Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
The author of the widely praised Wordslut analyzes the social science of cult influence: how cultish groups from Jonestown and Scientology to SoulCycle and social media gurus use language as the ultimate form of power.
What makes “cults” so intriguing and frightening? What makes them powerful? The reason why so many of us binge Manson documentaries by the dozen and fall down rabbit holes researching suburban moms gone QAnon is because we’re looking for a satisfying explanation for what causes people to join - and more importantly, stay in - extreme groups. We secretly want to know: could it happen to me? Amanda Montell’s argument is that, on some level, it already has....
Our culture tends to provide pretty flimsy answers to questions of cult influence, mostly having to do with vague talk of “brainwashing”. But the true answer has nothing to do with freaky mind-control wizardry or Kool-Aid. In Cultish, Montell argues that the key to manufacturing intense ideology, community, and us/them attitudes all comes down to language. In both positive ways and shadowy ones, cultish language is something we hear - and are influenced by - every single day.
Through juicy storytelling and cutting original research, Montell exposes the verbal elements that make a wide spectrum of communities “cultish”, revealing how they affect followers of groups as notorious as Heaven’s Gate, but also how they pervade our modern start-ups, Peloton leaderboards, and Instagram feeds. Incisive and darkly funny, this enrapturing take on the curious social science of power and belief will make you hear the fanatical language of “cultish” everywhere.
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|Listening Length||8 hours and 21 minutes|
|Narrator||Ann Marie Gideon|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||June 15, 2021|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #886 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#1 in Religious Cults (Audible Books & Originals)
#1 in Linguistics Reference
#1 in Religious Cults (Books)
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Top reviews from the United States
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The book is divided into six parts. In the first part, Montell discusses the language that we use to describe cults, and how difficult it can even be to define the word “cult.” Part 2 looks at suicide cults, like Heaven's Gate and Jonestown, to try to determine what they have in common, and what examples of “cultish” language were used. Part 3 follows the same format; this time focusing on religions. Part 4 is about multi-level-marketing and pyramid schemes, Part 5 cover fitness movements, and Part 6 discusses social media gurus.
Montell approaches this book as more of a reporter than an expert; interviewing former cult members, and asking questions of experts in fields like psychology and language. Her style of writing seems to be targeted toward a teenage to 20-something demographic, and is more casual than most non-fiction books that I've read. This isn't a super technical discussion prepared by a linguistic psychology expert; just a few stories and examples collected by someone that is fascinated by cults, and the power of “inside” language to make people feel like they are part of a group.
This wasn't exactly what I was expecting, but I did learn a bit about various cult groups, and certain similarities between them. The style of writing wasn't my favorite, and I felt like I some of the author's descriptions and trendy analogies were lost on me, but that is just personal preference. Overall a decent book, I'd give it a 3.4 / 5.
By Lena Muralt on June 24, 2021
Top reviews from other countries
I liked that Montell doesn't cram in endless linguistic terms, but instead explains some of the most commonly used tactics in a way that makes this book more like a switched-on person's guide to spotting the language of fanaticism rather than a broad glossary of terms, which is infinitely more helpful.
I also loved that, although there are plenty of stories of people who have lost their lives, money and so many other things to cults and unhealthy communities, the book, on the whole, feels non-judgemental and, often, compassionate to how people fall into these situations and become swept away by cults and bad relationships.
I need to go back and read Montell's first book now because that somehow passed me by!
I bought this title to learn more about how fitness and wellness have used a special set of buzzwords to create community and exclusivity.
I liked the author's description of a cathartic experience with intenSati. After watching one of Patricia Moreno's videos, I could see how there is an almost cult aspect to lot of modern fitness.
This was a quick summer read. I gobbled up the book in one sitting.