Shelf Control is hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies. Instead of always looking ahead to upcoming new releases, I thought I’d start a weekly feature focusing on already released books that I want to read. Consider this a variation of a Wishing & Waiting post… but looking at books already available, and in most cases, books that are either on my shelves or on my Kindle!
Title: The Family
Author: Chris Johnston and Rosie Jones
Length: 264 pages
Synopsis via Goodreads: The apocalyptic group The Family and their guru, Anne Hamilton-Byrne — one of very few female cult leaders in history — captured international headlines throughout the 1980s and 1990s.
Hamilton-Byrne, who some followers believed was Jesus Christ, was glamorous and charismatic — and, many allege, very dangerous. From her base in a quiet suburb, she recruited wealthy professionals to join her cult, including doctors, lawyers, nurses, architects, and scientists. She acquired children and raised them as her own, bleaching their hair blonde to make them look like siblings, and her group became surrounded by rumours of LSD use, child abuse, and strange spiritual rituals.
In 1987, police swooped on The Family’s lakeside compound and rescued children who claimed they were part of Anne’s future master race. The children recounted terrible stories of near starvation, emotional manipulation, and physical abuse. But Anne could not be found, sparking an international police hunt that involved Scotland Yard, Interpol, and the FBI. Could they bring Anne to justice?
Today, the elderly Anne has an estate estimated to be worth millions, with only one minor criminal conviction to her name. Her few remaining followers attend her nursing-home bedside.
How did such a notorious group come to flourish? How did Anne maintain a hold over her followers? And why was she never fully brought to justice?
Drawing on revelatory new research, including interviews with survivors, The Family tells for the first time in full the strange and shocking story of one of the most bizarre cults in modern history.
How I got it: I bought it online from Amazon.
When I got it: 2022
Why I want to read it: I am really into learning about cults at the moment. I don’t know why, but the subject is fascinating. I somehow see the psychology of cults in today’s politics and it is helpful to learn about how certain things can occur in the US right now. This particular cult, The Family (not to be confused with David Berg’s Children of God cult) is one of the few that was run by a female leader, so I wanted to find out more about it.