VOYA - Vicky BurkholderGay writes from the unique perspective of having been raised in a religious commune, and she touches on both communes and cults in her book. Not all communes are cults and not all cults are communal, she explains, and she discusses the development of, as well as similarities and differences among, various groups including Mormons, Shakers, and Hare Krishnas. She neither advocates for nor condemns any of the sects, but shows their good and bad sides. Many of the cults start out with altruistic intentions to help the homeless and needy according to Gay, but they eventually move on to less socially acceptable activities. Gay offers basic information, not going into any real depth on any subject. Her further reading list is extensive, and the chapter notes are numerous and also useful for further research. Zeinert explores more cults than Gay but touches on communes only as they relate to cults. She provides various definitions of cults and looks at how cults have fared in American history. Zeinert includes basic information on a wide variety of cults, from apocalyptic, utopian, and revivalist to spiritualist, satanic, and voodoo. Scattered throughout the book are black-and-white photos of the people and events mentioned. Like Gay, Zeinert offers an overview but no opinions as to which cults are good or bad, and she covers her subject with little depth. Her reading list and end notes are short, and many of the sources are older than ten years. Both books would be good starting points for students seeking basic information on a wide variety of cults, as opposed to in-depth information on a particular group. Although the books contain some of the same information, they have enough differences to make them both of value to a collection. Index. Illus. Photos. Source Notes. Further Reading. Note: This review was written and published to address two titles: Communes and Cults, and Cults. VOYA Codes: 3Q 2P M J (Readable without serious defects, For the YA with a special interest in the subject, Middle School-defined as grades 6 to 8 and Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9).
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