Reviews

Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism, by Amanda Montell

sbrnprmr's review

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funny informative reflective

4.5

miekss's review

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informative reflective fast-paced

4.5


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carifairyreads's review

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informative medium-paced

4.0

soymiajane's review

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informative reflective medium-paced

3.75

valerbarrionuevo's review

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dark informative reflective fast-paced

4.25


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matx's review against another edition

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challenging informative inspiring lighthearted reflective medium-paced

4.0

snortingpages's review

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3.0

scientology cultfit and jonestown. hmm a weird combo but i still enjoyed reading it.

marisbest2's review

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4.0

This book says pretty much what you'd expect. Cults use language to push their message. MLMs are cults. Fitness groups can be cultish. Cults are complex.

The book goes back and forth and is interesting throughout but never really wows. Sometimes theres good personal anecdotes. Sometimes theres half baked anti-capitalist/anti-Protestantism arguments.

But overall worthwhile listen

robotswithpersonality's review

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hopeful informative
While I picked this up primarily for the focus on language, what really grabbed me was the effort the author went to to temper the black-and-white, moralizing interpretations and usage of words like cult and cult followers, detailing the dangers of those assumptions. While she starts with the most destructive and dangerous examples of cults and language used in such, over the book the author builds up evidence for the important distinction between the presence of cultish language and the oversimplification that it will always lead to dramatically negative outcomes. Alongside this are surprising conclusions from research on qualities more likely to leave one more susceptible to cult rhetoric, i.e. it's not whom you'd first assume. 
Impressively smooth reading experience, just enough history on whichever cult or cultural phenomenon is the basis to provide context for the linguistic analysis being discussed.
It's helpful to see multiple exemplars of the similarities in how use of language seduces, isolates, converts, coerces, and stops questioning in the toxic and dangerous types of cult, even when the code words per cult are different, it reinforces and clarifies for the reader the 🚩 difference between a relatively benign sales pitch or spiritual practice and something darker, feeding someone else's power, wealth and ambition. 
What stood out most here is what I already loathed as the diet culture trump card:  The insistence that if you're not gaining the promised result it's your fault, not a failure of the cult/lifestyle movement/fitness plan/nutrition regimen. AKA total responsibility-dodging BS that points out how completely fake their whole system is. 
The latter section feels particularly relevant, addressing cult language in the 21st century, online in social media. 
This book has since spawned a podcast called Sounds Like a Cult, and I can't wait to dive in. 
I will also definitely be picking up Montell's other book, Word Slut: A Feminist Guide to Taking Back the English Language.
⚠️Suicide, abuse, SA

liliflynn's review against another edition

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informative lighthearted reflective medium-paced

4.0

This was a great introduction into cults, the ‘cultish’, and how language is used to manipulate and persuade. 

I really loved how kindly Montell wrote about people who joined cults, and how throughout the book it felt like I was being continually reminded that they are people seeking community and often hope for a better life because the real world sucks!! 

I also really enjoyed the discussion about how we take words and often water down the meaning of them because of overuse — e.g. Cult… 

I think the book could’ve been set out differently — I did not enjoy the “(I’ll get to that in Part 6)” whilst being in Part 1… There was a lot of back and forth which I think could’ve been removed by changing how the different sections were categorised. 

Overall, it was easy to digest with a lot of content to think about :)