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

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  9,363 ratings  ·  1,011 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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Petra X's driving in a Mustang GT to Key West
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
Oct 31, 2013 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
Mariah Roze
Mar 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was fantastic! It is a very long book, but it did not take me long to finish it. The author is a fantastic writer and she has had a crazy life. She helped bring a lot of FLDS leaders down and help them go to jail. Her story is amazing and I suggest it to everyone :)

"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 Fundame
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
Erin Krol
Sep 16, 2013 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
Oct 07, 2013 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
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
Sep 16, 2013 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
Sep 12, 2013 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
Jan 06, 2014 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
Oct 06, 2013 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
Jan 07, 2014 rated it it was ok
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 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
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.
Jul 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
WOW! A riveting, powerful story of one woman with immense strength. I've read many books about the FLDS, and this one actually pushed Jon Krakauer's fantastic Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith to second place among books on the topic.

This is the story of how Warren Jeffs got put away, told from the inside, before (growing up FLDS, 19th wife to the Prophet) and during (an escapee, assistant to the investigation, and witness at multiple hearings).

The tale is epic; breathtaking
Melanie Rigney
Sep 12, 2013 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. ...more
Jul 07, 2016 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. ...more
Dec 11, 2013 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
Callie *Fights Censorship*
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
Dec 03, 2013 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
Nov 15, 2013 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 tacti ...more
Jun 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
So this quarantine, I’ve been watching a lot of youtube videos, about half of which are Bon Appétit or other food things, and the other half are Escaping Polygamy on Lifetime (or Korean shows about escaping North Korea). I promise, I live in a very loving and safe home; I have no plans to escape—I think it’s just the quarantine craziness, idk.
I work at a used bookstore with a lot of overstock books, and this was one of those books. I would handle a bunch of copies depending on what order I was
Jan 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
For me, this was an eye opening story. I knew very little about the FLDS going into this and wasn't very familiar with the. If news story that came from Becky Musser's story (I know I am terrible about keeping up with big news events. It's sad).

It feels odd for me to say, "This was a great story and I couldn't put it down." Although it is true it feels wrong to say when the subject matter is so sad and even ripped my heart out at times. I was sickened by the acts several people were capable of.
Jan 05, 2014 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
Apr 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
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
Havebooks Willread
Jan 14, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
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
Feb 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Doreen Petersen
Oct 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: religion
What an outstanding book! A definite must read for all!!
Erin *Help I’m Reading and I Can’t Get Up*
Really well-written and compelling. Memoirs are hard; this one succeeds.
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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

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