Review: Sarah Steel – Do As I Say

Do As I Say
Sarah Steel

“At the heart of being human is the desire to belong. It can make us unspeakably vulnerable to the manipulations of others. Cult leaders prey on this desire, but so do many unscrupulous operators hiding in plain sight. In Do As I Say, Steel tells the human tale behind the sensationalism. Sharing deeply personal stories, gathered over years of interviews with survivors, and some shocking tales about the world’s most famous cults, she sheds light on the high cost of unchecked coercive behaviours to individuals and communities at large.”

This non-fiction book was exceptional. I found myself both amused and appalled at the same time for what cults get away with, and what people think while they are in them. It really resonated with me that noone thinks that they are joining a cult! In fact, I could easily see several people I know joining one. It’s terrifying to me that some people are dumb or delusional enough to think that a dead person can rise again tomorrow (not just Christ, but also assasinated US presidents!).

It’s weird to think of some of the cults in the book as ‘cults’. Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons for example, I had always thought of them as religions – granted, very time-intensive and all-encompassing religions, but not cults. What is shown in this book though is that almost any group that begins to treat others as outsiders (even shunning them) and has a charasmatic leader could be considered a cult.

I read this book at the same time as I was due to give my students a leadership workshop. I found myself drawing on parts of the story, and some of the famous cult leaders within it (Apple fan, anyone?) while teaching. Cults generally have leaders, and even though most (all?) cults are ‘bad’ we can definitely learn something from the leaders. They tend to be charismatic, and often the group doesn’t start as a cult but then moves that way.

I admit that at some points it seemed as if the author was pushing her own political agenda just little bit too obviously. It was nice however to have a book totally aimed at Australians rather than a USA audience. I’m keeping this beautiful bright red book on my shelf, and recommend it as reading to anyone who has a friend or family member in a cult or who has an interest in leadership.

Pan Macmillan | 28 June 2022 | AU$34.99 | paperback

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.