Listen free for 30 days

Zealot

A Book About Cults
Narrated by: Jo Thornely
Length: 8 hrs and 9 mins
4 out of 5 stars (6 ratings)

£7.99/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime

Summary

Why would anyone join a cult?   

Maybe they're unhappy with their current religion, or they want to change the world, or they're disappointed with their lives and want to find something bigger or holier that makes sense of this confusing, chaotic and dangerous world. Or maybe they just want to give themselves the best possible chance of having sex with aliens.  

Whatever the reason, once people are in, it's usually very difficult for them to leave. Cults have ways of making their followers do loopy, dangerous stuff to prove their loyalty, and in return they get a chance to feel secure within the cult's embrace, with an added bonus of being utterly terrified of the outside world.   

From the tragic Jonestown Kool-Aid drinkers to the Australian cult The Family to the fiery Waco climax of The Branch Davidians, this is a wide-sweeping look at cults around the world, from the host of the popular podcast Zealot.

©2019 Jo Thornely (P)2019 Hachette Australia Audio

What members say

Average customer ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    3
  • 4 Stars
    2
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    0

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    4
  • 4 Stars
    1
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    0

Story

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    3
  • 4 Stars
    2
  • 3 Stars
    1
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Very funny, very disturbing, but somehow lacking

This book is immensely entertaining, and had be snorting with laughter at many points. But somehow I felt that something important was missing: Thornely’s portraits of cult leaders and members from the 1970s until the present are ultimately caricatures. Many of the episodes described are funny because they are simply so strange or outrageous, such as Jim Jones’ sideline as a travelling spider-monkey salesman, or Bhagwan Rajneesh’s insatiable desire to acquire a hundred Rolls-Royces. Yet there is little attempt to try to understand the motivations of the various agents involved, apart from the obvious: the desire for money, power, and sex. I kept asking myself why people would turn their lives upside down to join a cult when such things can usually be had in radically less disruptive ways. Unfortunately, Thornely offers little reflective insight about such more complex motivations on the part of leaders or followers. Nevertheless, this remains a very funny book which I would recommend if you just want a good belly laugh at the extent of human folly.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Love the podcast, love the book.

I love the enthusiasm with which the author talks about the subject. Interesting and horrifying on so many levels.

Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for S. Winchester
  • S. Winchester
  • 28-02-19

Entertaining listen

You wouldn't think a book about cults could be so entertaining, but you would be wrong. Even though a lot of the cults in this book were horrible, the author managed to inject human and snarkiness to keep it from becoming too dark.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Branndi
  • Branndi
  • 01-10-19

"Thank you very much"

I love this book for the dry wit. Maybe it is because I have that sense of humour but this author had been laughing out loud. Perfect narrator too.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Morgan L. Day
  • Morgan L. Day
  • 29-09-19

Excellent, doesn't need to be academic

Not every non-fiction book has to fit the standards of a university textbook, with objectivity and distance. I thought it was refreshing to have someone cover a subject and say what, as the author puts it, any decent moral person would think about the subject. I am usually skeptical of authors narrating their own work as they aren't trained and experienced voice actors, but Ms. Thornely did a cracking good job. Despite the grim subject matter, I laughed my pants off all the way throughout the book. There were a couple of odd omissions, for example nothing on the Manson Family, but I highly recommend this to anyone who is interested in cults and would like to be entertained as well as informed.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Richard
  • Richard
  • 25-09-19

less than expected

I agree about the author/narrator having a immature commentary. I would have preferred a more objective view than jokes and personal views.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for sarah crandall
  • sarah crandall
  • 12-03-19

Good I'm formation.

I really enjoyed the I'm formation but didn't like the authors immature commentary. Felt like a thirteen years old was reading and adding in ridiculous comments.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for sarah machen toy
  • sarah machen toy
  • 07-11-19

I will listen to any and everything from this auth

For any of you interested in a well researched glimpse into the incredible lives of cult leaders and their followers this is a superior (imho) read. The book covers several cults in depth and the author really humanizes many of the characters so you can get into the minds of the followers and even the leaders. Perhaps the best aspect of this audiobook is the wit with which the author- who read it herself- tells the stories. I found myself laughing aloud more than once. Ok, that's my plug. Happy listening, fellow audibullies!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Tyler
  • Tyler
  • 03-11-19

Rosting cult leaders with Sass

good book that I enjoyed. but keep in mind the aurther/ narrator is from Australia and you can tell in her mannerism, its has a few quotes that some people would consider vulgar, but I enjoy that. While the performance is good, its missing a certain je ne sais quoi that professional narrator have, but since the author narrates it's not unexpected, it's better some author narration

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Rumbles
  • Rumbles
  • 30-10-19

Very entertaining

I’ve read/listened to a lot of true crime and books on cults. This is sarcastically narrated by the author which is perfect to keep you entertained through those “less than murderous” cults. Highly recommend it if you have a sense of humor and are interested in cults

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for James M. Brining
  • James M. Brining
  • 29-10-19

More Irreverant than Informative

Maybe I should have researched the book a bit more before selecting it. While the subject matter is indeed cults, it's less about how cult leaders lure in followers or what makes people susceptible to join them and more about all the silly rituals they observe, wacky things they believe and amusing and/or disturbing things they do. While I am fond of snark, sarcasm, and cheeky asides, all of which are in plentiful supply here, the amount of wisecracks gets to the point where it becomes distracting.

There was information about cults I'd never heard of and details I didn't know about cults I had, and the presentation by the author was well done, but the excessive amount of jokes and jabs was just a little over the top for me. Your mileage may vary though.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Avid Reader
  • Avid Reader
  • 24-10-19

Encyclopedia of Cults

Very interesting. Learned about cults I didn't know existed. Recommend this download. You won't be disappointed.