I usually like this kind of books, and reviewed a few in the past. But “Cults and Fanatics” by Colin and Damon Wilson (ISBN 1854871242; 192p.; Goodreads) was mostly only on weird Christian sects, mad priests, and a whole bunch of Messiahs.
First of all, let me stress, that the book is on sects, cults, and (mostly just) fanatics. Not, say, cultures, societies (e.g. Illuminati, Masons, etc.), even though they have been touched upon, and left me with a nasty taste of continuity lack. Second, authors took either lesser known stories, or those on which we have too much anecdotal facts. And third – the book seems to be concentrated on three spots on the whole wide Earth, somehow, thus leaving it very small, very narrow, and very lacking.
Page by page, sometimes by whole three, we learn of priests, miracle-makers, messiahs, monks, and (drum-roll) murderers. People with talent in words, speech, oratorical skills. People who were there, on the right time, in the right place, with the right stories bubbling in their noggins. People who believed that we will only be saved by cutting of an arm, genitalia, peeling our skin off, by killing our neighbor, and sleeping with a very close relative. Sometimes, of course, we end up with real serious people, and real serious cults. Rasputin, and Charles Manson. Assassins, Cargo-cult, KKK. But the information is so jolly, lively, and so very lacking sources, that you read and itch for Wikipedia (it’s an old book, I don’t know what I expected really). But that’s about that, the rest are just a bunch of people who believed they’ll rise from the dead, and didn’t.
Oh, speaking of KKK, I hope that this origin story is true. Why the white sheets? Well, they dressed up as ghosts, obviously! So the next time you meet a racist, imagine them in Caspar, the friendly ghost, outfit.
So all in all, this was a poor read. I give it 1 out of 5, and do not recommend. The authors might still be worth looking into, since the list of literature they provided is wast, and seems like it might still be up my valley.