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Jesus Freaks

3.23 of 5 stars 3.23  ·  rating details  ·  239 ratings  ·  56 reviews
In the tradition of Jon Krakauer's Under the Banner of Heaven, Don Lattin's Jesus Freaks is the story of a shocking pilgrimage of revenge that left two people dead and shed new light on The Family International, one of the most controversial religious movements to emerge from the spiritual turmoil of the sixties and seventies.

Some say The Family International—previously kn
ebook, 256 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published October 1st 2007)
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This book was so badly written and disorganized that it made a compelling subject almost uninteresting. I expected this books to be sensational and tabloid-like, but the writing was so bad that i couldn't even enjoy it as a trashy non-fiction book about an interesting subject.
Molly Jones
Nov 18, 2007 Molly Jones rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people curious about cults
I am intrigued by the people who get sucked into abusive cults. What draws them in? At what point do they forget common sense? This nonfiction book follows the life of "Prophet Prince" Ricky Rodriguez, who was born into the Children of God/The Family International cult and, according to cult founder David Berg, an alcoholic pedophile, was destined to become one of two "witnesses" who would sacrifice himself to bring on the apocalypse. Berg claimed that sex between adults and children (including ...more
I wouldn't recommend this to those looking for in-depth history on COG/TFI or the 'Jesus People' movement. I was hoping Lattin would delve further into the early history & cultural environment in which high-demand groups like this one were able to flourish.

This book seems to sell itself on the sensationalism of already-sensational events, which makes me wonder why many reviewers seem shocked at the content, knowing in advance what the themes are.

Hopefully this book's existence serves as a s
This is a hard book to review. Due to the subject matter and that the book is not really that well written, even though the author is a journalist. I only gave it 2 stars, a rating of OK. In the last half of the 60s around the time of the Summer of Love, this cult started picking up momentum. Back then it was better known as Teens for Christ or Children of God and later became the Family International or merely The Family. How anyone could believe some of it is hard to imagine, since unlike some ...more
Another cult book about a cult I'd never heard of before. As usual, it is hard to write a definitive book about a secretive cult because the members don't cooperate so this one morphs into the story of Ricky Rodriguez, adopted son of the cult leader, who is anointed as the successor but doesn't want any part of it. Ricky leaves the group, then decides to take revenge, leading to a sad ending.

Lots of titillating stuff about sex with kids. As often happens reading these kinds of tales, one wonders
Henri Moreaux
This is not the easiest book to form an opinion on. The topic is probably one of the most heinous things to be written about - the systematic sexual, emotional and physical abuse of children under their brand of Christianity.

The writing itself is average, but the topic overcomes the sub-par writing being such a... shocking time line of events which numerous people thought were acceptable under the guise of their religion: incest, paedophilia, child pornography, adultery and corporal punishment a
Patrick O'Neil
Jesus Freaks: the story of a religious group from the early 1960’s: the Children of God, whose doctrine transcended normal religious ideals and descended into a sexually promiscuous, abusive, and secretive cult. Whose true practices and beliefs came to public attention when the group’s chosen prophet, Davidito, an illegitimate and sexually abused descendant of one of the founding members, murdered a leading cult member that sexually abused him as an infant. The story unfolded when police found D ...more
WOW... Did I say WOW?

I was so caught up in this book. I have studied religion and have an arts degree with a major in Religious Studies, but NEVER... WOW! I am floored. I know that people do some wacky things in the name of Religion, but this one tops the cake so far. Child sexuality, prostitution (oh, sorry, flirty fishing), multiple partners, orgies... and all in the name of Jesus Christ? WOW! I couldn't put this book down, and the whole time, the only thing running through my head was "what m
David Berg was an odd cult leader. He built his cult completely around his pathology and abuse history. He mandated sexual contact with infants but was not a interested in participating. He was not attracted to sexually immature girls or boys - but did not waste much time waiting for puberty to end to bring girls into his sexual rotation.

Berg was abused by a nanny as a child. This nanny would caress and fondle him. Eventually, these caresses advanced with his maturing physiognomy. Berg felt this
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ana Mardoll
Jesus Freaks / 978-0-06-111804-3

Sometimes you're walking through the "True Crime" section of the bookstore, and a book leaps out at you, and you realize that it's the true account of that one Law & Order episode you caught that one time that totally wasn't based on a true story or anything, except of course they all are. And because you thought the episode (Season 15, Episode 19, "Sects") was interesting (in a horrifying kind of way), you take the book home and you read it, and you find a gr
This is a very difficult book to rate so I will start with what's easiest. Considering that the author writes for The Atlantic I had expected better quality writing from him. I found that the writing lacked flow, repeated itself unnecessarily a few times and was disorganized in parts. The actual story however was incredibly compelling and certainly made up for this. A family member had briefly been a member of this cult, originally called the Children of God, leaving once some of the more horrif ...more
Jill Crosby
This SHOULD be a great read---the dissecting of a counter-culture "love cult" and an in-depth look at the psyches of those at the top of the heap. Sadly, this is not the case here. The writer never really gives the reader much to chew on---there's no real definition of the cult's theology, its proselytizing, its fundraising. We're treated to a laundry list of names & titles, but no real mention is made of what these people do, other than sexually abuse the children in the group. Very disappo ...more
Jennifer Patrick
Disturbing, sick, gross........Yuck! I am curious at what point does sanity and good sense leave you and you join a cult that endorses pedophelia? This story mainly dealt with the young man who was raised in "The Family" to be the messiah of the next generation. Shockingly, a life time of sex abuse and witnessing what can only be described as perverted debauchery, he exploded in rage and murdered his former nanny. He then went on to take his own life. It was well written and the research was val ...more
Amber Kozlowski
Jul 21, 2012 Amber Kozlowski rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those interested specifically in the Children of God/Family International cult
Shelves: cults, religion, 2010
I read Not Without My Sister: The True Story of Three Girls Violated and Betrayed before this book, and I'm very thankful I did because I doubt I would have had much interest in Jesus Freaks otherwise.

The book was informative, but mostly about the histories of a few people involved in the cult. It definitely comes across as much research-based than memoir/crime-based.

It just doesn't grab you. Unless you have previously read a book about Children of God cult, I wouldn't suggest this. Even if you
An impressive product of reporting on a bizarre and disturbing cult. The central character's murder-suicide rampage becomes understandable once we learn of the shocking abuse his family (and The Family, which is what the cult calls itself) subjected him to.
Aubrey Hales-Lewis
Very sad true story about a boy raised in a cult to be the prophet, only to be so damaged by the abuse he suffered that he gave up his life. There are some very sick people in this world.
Brandi Leroy
Good read

tragic tale.
those poor souls. I think the author did an excellent job telling the story of these young people.

Clarissa Cochran
i loooooooove reading about cults. watching documentaries about them.
and i love diane sawyer.

so, i'm pretty sure i saw this cult story on tv one night and went to the bookstore immediately. i even forgot to call to see if they had it. or where it would be.

i found it in religion. awesome.

i watched all the youtube stuff.

i still do not in any way understand how these people thought any of this was ever normal or insanely reasonable. and that a person could command that kind of control is hard to
This should have been a riveting story about a strange cult. But I really had a hard time engaging with the writing and found it a bit of a slog.
Frustrating in its structure and pace.
Karen E.
Most of what happened in this book took place during the time I was raising small children, so I'm afraid I missed most of it at the time. Jesus Freaks is about the Family, a group of evangelicals begun during the "Summer of Love" by a whacko to believed he could spread Jesus's love by having free sex among his followers and converts. It is hard not to think of Joseph Smith when you read about how this cult began. One would hope that what remains of the "powers that were" are either in jail or d ...more
Kristina Harper
This book is not particularly well written, and the author doesn't give much help in keeping straight the scores of people who appear in its pages. Not all writers can make the transition from newspaper journalism to full-length books, and that may be the problem here. I appreciate his extensive research into the lives of Family members, but in the end it took me years to finish this book, and that was through sheer force of will.
Corinne Halberg
Intriguing cult written from a boring, long winded, explanatory, journalistic point of view. I was captivated maybe once.
Katie McNichols
An incredibly sad story about one cult I found myself interested in. I read this right before I was accosted in a parking lot by two people who are still in this cult, trying to get me to come to their 'church'. Obviously, they were reluctant to call it a "cult", but, man was I glad I had all this information to say no thanks with!
Interesting subject, but I don't really feel the author did it justice. I really missed the background on the characters. Who were they really and where did they come from? At the end of the book, I learned very little about the key players in the Family of God.
Lisa Helsen
Very interesting. The sexual behavior with children is pretty disturbing. After finishing the book I found several good documentaries on Youtube and got to see a lot of the people who provided information for the book. Definitely worth reading.
Bethany Inoshita
While originally fascinated by the cult phenomenon, the sexual abuse was so very sad. Children ruined by pedophiles justifying abuse with religion made for a quick read. Left you feeling a little dirty just knowing such horrific people exist.
FREAKS! It's hard to say that I "liked" this book, but I'm sure glad that I read it. Well written, factual and FREAKY! Make sure you stock up on Tylenol PM before reading... I didn't sleep for a week thinking about these sickos.
Not the same as the DC talk book. Fascinating story of a cult and the detriment it did to its members along the way. Written by a journalist from a fair perspective. Worth reading if you're interested in fringe religions.
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Don Lattin is a freelance jounalist and a religion writer who seems to be hopelessly stuck in the sixties. He is one of the nation's leading reporters covering alternative religious movements and figures in America. Over the past three decades he has covered Peoples Temple leader Jim Jones, Branch Davidian prophet David Koresh, and Heaven's Gate founder Marshall Herff Applewhite. He has also writt ...more
More about Don Lattin...
The Harvard Psychedelic Club Distilled Spirits Following Our Bliss: How the Spiritual Ideals of the Sixties Shape Our Lives Today Distilled Spirits -- Getting High, Then Sober, With a Famous Writer, a Forgotten Philosopher, and a Hopeless Drunk Following Our Bliss

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