Malcolm Logan's Reviews > Pilgrim's Wilderness: A True Story of Faith and Madness on the Alaska Frontier

Pilgrim's Wilderness by Tom Kizzia
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The question of what to do when a child is lured into a cult is hard enough, but the issue becomes even more complicated when the cult is actually the child's family and the cult leader is the child's father. The complications deepen when the cult leader and his family are elevated to the status of a cause celebre by anti-government groups fighting the US Park Service in a remote corner of Alaska. All this is grappled with in Tom Kizza's Pilgrim's Wilderness, the true story of the Pilgrim family.

At one level the book is another dismaying exploration of the dangers of megalomania wedded to religion. At another it's an examination of the dangers of self-righteousness of all kinds and particularly of that brand so beloved of the right wing in America, that brand that derives its power from alleged victimhood and itches to exercise a stand-your-ground defiance with guns and bluster, come what may.

Come what may in this case is the sexual and psychological abuse of children by a man who is lionized by his neighbors for no other reason than that he is a thorn in the side of the National Park Service whose conservation efforts he characterizes as government overreach. While this unlikely hero is being petted and praised by his conservative neighbors, he is abusing his family, imprisoning them in a pyschological hell and exploiting them to feed his appetites.

Kizza's book is hard to put down. Not particularly well written, it is nonetheless engrossing in the manner of a car wreck on the side of the freeway. You don't want to look at it - you know it's going to be depressing - but you can hardly resist.


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Reading Progress

February 20, 2014 – Started Reading
February 20, 2014 – Shelved
February 26, 2014 – Finished Reading

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