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American Exorcism: Expelling Demons in the Land of Plenty

3.61  ·  Rating Details ·  172 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
A guided tour through the burgeoning business of exorcism and the darker side of American life.
There is no other religious ritual more fascinating, or more disturbing, than exorcism. This is particularly true in America today, where the ancient rite has a surprisingly strong hold on our imagination, and on our popular entertainment industry. We’ve all heard of exorcism, se
Paperback, 336 pages
Published October 15th 2002 by Broadway (first published 2001)
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Jaime Contreras
This was a superb reading journey for a student of exorcism or anyone with an interest in the topic. The author, Michael Cuneo began the book as an opened-minded sociologist who is unsure about the rite and practice of exorcism. He tackles the rite of exorcism as practiced by Catholics, Evangelicals and Pentecostals. I found this book to be a wonderful history of modern exorcism, deliverance ministries and charismatic spiritual warfare. He also shines a light on some of the giants (Ed and Lorrai ...more
Cuneo approaches his controversial subject with a healthy helping of skepticism, as well as an engaging open-mindedness. This is both the book's strength and its downfall. There is no hard proof given one way or the other, and the fact that we are meant to blithely make up our own minds makes for an unsatisfying read. Still, considering the touchiness of the topic, admirably executed.
Oct 06, 2014 Ginger rated it liked it
The material gathered was interesting, and combined with a decent writing style, the book was a fun and quick read. There were problems with the analysis and commentary that annoyed me. First, the way the author described women just bugged me. There were comments about sexiness and women being dowdy. And the way he often described how women behaved was a tad sexist to be honest. Second, a clear bias towards Roman Catholics made him way more sympathic towards priest exorcists and lead to some rat ...more
Kyle Olbert
Mar 09, 2015 Kyle Olbert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was in 7th grade when I read this, so my memory of it is not perfect. Perhaps due to my age and perhaps due the fact that I attended a very small Catholic school that was governed by a nun who hinted on occasion that the devil was very real, I was totally taken in by this book. It didn't help that any questions about the Rite of Exorcism in religion class were met with a quick change of subject.

The author attempts to take a very objective tone in explaining the various theologies and politics
Mindi Rosser
Jun 22, 2011 Mindi Rosser rated it it was amazing
Are you enamored with the surreal, the untouchable, slightly sinister? If you are searching for a book that addresses the issue of exorcism and demonic possession from a journalistic standpoint, then American Exorcism (by Michael Cuneo) should be your must-read tome. Three hundred pages of various denominational exorcist interviews and 50+ personal exorcism viewings later, the author concludes his journey with his nearly noncommittal opinion. Whether you are a fan of the hyped classic, Hostage t ...more
Feb 02, 2008 Kirsten rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Kirsten by: Andrea
This is a re-read, but I needed it as a palate-cleanser after M. Scott Peck's Glimpses of the Devil. It's a fascinating study of the ways that the popular media fuels interest in exorcism and deliverance ministry. Cuneo argues compellingly that while concerns about demon possession have always been around, the release of "The Exorcist" (both the movie and the book) and Malachai Martin's blockbuster Hostage to the Devil sparked new media interest in exorcism, and in turn led many Americans to see ...more
Mar 01, 2012 Matthew rated it it was amazing
This is an interesting book for anyone interested in exorcism, specifically, or, more generally, the practice conservative (non-Eastern Orthodox) Christianity in the post-1960’s therapy-mad USA. Cuneo is sufficiently skeptical that the book reads well and does not slide to one side or the other (For instance, he does not say one way or another that demons exist; he merely states that he did not see any in the exorcisms/deliverances he observed.).

The book starts with a discussion of how the ideas
A solid piece on exorcism in America, surveying everything from Catholic exorcism to pentecostal "deliverance" ministries and examining the connection between pop culture, media, and exorcism in American society. Cuneo's main contention is that exorcism is a kind of religious consumerism, something Americans want based on expectations and scripts straight out of Hollywood. While his reporting is fair, sensitive, and open-minded, I was naggingly reminded that never once does he address the issue ...more
Edwina Hall Callan
Jan 11, 2014 Edwina Hall Callan rated it really liked it
Shelves: library-book, 2014
The Author casts a skeptical eye on this highly controversial subject, he doesn't seem to believe in possession but will give anyone the chance to prove him wrong.
What I enjoyed most about this book was learning about the many religions that he explored.
It boggles the mind to think of how much time he must have spent on research alone.
Besides telling us about various religions and their core beliefs, he also touches on everything from Sybil Leek to SRA to The Amityville Horror.
Highly recommende
Apr 28, 2016 Joe rated it really liked it
Very good read. The author presented some interesting information on exorcisms I didn't know about plus his personal experience with being present at exorcisms. He does derail off-topic for quite a bit into the history of the whole Charismatic movement in the Catholic Church though.
May 19, 2009 Anita rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Well done, easy to read. The author's voice is objective, sees the human in all of it. Never "sees" the supernatural despite the claims of the religious to the contrary. Good balance between protestant & catholic as well as mild to extreme and the attitudes that factor into the approaches. This book shows the power of group-think (or non-think). Author seems compassionate toward his subjects, humanistic, but he also gently points out the whackiness of the practice, exorcism/deliverance. He c ...more
Oct 23, 2009 aya rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
i was pleasantly surprised that this book was not just a badly written, sensational piece of fluff. cuneo clearly did his research and writes in a mildly academic manner. most thankfully, he is a hard sell, not overeager to validate the stories of heads spinning and bodies levitating and in fact, at the end of the book, still extremely skeptical of the existence of demons.
still, the book gets quite repetitive and despite the fact that he is a professor, never gets deep enough or academic enough
Aug 06, 2007 Bryce rated it really liked it
I stumbled across this book while doing research for a sociology class.

The idea that exorcisms are still being sought out and performed on a wide scale is a bit disturbing. The fact that a lot of the people seeking them out are (supposedly) educated middle-class Americans is every more disturbing. Just the next step in the American idea that Nothing Is Your Fault. "I was molested as a child" is so last year. Now it's "the devil made me do it."
Apr 04, 2014 Jewel rated it liked it
My concerns with this book were that it might be too campy, or at the other end, too academic. I didn't find it to be in either of those categories, but I did find it to be a bit dull.
It seems to be well documented, and well cited, including a huge range of figures related to the history of exorcism and deliverance practices in America. If you're interested in that history, this book might be worth a read for you.
Dec 03, 2007 Susan rated it really liked it
Interesting sociological look at the phenomeon of exorcism in the U.S. Cuneo discusses types of exorcisms occurring in various parts of the country and various religions offering exorcisms. He also accompanies a few exorcists as they weed out the psychological cases from those deemed to be actual and sits in on a few exorcisms. He doesn't sensationalize but rather draws reasonable conclusions from his experiences.
The author has studied the 'phenomenon' of exorcisms in America in the mid to late 20th century. An interesting view of life, at times quite unflattering. The views are unbiased although some of the author's scepticism does seem to creep into the narrative. Well worth reading whether you believe in demon possession or not
Grady Hendrix
Sep 30, 2008 Grady Hendrix rated it it was amazing
Research. But still, is good to learn that many Americans think that there is a demon inside their heads. Is sad that demons are not for sale in pet stores. But is ok. Can maybe find one in North Carolina according to book. Fun fact: instead of Friday night bingo, some churches like to have group vomiting sessions.
Sep 27, 2013 Jackie rated it liked it
This is probably the best book on exorcisms & deliverance written by an academic. Cuneo is honest and comprehensive in his research, and the book has the flow of a story - definitely not a dry analysis. It's a great introduction into a subset of American culture that most of us never knew existed.
Miramira Endevall
Oct 02, 2011 Miramira Endevall rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wishlist
I can not say enough good things about this book. It made me re-think my family's beliefs about demons and hauntings and was very formative. A must-read for any recovering or questioning Pentecostal or Charismatic Christian.
Jun 08, 2015 Nikki rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very insightful read. Doesn't get into the nitty gritty of what happens but gives you a lot about the history of Exorcisms in America and the different ways different religions go about expelling demons.
Jul 14, 2013 Jessica rated it it was amazing
The skeptical yet open tone of this book was very appealing to me. I was exorcised at my baptism and this was the first source I have found that didn't glamorize exorcism.
Conrad Zero
Nov 02, 2008 Conrad Zero rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Demonologists studying Exorcism, and Sociologists studying Americans
Shelves: non-fiction
My review of "American Exorcism" by Michael Cuneo can be found on my website:

Curtis Glenn Heath
Well written account of the uprising of evangelical, pentacostal, and charismatic movements in American politics and churches. Scarier than actual demons.
Rie Reed
Dec 01, 2007 Rie Reed rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
This book is simply... phenomenal. It's a no smoke and mirrors, real world look at what exorcism stands for in modern America and how it affects our culture.
Dec 21, 2014 Linda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kind of ruins the creepiness of a lot of movies for me, but it's hard to believe in demons after reading this book.
Aaron Carlberg
Someone who watched many exorcisms and his take on the American style.
Apr 06, 2009 theghostwriter rated it liked it
Informative investigation in the US on exorcisms
Jan 01, 2009 Adrienna rated it it was ok
Shelves: research
Research purposes only.
Jun 01, 2011 Shannon rated it it was ok
Jim McGrath
Jim McGrath marked it as to-read
Sep 21, 2016
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