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Captive: A Mother's Crusade to Save Her Daughter from the Terrifying Cult Nxivm

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  1,345 ratings  ·  166 reviews
Now updated with a new afterword, Captive is an emotional, ripped-from-the-headlines exposé that lays bare the secretive cult that shocked the world—for fans of Leah Remini’s Troublemaker and Lawrence Wright’s Going Clear.

I am a mother whose child is being abused and exploited. And I am not alone.

In 2011, former Dynasty star Catherine Oxenberg joined her daughter, India,
Audiobook, 320 pages
Published August 7th 2018 by Simon Schuster Audio
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Aug 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Captive: A Mother's Crusade to Save Her Daughter From a Terrifying Cult by Catherine Oxenberg is a 2018 Simon & Schuster publication.
I only follow the news sparingly these days. However, even if one only pops over to Facebook or Twitter for a moment, headlines and trending news or topics are unavoidable. I had seen the story about an actress involved in a sex cult, but didn’t take the bait. However, the story remained a hot topic for several days.

But, when I saw this book popping up here and t
Nov 26, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
1.5 stars !!

I struggled very much with this book. I found the writing too elementary and the analysis very simplistic and amateurish. I would have preferred a much more measured telling of this very challenging situation of an adult daughter becoming involved with the absurd and unbelievable cult of

I hope the family recovers from this ordeal.
Nxivm is basically a Scientology knockoff: pseudo-psychology self-help classes, celebrity endorsement, special terminology and acronyms, and one hell of a creepy leader. If you, like me, have a morbid fascination with cults, I HIGHLY recommend the CBC podcast Uncover: Escaping Nxivm. This podcast has been keeping me company lately on my commute and I just can’t get enough. When I saw Captive: A Mother’s Crusade to Save Her Daughter from a Terrifying Cult at the library, I snatched it up so fast ...more
Sep 14, 2018 rated it it was ok
Keith Raniere and ESP/NXIVM are despicable and must be stopped. The cult is dangerous and insideous. But Catherine Oxenberg’s account of her efforts to extract her daughter from its clutches seems to be more of an ego trip than about the process. She poses for the cameras, shops in high profile stores, talks incessantly of her royal heritage and makes some of the dumbest statements and choices imaginable. I was curious to read this because of some local connections that some cult members have, b ...more
Jan 03, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobooks
As I am absolutely fascinated by cults I had to pick this one up. I have seen/heard about NXIVM but after reading this book I learned more of their erratic tactics. I also learned more about Catherine herself as this is not all about the journey to save her daughter. It includes stories about the author’s past, bringing down the cult, and explaining/justifying her actions to name a few. Also, Catherine comes from a life of privilege so many of us can’t relate but one cannot deny her love for her ...more
Jun 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: true-crime
If you were in a cult, would you know it?
I had first heard about this case on the CBC podcast Uncovered. I found the book while browsing on my kindle. It's so interesting that a strong woman who shares my same beliefs was unable to stop her daughter from getting sucked into this. The book covered more stories than the first part of the podcast and was really absorbing.
Sep 11, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
NXIVM, from my understanding, is a relatively new cult that hasn’t been completely dismantled and exposed. The only reason I learned about it was because of Allison Mack’s involvement. I was a huge Smallville fan when it was premiering, so I was disappointed to learn of her intimate involvement. I’ve always been interested in cults. How they work, their tactics, and how they identify and manipulate potential members. So when I learned about Oxenberg’s book, I knew I had to read it.

I mistakenly w
Lisa Davis
Aug 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Yes, this book is an incredible expose of the craziness of the NXIVM cult, and yes, there are things in here to make your jaw drop open, but ultimately what is so powerful about this book is how one mother did anything and everything to bring her daughter back from the brink.
Sep 02, 2018 rated it did not like it
Listened to on Audible : I can’t believe I made it as long as I did. This book was awful and boring. If the author spoke more about her child instead of herself I might have been able to feel badly for her.
Aug 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Catherine Oxenberg, actress, previously starred in Dynasty as the character Amanda Carrington. She decides in 2011 to attend a Nxium seminar with her oldest daughter, India, not realizing that this will change their lives forever. Little did they know that this supposed self-help organization turned out to be a full-blown cult, and her daughter becomes very deeply involved in it. As her daughter drifts further away from Catherine and their family, Catherine becomes horrified when she finds out w ...more
R.L. Bailey
Without a doubt the cult is a fascinating story, but you won't get much more than what the gossip sites have told you already here. Instead we get the author almost trying to defend herself for her daughter joining. ...more
Aug 20, 2018 rated it liked it
I picked this book up because I'd seen bits of the 20/20 piece on Nxivm and was shocked by Allison Mack's participation in it. My heart goes out to the author and her daughter, and their story made me sick to my stomach, but the book itself was...erratic? It seemed to jump around a lot, so much so that I couldn't follow the timeframe in which many events occurred. It was a bit confusing. I'm glad Ms. Oxenberg got her story out there because it's an important one, but the book was just okay. ...more
Sep 23, 2019 rated it did not like it
I wanted to like this book because I love stories about people being rescued from cults. And I just read a timely piece in People magazine about this "religion" called Nxivm, so I knew it was a real thing. But I just couldn't finish it because the author is so deluded. She keeps describing the cult as being sexist and ridiculous. She is critical of every aspect of the lessons she is taught and the classes she takes. She describes herself as constantly objecting to the theories being pushed. And ...more
Jul 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The writing is good but it's the story that earns this book 5 stars. ...more
Nov 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
More details than some of the other books on this topic have given, and better writing. This story is so nuts, and I applaud the author’s effort to free her daughter from Nxivm.
Oct 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
I have always been interested in how people get drawn into cults, why they can't see what they are! This was pretty much the same as others I have read about except that India's mother, Catherine Oxenberg and her father were also involved for a while. Catherine felt the bad vibes first, pulled away and tried to make India see the light - didn't work, but she would not give up trying to make her see the truth of the pseudo guru, Keith Raniere (Vanguard) even after he has stripped her of her fortu ...more
Katie Buckingham
Very interesting read. Well written and easy to follow. It just happened in 2018 so fresh and current!
Dec 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I give five stars because it was truly enjoyable (ehhh... enjoyable? More like fascinating) to listen to, and I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. I recommend the audiobook, to hear in the authors own words and voice (plus the gorgeous accent is quite a treat). I wish some books could have six stars, because that would make my FIVE stars here make more sense. I don't think it's a 6-star book (Great work of literature), nor do I think it's a 4-star book.

It's well-researched and well-writ
Amie's Book Reviews
I listened to this book as an audiobook which was narrated by the author. This choice to have Catherine Oxenberg narrate her own memoir was an inspired one.
I doubt that any professional narrator could have done a better job than Catherine did.
The reason I think this is because Catherine was narrating events of such emotionally charged incidents that as a mother, she could not help but infuse the words with a depth of emotion that no one who had not experienced them would be able to convey the
Jan 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
When I first started listening I felt like I was watching the Scientology show with Leah Remini. Not that they sound anything alike, but how this cult uses classes to better yourself or for business, but you have to pay to level up, just like moving up the bridge in Scientology.

This must have been a terrifying experience for Catherine Oxenberg. I did quite a bit of research and wrote a paper for school showing that gangs and cults are very similar in recruiting and the family aspect. I have als
Elizabeth Olesh
Aug 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love books about cults, and this one is extra-special because Nxivm was born and bred in New York!

What's great about this books is that Oxenberg started attending Nxivm meetings with her daughter, India, but then decided it was just too weird, so you get the inside perspective as well as the story of a mother trying to save her child.
Lisa Black
Aug 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
I read this book as research for a book I’m writing about a self-help cult, but I really enjoyed it. It’s easy to read and well worth it to get some of the inside scoop on exactly how Nexivm progressed in its brainwashing. I wish her daughter would write one.

I couldn’t put it down.
Leslie Johnson
Feb 10, 2020 rated it it was ok
I wanted to read this book because I was interested in learning more about the Nxivm cult that has been all over the media and involved Allison Mack. I thought that this book could provide some insight on the inner-workings of the cult and how they gained so many followers. Instead, this is a book with a lot of second-hand information the author received from former followers, a bunch of exaggerated hypothetical what-ifs from the author's mind and a lot of excuses. There is also a tremendous amo ...more
Laura Starks
Sep 26, 2019 rated it liked it
Having heard about Nxivm cult, and the fact that some B list Hollywood types were involved an accused of sex trafficking, slavery, branding etc. I was interested in hearing more about the story.

Some of the other reviews complain about Catherine Oxenberg talking too much about her royal pedigree, wealth, privilege and herself really--but I think it is important to the story, as with any cult or made up religion they seek these type of people to lend credibility (and money) to their organization
Sep 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
This refers to the book version.

When talking about his movie "A Quiet Place," John Krasinski called the movie a love letter to his family. This book is a love letter to Catherine's daughter.

You may remember the news stories about the NXIVM cult leader being arrested. It was an odd news item at the time for those not affiliated with the cult.

For Catherine Oxenberg it was a life or death struggle to save her daughter from a cult to which Catherine introduced her.

The earlier parts of the memoir a
Oct 21, 2018 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Christina Haas
Jul 14, 2019 rated it liked it
I read this book in two days - couldn't put it down. I could relate to a lot of the story line, as my former husband molested our daughter and I felt like I was to blame for it by not seeing the truth that was in front of me.
I could also relate to the issues of justice and how it takes power and money to bring a sociopath to justice. She writes that"Keith and his cronies did;t care so much if they won their cases - in fact why often lost. Their goal wasn't to win but to harass, intimidate, bank
Mar 26, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobooks
I only heard the briefest mention of the cult, Nxivm, last fall when some 2nd tier actress from "Smallville" was arrested for sex trafficking. Catherine Oxenberg tells of her deeply personal mother's crusade to save her eldest child from said cult. As to be expected, Catherine was very "bearish" in her story. She was often the only one in her family (save for her mother) who believed her daughter was in danger. Her daughter's father and stepfather, as well as her sisters, didn't recognize the th ...more
Jul 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A captivating story of how far a mother will go to try and save her daughter from a horrific cult.

I've read and watched a lot about other cults, and I've seen the devastation and death that is often the outcome. Many a relative wishes they would've/could've done more to rescue their loved ones from Jonestown, David Koresh's cult in Waco and others.

Catherine Oxenberg had the determination, the resources, and the connections to try and stop Keith Raniere and his abusive, sex trafficking cult. Oft
Aug 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An incredibly well-written book about the Nxivm sex cult! Reads like a great suspense novel, but it really happened!!
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Catherine Oxenberg is an American actress of Serbian origin. Best known for her performance as Amanda Carrington on the 1980s prime-time soap opera Dynasty. She is the daughter of Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia.

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“Keith’s former publicist from many years ago. In 2007, he’d been hired by political consultant Roger Stone—yes, that Roger Stone—to clean up Nxivm’s image. (Stone had worked at Nxivm for a short stint.” 0 likes
“The term ‘brainwashing’ is really describing a synthesis of coercive persuasion and influence techniques used to gain undue influence over people. The way you recognize undue influence is you will see people acting against their own best interest but consistently acting in the best interest of a person who has undue influence over them.” 0 likes
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