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AUTHOR: Amanda Montell
PUBLISHER: Harper Wave
DATE: June 15, 2021
PAGES: 321

Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism

by Amanda Montell

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.


Author Amanda Montell identifies as bisexual / queer.

  • Note from the Author
  • Part 1: Repeat After Me…
  • Part 2: Congratulations — You Have Been Chosen to Join the Next Evolutionary Level Above Human
  • Part 3: Even YOU Can Learn to Speak in Tongues
  • Part 4: Do You Wanna Be a #BossBabe?
  • Part 5: This Hour is Going. toChange Your Life… and Make You LOOK AWESOME
  • Part 6: Follow for Follow
  • Acknowledgements
  • Notes
  • About the Author

[coming soon]

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