Thursday, January 23, 2014

Shoes of a Servant / Diane Benscoter

Reviewed by: BigAl

Genre: Non-Fiction/Memoir

Approximate word count: 75-80,000 words

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Diane Benscoter is a former member of The Unification Church (frequently called The Moonies) who became a deprogrammer after leaving the organization.


“Diane Benscoter grew up in the heartland of America in a small Nebraska town with a loving family. At 17, motivated by her idealism and inspired by the lyrics of her favorite songs, she left home in search of a way to end war. She found easy answers to Life’s hard questions in the form of a religious cult commonly known as the Moonies.

In Shoes of a Servant Benscoter weaves a gripping story of her servitude in the cult, the deprogramming staged by her desperate family, and her subsequent involvement in the underground world of deprogramming– culminating in her arrest for kidnapping. Often humorous and always heartbreaking , Benscoter’s story carries the reader on a journey into the world of mental manipulation, providing compelling insight on how human vulnerabilities open the door for extremism."


I found this book informative and enlightening on two fronts.  The first and most obvious was understanding how someone gets involved in an organization like The Moonies as well as the process of deprogramming. How can a cult take people who are just like us and change them so much?

The not so obvious thing I got out of this book was how many parallels I saw between Benscoter’s experience as a Moonie with experiences I’ve had and observations I’ve made in the way other organizations work. For example, my experience with a religion considered mainstream (although more cult-like than most) was more alike than different. I also saw parallels to many political organizations, especially those with more extreme stances from either end of the spectrum.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues

Rating: **** Four stars


Gelo said...

As a member of the Unification Church and an author who has been reviewed on this site ( , I'm a little agog at this review.

I go to Sunday service with people who experienced the tender hand of deprogrammers and their side of the story is a little different. I will just leave this article as a counterpoint:

It's one thing to disagree with someone's beliefs, it's another thing entirely to try to beat someone's faith out of them.

BooksAndPals said...

Gelo, thanks for your comment and the link.

DianeBenscoter said...

First, Big Al, Thank you so much for the review.

Gelo, did you read my book? I think you might find it interesting and quite different from what you have been told about deprogramming.

I am now dedicated to educating those who are most vulnerable to mental manipulation. Especially young people need to understand how those who are addicted to power and money can, and often do, turn to manipulative tactics to feed their insatiable need for power and/or money.

I am forever grateful to my mother for her relentlessness to free me from the mental chains that held me captive. Having said that, again, my work now is about prevention more than "deprogramming". It is not easy to recover from realizing such pure dedication was to a lie.

Thank you again!