I ordered this tiny little book online. I thought it would be a nice little read. Aside from the countless punctuation errors, there’s really little actually wrong with the book. It didn’t necessarily give ME any new information but for someone who was just starting out and looking for some overall introductory information on cults, I suppose this could be a good start. Maybe. (Maybe not. Read on.)
However, if you are going to read this book there are a few things you should know. First, this person (or these people, I don’t even know because there is no author or authors listed on the book) didn’t even have the wherewithal to use the easy access advent of spellcheck, which is on almost every single word processing program out there…almost. I mean, even if you’re self-publishing, which I fully support, there really is no reason to not hit spellcheck. Even the internet checks spelling for you! Moving on…
I think this author also got confused between socialism and communism when talking about Jim Jones. Both can cause widespread destruction and poverty of epidemic proportions, not to mention bring down the morale of anyone included in such circumstances. Then again, so can capitalism. But while Jones was fascinated BY Hitler and his Communist views, he himself preached socialism which, while very similar to communism, is different because the working public aren’t the ones who own everything. Long and short is, communism is where everyone “owns” everything so, (in theory) everyone has a reason to work. Everyone is equal and working toward one communal goal and things are only distributed on a need by need basis. In socialism, things needed for survival are provided by the government (or whoever is in charge) and the workers get wages they can spend on what they choose.
The author of this book uses the word communism instead of socialism for an entire chapter and it’s just ridiculous. Jim Jones was the first to have a fully integrated church in Indiana. (I think it’s pretty safe to say Hitler wasn’t preaching social equality for ALL when he was shaking his fist and shouting at his followers.) But never once did Jones preach of a communist lifestyle. He went on about how he never bought a new pair of shoes or a new car, he wasn’t materialistic, that kind of palaver. Yet you never saw him in meager clothes or scuffed, old shoes, shabby, old robes. Oh no, not Jim Jones.
The author also seems to think that making money for profit and the free market is communism when in fact, that’s capitalism. In capitalism, it’s every man for himself, no limits, if it’s possible and within the bounds of the law (and apparently, sometimes not) and you can make money at it, go for it. (Unless, it's changed since I woke up this morning???) Part of me REALLY wants to find this author (or authors) and urge them to go back to school...high school...college...hell, at this point, I'd just let them look it up on the internet like they did everything else.
Furthermore, on the title page of a section on David Koresh and the Branch Davidians, they have a picture of Koresh. It is a mugshot from an arrest in 1989. They have it listed as “1998, Branch Davidian leader, David Koresh, in a police line-up following a gun battle with former Davidians.” The problem with that is that Koresh died in 1993 AND it was a mugshot, not a line-up. So, he looks very healthy for having been dead fo five years. Especially since I know he died after having been shot twice and left in a burning buiding. Yes, I understand that it could be a simple transposition of numbers but, that’s what proofreading is for. And if you can’t pay someone to do it, DO IT YOURSELF. It's what I do.
After a while of reading, I started to just kind of wonder who wrote this and where they got their information. Well, lucky for me at the back of the book they list where they found all their information. The majority of it was found in newspaper articles online, some books (of which some I have read myself), video clips, YouTube, and other random places. A little along the lines of how I do my research. I don’t trust newspapers or news clips and such so much, the media tends to skew the facts and chop up the details to present the juiciest story, not the truth. I found a little of that in this person’s writing as well. While the gist of what they were writing was true, the REAL definition and/or implication of what they were actually putting into print meant something completely different or something outside of what was originally intended.
I am not knocking the research technique. There are people all over that do the same kind of research. We used to call it going to the public library (for you younger folks, they do still have those and they aren't just to get free air conditioning and free movies on DVD). Anyways, I don’t care if you look stuff up online. And I don’t even care if you have 100 sources for your information. I think it was even more awesome that they listed all of their sources and IF I were writing an actual book and not on a blog, I would do the same thing.
HOWEVER, I tend to lend a lot more weight to the sites with higher integrity reputations rather than, oh, how popular they are. So, let’s say The Washington Post versus National Enquirer. Both are read incredibly often by thousands upon thousands of people. But one of them prints facts that are checked and verified and one prints stories for money and no verification. It’s not that it’s ACTUALLY a lie, but it’s definitely easier to not have to fact-check and get people to go on-record and such. SO, who’s more reputable?
But, I get sidetracked. As you all know.
Again, it’s not that this book is telling WRONG information as it is I think relaying misunderstood information in a few areas. I found it on thriftbooks.com for $4. So, it’s not like it was a huge investment OR loss. But, it’s cover price is $8.99 and I would NEVER have been okay paying that. And that's if I didn't have the knowledge I have already about the topic and then with the mistakes that are inside. This is marketed as an overall introduction to cults with summaries of the most common ones. So, if I were looking for the basic information I would definitely have purchased this book and I would have gotten wrong information in spots. That’s messed up. Any time someone gets material to learn something and they get wrong information, it’s messed up.
I don’t know, I guess I’m on the fence about this one. It’s certainly not at the top of my list. But, it’s not a no-go/don’t read. I guess, just be aware that there are mistakes and don’t take all the information in it as complete fact.
Note: I'm sure there are punctuation and typo mistakes in this and other posts of mine. However, I'm not paying for it to be printed and published. More importantly, I'm not making people pay to read it.
In Defense of Guilt
This was a very new take on the traditional courtroom drama type novel. Not only is the author, Benjamin H. Berkley a contributing writer for the ever-popular Huffington Post, he’s also actually been practicing law for over forty years. I point that out because it definitely gives an element of truth to the courtroom scenes in the novel. It also makes the courtroom rhetoric flow much more effortlessly and come across a whole lot more believable.
This book definitely pulls together an interesting emotional maze. I swear it would totally make a fantastic Lifetime movie. I am going to do this review in a slightly different format because I think it might be a little easier to follow and it might be more fun…well, for me at least. Ha ha ha!!! Since it IS a book, I don’t have actual images for the characters so…we’ll have to just do without. So, here we go.
Meet Lauren Hill. She is a successful defense attorney. She’s never lost a case. She is the epitome of the butt of every lawyer joke you can possibly imagine. She has an attitude and an ego that both rival her acquittal rate. She is currently defending a man, Martin Maze, who is on trial for killing his wife. He maintains his innocence. She doesn’t care. Hill is unhappily married to her husband Dennis and has a teenaged daughter Constance, both of whom she hardly ever sees. Or interacts with.
Next, there’s Ryan Thompson. This self-assured young man is Lauren’s assistant. His job is to do whatever Ms. Hill tells him to. At this point, in his career and hers, his job is to act as co-counsel when needed (not that Lauren would EVER ask for help), pass her papers when in court, get coffee, make sure witnesses (and the defendant) make it to court and to babysit the defendant, Martin Maze.
Enter Martin Maze. Here we have an awkward shell of a man, destroyed by the loss of his wife and his inability to grieve due to having to fight for his own life. The Prosecution asserts that Maze threw his wife overboard while they were on a cruise. A cruise that was supposed to be a second honeymoon of sorts. Maze vehemently denies any wrongdoing in the matters concerning the untimely departure of his wife from this earth.
And of course we need the Prosecutor, Bradley, the fearless champion of the State. This is a very competent legal professional that has made one fatal career mistake. He is sleeping with opposing counsel. They are really smooth and do a great job of keeping it on the down low but, that’s practically career suicide in any job. Sleeping with co-workers, statistically, usually doesn’t work out well. However, yes, I know, there are exceptions.
Now, where would we be in a trial without a Judge to preside over the whole proceedings. In this case, that lucky judicious warrior of truth is Judge Howell. Howell knows both attorneys, Lauren Hill and Bradley. Judge Howell is a huge supporter of Lauren’s and thinks she is a fantastic and talented lawyer.
Constance is Lauren’s daughter. The poor kid is having a hard time adjusting to, well, everything. She’s dealing with teen angst, a breaking family, a mother that values her career more than life itself, knowing her mom is cheating on her dad. She also feels like her mother shuts her out a lot and isn’t interested in her at all, who she’s with, what’s going on in her life, where she’s at…nothing. Constance feels totally alone, unwanted and unloved, even forgotten by her mother. As with most teens, these emotions cause Constance to act out in ways that most parents would not approve of.
Finally, there’s Dennis. Dennis is Lauren’s husband. He is still completely in love with his wife regardless of the fact that she makes it perfectly clear that his mere existence and drawing breath in the same room as she is almost more than she can stomach. This is breaking Dennis’s heart more and more each day. He lives his life a partially broken man, trying to be as best of a father he can for his daughter. Dennis has dreams of being a writer but Lauren constantly beats him down and tells him it’s a ridiculous aspiration to pursue.
Now, while in court for Mr. Maze’s case, Lauren starts to experience some things that not only can she not explain but, she feels compelled to keep it to herself as she is positive NO ONE will believe her. What is her big secret?
Right in the middle of a side-bar conference with the judge at her bench, Lauren all of a sudden sees Judge Howell morph into, well, God. Yes, God. White hair, robe, the works. Can you imagine what that must be like to be a defense attorney in a murder trial, spinning the truth and facts and in the blink of an eye, you are face to face with God? Would you not feel like a total schmucko for at least a few seconds?
The rest of the story is about how Lauren deals with this new courtroom visitor, if he is real or in her head, the rest of the trial, her problems with her husband and kid, and oh yeah, the prosecutor she’s hookin’ up with on the side. This chick has a lot of stuff going on that could go really bad really fast if she’s not careful. But, does it?
I was a little leery of this story because of the religious aspect but, I have to say, I thought it all came together pretty well. While it may not have been something I would have normally bought off the shelves at the bookstore, I am glad that I was given a chance to read it. It didn’t take me very long to get through it. I do attribute a lot of that to the courtroom drama writing of the author. It was really good as far as that goes. But, there was a steady suspense/cliffhanger type factor to it too that really kept the pages flipping fast.
While I can’t recommend this for just anyone, I can totally see the people who are CourtTV buffs or perhaps crime drama buffs liking this. It definitely has a John Grisham type feel to it which can give you chills and increase your heartrate at the same time! I think this author has a special talent for the fictional law and courtroom drama stories and would really like to see more of that.