Hostage To The Devil: The Possession And Exorcism Of Five Living Americans
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

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

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  781 ratings  ·  123 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)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Hostage To The Devil, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Hostage To The Devil

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,726)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
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...more
J.S. Bailey
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...more
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
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
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...more
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...more
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.
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...more
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....
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...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...more
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...more
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
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...more
Dan Beck
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...more
Giovanna Barreto
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
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!
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.
Giovanni Calabro
Aug 28, 2007 Giovanni Calabro rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Adults
It really doesn't matter if you are Catholic or not...this book will make your skin crawl. Malachi Martin, a Jesuit priest, writes about 5 cases of exorcism in more of a psychiatric tone than religious. It is absolutely rivetting and really scary.
Written from an allegedly Catholic perspective (see below though for my doubts), these stories have interesting moments, and at times are genuinely freaky! I was most struck by "Uncle Ponto and The Mushroom Souper," about a radio DJ who is "befriended" by a familiar named Uncle Ponto who manifests as an ugly, but almost-affable little man. Despite being an ethereal spirit visible only to the DJ, Uncle Ponto exhibits the personality of an extremely co-dependent human being: begging for attention,...more
Sashank Poduval
I do have to say the I thoroughly enjoyed Martin's narrative style and the 5 case studies which include peeps into the exorcee's past that ultimately lead to a possession.

But for me there was too much emphasis on an intensely Christian(Catholic) faith.This work bordered to the point of being irrelevant to people like me from another culture/faith.

The last case on Parapsychology and the power of Tortoise's illusions on Carl's mind was literally the tipping point. I couldn't help but relate the e...more
The book tells us in a nutshell that the too much to handle.for the Catholic church. Exorcisms are fairly easily handled by pious Muslims quite frequently, so this fear-inducing book that tells us that satan is bigger than us, is a big put off. Allah says in the Qur'an "It is but Satan who instils into you fear of his allies; so fear them not, but fear Me, if you are truly believers." (3:175).
Qur'anic verse 2:255 is an invincible defense against all forms of evil, demons included. I wou...more
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
The first story was pretty good. After that, I found myself skipping ahead and skimming because the story was slow and just wasn't doing anything for me.
Christine Young
I'd give this story a 3.5. It was well written and the imagery at times is wonderful, however there are many parts of this book that drag on endlessly. A lot of the paragraphs are repetitive and long winded and just make the story seem never ending. The stories were however, entertaining. The truth to them would depend on the reader I suppose. I found the religious aspects rather long winded, and as an atheist I find the whole "god" "devil" parts interesting (although also VERY long and over des...more
Edwina Hall Callan
Very slow paced. I kept nodding off while reading this.
Definitely not for the fainthearted.

The book documented five true-to-life cases of possession and exorcism of a priest, a highly intellectual psychic, a transvestite,a loner & a woman who struggles to attain her freedom.

I read it at night and decided to read it all the way til sunrise, afraid to let those stories linger in my mind. What made it really chilling is the thought of it being real. That it did happen to innocent (or not so innocent) people. It scared me better than Stephen King....more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 57 58 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Is this a true depiction of exorcism? 1 6 Apr 12, 2013 06:36AM  
  • Possessed: The True Story of an Exorcism
  • An Exorcist Tells His Story
  • Glimpses of the Devil: A Psychiatrist's Personal Accounts of Possession, Exorcism, and Redemption
  • The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist
  • The Demonologist: The Extraordinary Career of Ed and Lorraine Warren
  • Real Ghosts, Restless Spirits, and Haunted Places
  • The Haunted: One Family's Nightmare
  • The Gentling Box
  • Strange Angel: The Otherworldly Life of Rocket Scientist John Whiteside Parsons
  • Unexplained!: Strange Sightings, Incredible Occurrences & Puzzling Physical Phenomena
  • Graveyard: More Terrifying Than Stephen King - Because It's True!
  • The Hidden History of the Human Race - The condensed edition of Forbidden Archeology
  • Paranormal State: My Journey into the Unknown
  • The Stargate Conspiracy
  • The Encyclopedia of Demons and Demonology
  • The Serpent and the Rainbow
  • The Urantia Book
  • Grave's End: A True Ghost Story
The Jesuits: The Society of Jesus and the Betrayal of the Roman Catholic Church Windswept House Vatican Keys of This Blood: Pope John Paul II Versus Russia and the West for Control of the New World Order The Decline and Fall of the Roman Church

Share This Book

“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.” 3 likes
More quotes…