offbeat ideology. Elizabeth R. Burchard's memoir is about her experiences with a group of misguided individuals. The events are depressing, pathetic and eye-opening. I had a hard time reading this book without screaming, "How can you be so gullible?" at Elizabeth, the protagonist.

Elizabeth begins her tale in her childhood with her dysfunctional parents who allow her to be physically and mentally abused by George, the main antagonist. She stays under the power of this charlatan sacrificing most of her life and all her inheritance. Although she recognizes that her decisions are unduly influenced by this unscrupulous and evil man, she is powerless to escape. Finally, the one likable character in this whole book surfaces in the form of Judy, a friend who helps Elizabeth find her way out of the grave that she dug for herself. This person is also the co-author of the book which might explain why she comes across so saintly.

The scenes of George holding the rotting corpse of his dog while he preaches to his congregation are disgusting. The scenes of Elizabeth being subjected to group sex are horrendous. The idiocy of people marveling at the head-shaking phenomena of George getting revelations is hard to accept. Everything in this story is incredible. It is challenging to feel any empathy for the victims because, like drug users, they are addicted. Unless you have had an addiction, it is hard to understand the problem of quitting.

The authors have accomplished their goal of showing how easy it is to become entrapped in a manipulative relationship. All the characters in this true story have actual jobs and families and live separately from George; yet, they are completely under his influence and will make no decisions without consulting him first. I did not like that there was more emphasis placed on describing the sordid details than on the process of getting free from the situation. The use of figurative language offers a welcome respite from the gore. "Mom shoved health foods into our mouths and her newfound religion down the throats of bored friends and relatives who were too polite to protest."

I did appreciate the author's honesty. This can't have been an easy book to write. Reliving all the events must have been a therapeutic, but difficult, task. Typically, I can read a book straight through rather quickly, but I could only take this one in small doses. I am glad that I now have a better understanding of what a cult can be. I recommend this book to every relative or friend who suspects that someone they know is in a hostage situation. The appendix contains a list of literature to read and contact information for groups who can offer assistance.

This book appears to have been professionally edited. I noticed very few errors. There are some odd, but intentional, capitalizations of certain words such as Energy, Girls, and Group. The chronology is easy to follow, and although there are many characters, it is easy to keep them sorted out. My rating for this heartbreaking book is 4 out of 4.

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The Cult Next Door
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Post by Tomah » 23 Jun 2019, 18:27

Great review, thanks! It does sound like a tough read, but it takes a lot of courage to dive so deep into a past of abuse and manipulation, so that's something to admire. Thankfully, the author had a happy ending and went on to write this book warning people about the very real dangers of cults so that more lives can be saved. As terrible and disgusting as cults can get, I'm fairly interested in the subject, so this this should be worth a look.

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diana lowery
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Post by diana lowery » 24 Jun 2019, 13:54

Tomah wrote:
23 Jun 2019, 18:27
Great review, thanks! It does sound like a tough read, but it takes a lot of courage to dive so deep into a past of abuse and manipulation, so that's something to admire. Thankfully, the author had a happy ending and went on to write this book warning people about the very real dangers of cults so that more lives can be saved. As terrible and disgusting as cults can get, I'm fairly interested in the subject, so this this should be worth a look.
Thank you for your comment. Yes, I suppose it does have a happy ending (sort of). I hope you enjoy it.

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Post by Nivi Gideon » 25 Jun 2019, 11:17

This sounds truly captivating and I'm convinced I should give it a read upon reading your review!

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Post by Brendan Donaghy » 25 Jun 2019, 12:35

I'm not sure I want to read this one, to be honest - it sounds fairly depressing stuff. Excellent review though!

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diana lowery
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Post by diana lowery » 25 Jun 2019, 13:41

Nivi Gideon wrote:
25 Jun 2019, 11:17
This sounds truly captivating and I'm convinced I should give it a read upon reading your review!
It was a learning experience for me. Thanks for your comment.

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diana lowery
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Post by diana lowery » 25 Jun 2019, 13:44

Brendan Donaghy wrote:
25 Jun 2019, 12:35
I'm not sure I want to read this one, to be honest - it sounds fairly depressing stuff. Excellent review though!
I can't say I am exactly glad I read it, but it did cause me to reevaluate some of my perceptions.
Thanks for your comment.

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Post by Ever_Reading » 27 Jun 2019, 09:21

diana lowery wrote:
22 Jun 2019, 16:28

The scenes of George holding the rotting corpse of his dog while he preaches to his congregation are disgusting. The scenes of Elizabeth being subjected to group sex are horrendous. The idiocy of people marveling at the head-shaking phenomena of George getting revelations is hard to accept. Everything in this story is incredible. It is challenging to feel any empathy for the victims because, like drug users, they are addicted. Unless you have had an addiction, it is hard to understand the problem of quitting.
:o Now that is some hectic stuff right there! This sounds like a tough read. I am glad it influenced your view on cults. I will have to pass. Great review!
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diana lowery
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Post by diana lowery » 27 Jun 2019, 11:24

Ever_Reading wrote:
27 Jun 2019, 09:21
diana lowery wrote:
22 Jun 2019, 16:28

The scenes of George holding the rotting corpse of his dog while he preaches to his congregation are disgusting. The scenes of Elizabeth being subjected to group sex are horrendous. The idiocy of people marveling at the head-shaking phenomena of George getting revelations is hard to accept. Everything in this story is incredible. It is challenging to feel any empathy for the victims because, like drug users, they are addicted. Unless you have had an addiction, it is hard to understand the problem of quitting.
:o Now that is some hectic stuff right there! This sounds like a tough read. I am glad it influenced your view on cults. I will have to pass. Great review!
Thanks for reading my review. The book was definitely not an easy one to get through.

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Post by Manali_DC » 28 Jun 2019, 05:34

Great review! I have read this book too, and like you, I had very different ideas of what a cult would be like. This book was a shocking eye-opener that cults and people who belong to cults are not necessarily strange or peculiar or have distinctive traits that sets them apart from others. Neither are they unintelligent or gullible, as Elizabeth proves. This definitely could not have been an easy book to write, but it made for a very interesting read.

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Post by Prisallen » 29 Jun 2019, 10:04

It is scary to think this could be going on next door without knowing about it. It does seem to be a heartbreaking story, and I think I would have trouble reading it as well. Thank you for a wonderful review!
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diana lowery
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Post by diana lowery » 30 Jun 2019, 08:47

Prisallen wrote:
29 Jun 2019, 10:04
It is scary to think this could be going on next door without knowing about it. It does seem to be a heartbreaking story, and I think I would have trouble reading it as well. Thank you for a wonderful review!
Actually, it wasn't next door, which is weird that it was titled that way. I guess the author just meant that it could be going on next to you, and you would not be aware of it. Most of the cult members were educated, professional people with actual jobs and their own homes who went to this person for guidance.

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Post by CommMayo » 03 Jul 2019, 12:43

I really enjoyed this line from your review: This person is also the co-author of the book which might explain why she comes across so saintly.

It gave me a nice chuckle. Well done.

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diana lowery
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Post by diana lowery » 04 Jul 2019, 08:17

CommMayo wrote:
03 Jul 2019, 12:43
I really enjoyed this line from your review: This person is also the co-author of the book which might explain why she comes across so saintly.

It gave me a nice chuckle. Well done.
Thank you. I hesitated over keeping that sentence. Even though we are told to be honest, I didn't want to be offensive.

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Post by Kibetious » 04 Jul 2019, 11:20

The author did a great job by writing this book. I would like to read it as it seems to offer much information that could be very helpful. Thanks for the review.
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