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Hostage To The Devil: The Possession And Exorcism Of Five Living Americans

3.95  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,161 Ratings  ·  157 Reviews
One On One With Satan

A chilling and highly convincing account of possession and exorcism in modern America, hailed by NBC Radio as "one of the most stirring books on the contemporary scene."

Paperback, 496 pages
Published 1988 by Arrow Books Ltd. (first published 1976)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,725)
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Mike (the Paladin)
Okay, my reasons for the low rating here may not be all that important to some. I may also be in the minority today in that I believe in evil (and yes an actual Satan). C.S.Lewis once observed (as have others) that the fact that no one believes in him is Satan's greatest advantage. Martin agrees with this and also says it.

I find I disagree with certain things said in the book about the nature of possession, the relief of it (exorcism if you will)and certain other details.

I have no problem with
J.S. Bailey
Jan 19, 2012 J.S. Bailey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are two books I have read in my brief life that truly frightened me. One is The Tailypo: A Ghost Story by Joanna C. Galdone, which I read in the third grade (scared the absolute crud out of eight-year-old Me, and even still makes me uneasy when I think about that evil little creature watching that man from the foot of his bed in the dark). The other is Hostage to the Devil: The Possession and Exorcism of Five Contemporary Americans by Malachi Martin.

Whether or not you are a skeptic in demo
Jul 28, 2011 Brian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have done quite a bit of research on possession for a story, and I can honestly say that this book actually scared me. I can list on one hand the amount of things in the world that scare me and this book easily made the list. My sister was so creeped out that she wouldn't even finish the book. Dr. Martin delivers on his harrowing tales of true demonic possession. He tackles the book objectively from both sides (much like a reporter) and lets the reader come to their own conclusions. Although p ...more
Mar 31, 2013 Shawn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a shocking account of possession, deviant psychology, and most importantly: the religious approach to combating it. I found this book in the footnotes to "People of the Lie" and found it to be another intriguing page-turner, but clearly something that I would not recommend just anyone to read. Some of the accounts are so diabolical that they descend into a depth of evil most of us would never even conceive of; and, quite frankly, are better off not even being exposed to, even in a book. ...more
Jul 01, 2010 Sistermagpie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This book really surprised me. I grabbed it from my boss's office to have something to read on the train--tales of five "true" American possessions? I was expecting something a lot less interesting than what I got.

I believe the book dates from the 70s. It's interesting to see how the attitudes of that time period clearly inform all the possessions. This being a book about exorcisms the book obviously takes the possession that Christianity is real and everyone really needs to rely on Jesus for to
Jul 24, 2010 Rhonda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology
Malachi Martin was an exceptional writer and a highly gifted and blessed Catholic theologian. His premature death was a great loss to a world desperately set on detroying itself. As a word of caution, this is not the book on which to start reading Martin. It is better to have an understanding of general spiritual warfare which is going on in the world today, perhaps better illustrated by his novels having to do with John Paul II and his efforts as pope.
With that being said, this book is an asto
Anna Janelle

Here I was thinking that I was comfortable in my retreat from childhood Catholicism into guilt-free adult agnosticism. Silly me. Then, I read this book and literally scared myself so much I was terrified to be in the house alone. Not that being in the same room as someone helped too much. I'm pretty much uncomfortable and filled with terror all the time now. Thanks Malachi Martin. I appreciate that.


Five accounts of real Catholic exorcisms that occurred in the United States as late as the ninetee
Nathan Brown
I would like to start off by saying that this book is VERY well written, and that I found Martin's narrative style an excellent fit for this kind of creative nonfiction. HOWEVER, I also felt that a lot of the stories he tells, along with how he tells them, are too heavily influenced/biased by Catholic politics & dogma ...which kind of bugged me through my reading of the book.
Oct 03, 2014 joel rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
(** 2.5 stars downgraded to 2 because, well, I can't actually give it a 2.5-star review and I was instructed once to always round down.)

So, here's the deal.

I've two points of critique with this one. The first pertains to the actual writing of the book. Too often, Martin seems overly interested in amping up the drama of what can only be described as an already-dramatic situation [the possessions & exorcisms of the book's five subjects]. He takes three or four paragraphs to describe what he co
Mar 17, 2014 Kimberly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Malachi martin, before going into further detail on the cases, gives very useful information that enlightens the reader. The information he gave educated you to understand possession and exorcism. For example, he specifically details the understanding of demonic possession in the beginning of the book in a section called “A Brief Handbook of Exorcism.” He states, “The truth is that all three- the possessed, the possessing spirit, and the exorcist- bear a close relation to the reality of life an ...more
Bev Walton-Porter
Never thought I'd ever say I found a book on demons and exorcism boring, but I have. You have to work hard at making stories of supposed real-life possessions and church-sanctioned exorcism mind-numbingly tedious, but Malachi Martin's "Hostage to the Devil" succeeded.

This is allegedly a nonfiction book, so recount the facts and quit the purple prose and repetitive elaboration about things that drag the stories down. I understood what you meant the first time; no need to repeat it ten different
Jason Golomb

On the other side of the coin— Lucifer’s side— the belief that he does not exist at all is an enormous advantage that he has never enjoyed to such a great degree. It is the ultimate camouflage. Not to believe in evil is not to be armed against it. To disbelieve is to be disarmed. If your will does not accept the existence of evil, you are rendered incapable of resisting evil. Those with no capacity of resistance become prime targets for Possession.
- from Malachi Martin's "Hostage to the Devil"

Well, the fascination ended. I got stuck around page 250 and found myself picking up other books instead. After months of it sitting on my bedside table, untouched, I think it's time to throw in the towel. It really grabbed me at first, but I just ran out of steam on it. I'm still fascinated by the strong belief people have in demonic possession; if only I didn't have so many other good-looking books on my shelf waiting to be read....
Tobin Elliott
To be fair, I had to stop about halfway through this book. I simply couldn't read it anymore. It had come highly recommended, and I understand why (the subject matter), but the author's hamfisted narrative style, along with the insanely judgemental attitude (unless you are straight, god-fearing, and do nothing but missionary sex, then praise Jesus afterward, you are a ripe candidate for possession by the devil), I couldn't hack the endless pages of history of how each person fell slowly under th ...more
This observation refers to the original purchased and read in 1976. I obtained this book after having read The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty William Peter Blatty William Peter Blatty

I believe I remember seeing Malichi Martin on the tonight show where he was discussing the release of his book. It's been awhile ago but I believe he brought a audio tape of an actual exorcism as well. And that was definitely enough to raise the hackles on the back of my neck.

It was enough to bring the possibility of EVIL existing as a separate entity into my thought
Mar 05, 2013 Rebecca rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: unfinished
I had never heard of Malachi Martin until I read M. Scott Peck's excellent Glimpses of the Devil. He talked about Father Martin as his mentor and teacher, and so when I saw this at a book sale I picked it up.

I know that nonfiction writers who are dealing with sensational topics try to tone things down, but this was boring...or, really, banal. I couldn't even finish it. It just went on and on and on, without really going anywhere. The whole work is so intensely Catholic that it's irrelevant to an
Anita Dalton
You know, had this book been written by anyone but the late Malachi Martin, I would think it just a cheesy look at bizarre belief. But for some reasons, I like Martin and considered him a sincere believer who may have been a good showman but at least backed his show with some actual insider information and genuine belief. He was also a pretty good writer. I am not a believer in demonic possession but Martin was able to write in such a gripping manner that I was able to suspend disbelief and just ...more
Sep 11, 2013 Todd rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A disappointing book. I had heard good things about Malachi Martin's reliability as a reporter on issues related to the Catholic Church, but I can't believe it to be true. His views are highly skewed, not allowing for a moment's disbelief. I suppose I should have expected that from a book written by a priest. However, his focus was clearly on the struggle of the priests performing the exorcisms and not so much on those who were supposedly possessed by demons. It seemed tragic that the possessed ...more
Annie Raaen
Currently reading the last case, I've definately learned a lot about exorcism if what Martin wrote is true. I'm slightly irked by the way he chose to write these cases as, in some instances, it's extremely hard for me to wrap my mind around what is going on. Most of the action is internal, spiritual and emotional warfare with the priests and, to a lesser degree, the posessed.
It's a highly disturbing book...dark and brooding. Martin did a great job of pulling me into the middle of these cases, a
Jul 30, 2015 Ryan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is not a book for children or the faint of heart. But I can tell you, after knowing and working with a number of Protestant ministers as a Protestant seminarian and intern, Martin has helped me appreciate my return to the Catholic Church. When I'm in a particularly sadistic and self-loathing mood I'll go back and read some of the mega-pastors I used to follow as a protestant preacher in training. I recently laughed out loud as I thought of ANY of them standing for 21 hours straight eyeball ...more
Dan Beck
Jun 02, 2007 Dan Beck rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have some weird fascinations-- for instance, I am fascinated by possession and exorcism, and I have no idea why. Actually, that's not true. I think it's because I believe in the concept of "evil" being some sort of entity that exists in the universe (in the form of the devil and his demons) and I guess I believe that given the right person and the right circumstances, this evil can possess people. This idea, to me, is far scarier than zombies or vampires or werewolves. I've read a bunch of boo ...more
Utterly Undead Reads
Snoozefest-too bogged down with unnecessary details about nothing important- did not finish

I was excited to read this, as I find the concepts of possession and exorcism fascinating. This was a sorely disappointing read that I returned to the library unfinished.

I made it about half way into the second case, but I stopped there because I was bored to tears. I understand the importance of knowing pertinent bits of the exorcist's background, but it seems as though more page space is given to inane f
Giovanna Barreto
Mar 18, 2014 Giovanna Barreto rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this book. I wouldn't recommend it to people that get scared easily. I also wouldn't recommend it to people that don't like suspense. This book keeps me really entertained. I honestly wasn't bored at all, I always wanted to know more. I didn't know how exorcisms worked and it really surprised me to find out how they feel. Malachi Martin, in the book, talks about a brief handbook of exorcism. In it he describes what happens and how it feels. I was really surprised but yet entertain ...more
Jan 13, 2015 a-maze rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: psychological/spiritual side of posession
I have to be honest...I expected much more from this book after reading many reviews... but it end up being a bit dense for my taste. I found it hard to finish it, cause in some parts it got a bit boring and not creepy.

Dont get me wrong, its well written, it has some religious information about demons and possession, but I prefer creepier stories, with darker description of things.
This is like a "surgical/forensic" way of describing each possession. He focus on 5 different cases. In each one you
Jan 11, 2016 George rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, horror, 2016
One of the funniest books I’ve read in a long time. According to the author, Say-tan (one of this book’s many gems is learning the correct way to say the Devil’s name in case you’re ever at a Black Mass) has been a busy boy. Among other things, the author believes that the Satanic Panic of the early 80’s really happened; one of the many signs that far from writing a serious religious treatise, he has penned a crackpot New Age book. There is quite a bit of material about the Satanic Scare of the ...more
Jacob Aitken
I do not accept everything Martin says. However, as factual renditions I think this work can be trusted. (The interpretation Martin gives of the scenarios is an entirely different matter)

Ontology of Spirit

When demonic presences “Make” sounds, the sounds do not come from anyone direction. Perhaps this is what Dallas Willard called “the unside.”

Helpful points

(1) Martin doesn’t call explicit attention to it, but 2 Cor. 10:3-5 speaks of intellectual warfare against strongholds, which refer, as many
Jan 15, 2009 Nathan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The fact that Martin himself is a Catholic theologian sheds a little doubt on what are extremely extraordinary accounts, and the embellished prose likewise detracts from a factual tone. Yet, taken at its word, this book forms a downright disturbing record of modern demonic possession and exorcism. Skeptics will probably not be convinced, but believers will be intrigued and, at points, terrified.
Troy Stephen Sanders
Not an easy book to get through, but perhaps one of the best reads on demonic possession I have ever experienced. Other books just seem to say the same things, almost like the authors have not done any research. This author was an exorcist and that alone sold me. If you have any interest at all in this subject this is one book you can not afford to miss. Buy it!
Bryan Ericson
Jan 30, 2016 Bryan Ericson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I checked this book out knowing that I might not get all the way through it. This book highlights five real life posessions and exorcisms. Told from the point of view of the priests that performed them, and the formerly posessed individuals. The author blames some of the conditions in current society for the "breakdown" of the moral fiber that led to siutations that allowed the five people to be posessed. This is pretty typical evangelical, and political conservative rhetoric. When you get past ...more
This book is so terrifying I had to buy it twice, throwing it away at first attempt, and picking another up years later. I never did read it all, and have no care to. Take it from one who has had first-hand experience with Evil, this is a true life horror, not to be taken lightly! NOT recommended for mere curiosity sake.
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“Reality' would not only be boring without spirit; it would have no meaning whatsoever. No horror film can begin to capture the horror of such a vision: a world without spirit.” 5 likes
“You are never quite at home in this human world ever again after an exorcism,” he said slowly. He sat down again and explained. After an exorcism the exorcist hears and sees and thinks and talks as he always did. But now he perceives on two planes. Spirit is everywhere. Flesh and matter is only “our picture” of what’s there. And it’s not all good. There’s evil and good hidden in that “picture.” After an exorcism you always know, if you didn’t know it before. You are now walking with double vision, a second sight, as the old people used to say.” 2 likes
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