Friday, March 18, 2022

Book Review - Manhattan Cult Story by Spencer Schneider

Manhattan Cult Story: Abuse, Crime, Sex, and My Life inside a Secret Organization

Manhattan Cult Story: Abuse, Crime, Sex, and My Life inside a Secret Organization by Spencer Schneider
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

 Synopsis: “We were invisible. We had to be. We took an oath of absolute secrecy. We never even told our immediate families who we were. We went about our lives in New York City. Just like you. We were your accountants, money managers, lawyers, executive recruiters, doctors. We owned your child’s private school and sold you your brownstone. But you’d never guess our secret lives, how we lived in a kind of silent terror and fervor. There were hundreds of us.”
Right under the noses of neighbors, clients, spouses, children, and friends, a secret society, simply called School—a cult of snared Manhattan professionals—has been led by the charismatic, sociopathic and dangerous leader Sharon Gans for decades. Spencer Schneider was recruited in the eighties and he stayed for more than twenty-three years as his life disintegrated, his self-esteem eroded, and he lined the pockets of Gans and her cult.

Cult members met twice weekly, though they never acknowledged one another outside of meetings or gatherings. In the name of inner development, they endured the horrors of mental, sexual, and physical abuse, forced labor, arranged marriages, swindled inheritances and savings, and systematic terrorizing. Some of them broke the law. All for Gans.

“During those years,” Schneider writes, “my world was School. That’s what it’s like when you’re in a cult, even one that preys on and caters to New York’s educated elite. This is my story of how I got entangled in School and how I got out.”

My Thoughts: An interesting exploration into cult life in New York as told by Spencer Schneider as he expresses how he was approached and lured into this life that latched on and held him pretty much captive for over 20 plus years before he managed to break free.

Led by an atrocious, selfish, and conniving woman, Sharon Gans, who treated the members like playthings for her own enjoyment by telling them who they could marry, have sex with, and many other lists of things they could or couldn't do to be a "good" member and not get chastised and ridiculed.

I enjoyed that this was told from a mans point of view because you usually only hear how rotten things can be for women but here we see that men are treated just as horribly if not worse in some cases.

I don't have a lot of knowledge of many cults but the ones I was vaguely familiar with before this or had heard of were more open or not hidden and they lived closely together but this particular one was almost entirely secretive where even the members until certain levels couldn't even acknowledge each other in public. It was just interesting seeing that although different they still could compel almost the same levels of devotion from its members to do as the leaderships wanted done.

I felt so bad for the author who went thru this ordeal but am also thankful to him for being brave enough to break free and tell his story and out this cult for who they are in hopes of saving the next person from having to go thru what he did.

I was provided this copy from NetGalley for my honest opinion.


Post a Comment