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The Witness Wore Red: The 19th Wife Who Brought Polygamous Cult Leaders to Justice

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3.93  ·  Rating Details  ·  5,593 Ratings  ·  664 Reviews
Rebecca Musser grew up in fear, concealing her family's polygamous lifestyle from the "dangerous" outside world. Covered head-to-toe in strict, modest clothing, she received a rigorous education at Alta Academy, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints' school headed by Warren Jeffs. Always seeking to be an obedient Priesthood girl, in her teens she b ...more
Hardcover, 332 pages
Published September 10th 2013 by Grand Central Publishing
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Petar X
Totally rewritten 8 April 2016. This is a house-that-jack-built book as far as believing in terrible and incredible events goes. I tend to believe it in it's entirety and it completes her sister, Elissa Wall's book Stolen Innocence. The author's brother, Cole, who also left the FLDS has written his own desperate book saying, "It wasn't like that, it really wasn't". However, even if only half the abuse was true, it would still be horrifying. Further even if only Warren Jeffs tape of his abusing h ...more
Missy
Oct 31, 2013 Missy rated it it was amazing
This book made me so mad!! The leaders of the FLDS church are the worst kind of evil, hypocritical, selfish low-lifes. My heart ached for the women and female children who are abused physically, emotionally and sexually. They are brainwashed into believing that their entire existence is worthwhile only as far as they are able to please the men. Anytime the supposed "prophet" got something wrong - a prophecy that wasn't fulfilled, etc. - he blamed it on the people saying they weren't righteous en ...more
Amanda
A long and richly detailed account of a woman born into a polygamous cult, and her story of how she escaped! It's well written and sheds a lot of light onto a very mysterious culture. I know much more about the background of the FLDS after reading, and still I am impressed at the amount of respect Rebecca Musser continues to have for her people, despite the fact that many friends and family members have shunned her.

She does a great job of convincing the reader that the average members of the ch
...more
Marya
Oct 07, 2013 Marya rated it liked it
Shelves: adult-nonfiction
This book has the interesting POV of being written by both the member with the highest and lowest social status. As the 19th wife of the leader of the FLDS, Rebecca Musser never wanted for food, clothing, or shelter (as a wife). She also clearly had access to wealth as she went horseback riding, hiking, ATV-riding, and went back and forth between Utah and Arizona courtesy of a Lear jet. Many members of the community showed her deference and she had a great deal of relative freedom.

On the other h
...more
Erin Krol gustafson
Sep 16, 2013 Erin Krol gustafson rated it it was amazing
I have read just about every book there is to read about the FLDS. Rebecca's book gives insight into what it's like inside the Prophet's home as well as additional insight into the Texas raid. What strikes me the most is the respect and love with which Rebecca holds her "people" despite the abuse she sustained within the culture. She's able to separate the truly bad from those who are born and indoctrinated into this craziness and know nothing else. Rebecca's most interesting insight, I believe, ...more
Catherine Richmond
What a powerful - and disturbing - true story!

I never want to hear the word "sweet" again. This cult forced women to be "sweet" - compliant, silent, obedient. But being sweet is not being holy. Jesus respected women and answered their questions. He never demanded "sweet" of us.

And don't ever get between a woman and her Lord. This cult set up one megalomaniac pervert as a prophet next to God - that's spiritual abuse. Jesus had some harsh words for those who do this - it would be better for them
...more
Stephanie
Jan 18, 2014 Stephanie rated it it was ok
Shelves: adult-nonfiction
I feel guilty I didn't like this book more than I did. I'm always a little weary when autobiographies or personal retelling of events contain so much dialogue. Did she really remember those conversations? I doubt it - at least not word for word.

The book is barely interesting, and Musser and her co-author get very wordy in some places. I've been on the waiting list for this book at the library since it was released, and it certainly didn't match my expectations. I appreciate Musser leaving the FL
...more
Melissa
Jul 20, 2016 Melissa rated it it was amazing
So glad people had the guts to stand up to this oppression. It went on for way too long. We all need to know this history so it's not allowed to happen again.
Aaj
Jan 07, 2014 Aaj rated it it was amazing
I consider myself an avid reader. It is rare that a week goes by that I don't read at least one book. This is by far the best non-fiction book I've read in years. It was well thought out and very nicely written.

It's not divided into parts, but it does have three distincts sections to me:
- Growing up in the FLDS
- Escaping to the "real world"
- Civic involvement post FLDS

A few people have questioned the truthfulness of this book and one reviewer called it "tablod" or "salacious" and I completely di
...more
Dana
Sep 22, 2013 Dana rated it it was amazing
Ever since the raid on the YFZ ranch in Eldorado, Tx brought the FLDS into the spotlight, I have been interested in and reading books about this group. This book, "The Witness Wore Red" tells Rebecca Musser's story. She was raised in the FLDS and at age 18 was married to Rulon Jeffs, their Prophet, who at the time was 85 years old. After Rulon's death, when his son Warren Jeffs told Becky that he would marry her either to himself or someone else and that he would "break" her, she fled from the g ...more
Chris
Oct 19, 2014 Chris rated it it was ok
Shelves: biography-memoir
Fascinating story, and Becky Musser was really brave to tell it (and to live it!), but I had some problems with the book. I'm not a nonfiction reader AT ALL, and as much as I want to read memoirs and autobiographies, I never like them. A couple of problems for me. I have a really lousy memory myself, but I can't imagine that the details remembered in this book, without a journal or diary to refer to, could be remembered truly. Also, I realize that Ms. Musser is not a writer, but she did have hel ...more
Cindy Garza
Nov 11, 2013 Cindy Garza rated it it was ok
Oddly, the whole thing seemed to work while Rulon Jeffs, the paterfamilias, was alive, but his son then got a little greedy with the wives and the proclamations, and the widowed author had had enough and eloped with somebody else. She doesn't reflect much about why it still goes on, except to state the obvious, that it seems normal when you're raised that way. Or why she needed another man to help her escape from the whole thing.
This could have been an interesting look at how the FLDS culture o
...more
tara
It's easy for me to give this book 5+ stars because I could relate to so many of the details throughout it based on similar childhood and early adulthood.

I don't even know where to begin with a full review for this book right now. I'll have to give it some more thought before I lay it all out. But for now, at least I can say that this author is an amazingly strong woman and more importantly a genuine human being. That goes a long way, at least, in MY book.
Amanda
Jun 11, 2014 Amanda rated it it was ok
“The Witness Wore Red” tells the story of Rebecca Musser who was born, married into, and escaped polygamy. After her escape “Becky” makes it her mission to bring down polygamist leader Warren Jeffs and the network of individuals who caused her and other young women and girls so much pain.

Becky appears to be a very brave woman, and I have nothing but respect for her accomplishments. However…

1. The degree of direct quotation and detail is not realistic for a memoir. Unless she carried a tape reco
...more
Melanie Rigney
Sep 12, 2013 Melanie Rigney rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
I liked the author's voice. She did a nice job of showing the conflict she felt about leaving a life that was by turns abusive and happy for a new world. I also liked that the book wasn't particularly salacious... and didn't present that all her problems were solved once she left. I also appreciate your passion for fighting human trafficking.
Lynn
Dec 18, 2013 Lynn rated it it was amazing
Today’s nonfiction post is on The Witness Wore Red: The 19th wife who brought polygamous cult leaders to justice by Rebecca Musser and M. Bridget Cook. It is 340 and is published by Grand Central Publishing. The cover has two pictures on it on top one of Rulon Jeffs with his many other -wives wives and Rebecca colored in red and on bottom with her standing wearing red as she is going to testify against Warren Jeffs. The intended reader is someone who is interested in this case, cults in America, ...more
Cindy
Nov 15, 2013 Cindy rated it liked it
Reading this book was like not being able to look away from a train wreck. I've always been a little curious about the FLDS community, wondering what could make them live the way they do. After reading the book it seems that for many of the men, the answer is obvious. (And in many cases over the last decade, illegal.) I think for the women & children the answer is more complicated--that what started as a genuine belief in the correctness of the doctrine was made stronger by the use of fear t ...more
Rachel (TheShadesofOrange)
3.5 Stars
This is story about a courageous woman who followed her beliefs and stood up to the LDS leadership. Personally, this memoir went into more detail than I felt was necessary. Some of the sections dragged. I would have preferred a tighter, more edited narrative Yet, Rebecca was still an incredibly brave person with an important story to tell.

I would recommend this to people who are fascinated by the culture of institutionalized polygamy and wish to learn more about the recent history of t
...more
Kay Cochran
Jan 08, 2016 Kay Cochran rated it it was amazing
This book has a power to it that's rich and embodies a beautiful consciousness. Rebecca's memory is wonderful and this account is told in a way that makes you believe in the humanity within the FLDS circles. These people honestly believe, and they have very real and chaotic conditioning that plays into both that belief and basic, human, emotional desire. This cult was (still is?) so full of hate and malice towards the female gender--but in a backhanded way. This brings that plight to the forefro ...more
Callie Rose Tyler
This was interesting and also horrifying. My only criticism is that it went on just a hair too long.

The first half of the book is absolutely riveting as the author recounts growing up in an abusive FLDS Polygamist family. Her father's first wife was a grade A villain. The intricacies of the 'religion' where fascinating and the author does a great job of showing her growth through out the book. At the beginning she is just a girl. She is controlled by her father, his first wife, and as she gets
...more
Natalia
Apr 24, 2014 Natalia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook, 2014
I read "Stolen Innocence" a couple of years ago, and as I was listening to this audiobook, there were pieces that sounded familiar. It was only about halfway through that I realized that Rebecca Musser and Elissa Wall were sisters. While they were both good books, and both cover many of the same incidents, I think The Witness Wore Red is the stronger book of the two (Possibly because Musser was older and had more distance from her experiences when she wrote her book than Wall did)

Anyway, it's a
...more
Wendy
May 25, 2014 Wendy rated it really liked it
I think I that I am fascinated by FLDS (and other sects such as even those gentle Amish) because basically I was raised a feminist (by a woman who treasured the concept but has never really been able to entirely live it). I could never understand how a woman could live under the thumb of a man…even though the woman I was raised by…kinda sort did… and I kinda sorta understand that too. In thinking about religion and patriarchy and FLDS…I first think that this is about men’s power over women and s ...more
Tracy
Jan 05, 2014 Tracy rated it liked it
I had been interested in reading about Mormons earlier this year and picked up Jon Krakauer's book, which was too much about the fundamentalist polygamous sect compared to what I was interested in at the time.

This book, by Becky Musser, who left the sect at age 27, tells of her upbringing and her break with the sect as well as much of her family. The first 150 pages talks about growing up and marrying Rulon Jeffs (Warren Jeffs's father) the 19th of over 40 wives. She then talks about her break
...more
Havebooks Willread
Jan 14, 2014 Havebooks Willread rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir, non-fiction
In a word, it was disturbing.

As much as I might like to think I would never be a victim like this, I am also well aware that with different conditioning and upbringing, I might also allow myself--even worse, my daughter(s)--to be given as a child bride to a dirty old man. My inward cynicism which I try to keep pushed down is baited by stories like this, when dictatorial men rule with an iron fist and use religion to assuage their lust for power and sex--more and more sex, with younger and younge
...more
Laurel
Feb 21, 2014 Laurel rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alicia Marie
This was a 2 star read for me. I did learn new things about the inner workings of FLDS, but the interesting facts were few and far between. This read more like a self-praise book written solely for the author to bask in her greatness. Don't get me wrong, her story is brave and inspiring. I just feel her approach to tell the story seemed to glamorize herself instead of informing others about the inner workings of the FLDS.

Read my full review on this and other books on my book review blog!
www.boo
...more
Ari
Jul 05, 2016 Ari rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2016
Pretty fascinating story, although I find biographies about being stuck in this lifestyle fascinating.
Christine
Jul 08, 2014 Christine rated it it was amazing
This story is haunting to say the least. I grew up in Utah and I can honestly say that I had only ever really heard whispers of the FLDS and didn't know what they were about until I read this book. It's terrifying to realize that someone like Warren Jeffs could obtain power over a group of people and then use that power to justify his own sick desires, meanwhile, those who could do something, stand by and do nothing because 'the prophet said'. I do aplaud the author's decision to let her mother ...more
Alison
Apr 04, 2016 Alison rated it liked it
Two or three stars for the writing style; five stars for the content (the courage this woman showed). Absolutely mind-boggling to think this horrific treatment of women and children was (still is) going on right in our own country and in this century.
Melissa
Jan 08, 2016 Melissa rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2016
This was a surprisingly good read. Definitely a page-turner, and not too badly written. Horrible beyond belief what Warren Jeffs did to people, especially women and children, in the name of religion.
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Rebecca Musser is a highly sought-after motivational speaker and agent for social revolution. She empowers women around the world to escape from bondage in all its forms, because as she has said, “I was once owned, too.”

Born into the FLDS, an extreme, isolated, polygamist sect of the Mormon faith, as a teenager she was forced in marriage to the 85-year-old prophet; destined to be his 19th wife of
...more
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“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.” 3 likes
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