A Memoir of Polygamy, Prophets, and Blood Atonement
© 2009 by Irene Spencer
Publisher: Center Street, a division of Hachette
About the book: "In Shattered Dreams, Irene Spencer told the devastating story of her arduous life in a polygamous fundamentalist Mormon sect, sharing her husband with nine other women (and fifty-six children) in abject poverty and intense mental and emotional anguish. As harrowing as the story was, it was only just the beginning.
Cult Insanity delves deeper into her story, focusing on the terrifying acts of Ervil LeBaron, her brother-in-law and a self-proclaimed prophet who determined he had been called to set the house of God in order.
The older brother of Irene’s husband Verlan, Ervil LeBaron had a zeal for living and teaching that was at first admired but soon took on a sinister tone. Ervil’s ambitions quickly turner lethal when he uncovered a doctrine concerning blood atonement – the act of redeeming a sinner’s soul by taking his or her life. Seeing himself as God’s avenger, he used the role as a means to terrorize and destroy those who challenged him.
Irene quickly became enveloped in a dark cloud of fear and anguish. Survival for herself and her ever-growing family turned into a constant flight from one desert camp to another across the harsh badlands of Baja, California. Food was scarce and living conditions abhorrent. Irene didn’t see her husband for months, never knowing if Ervil would make good on his vow to kill him.”
Cult insanity is right! Ervil LeBaron was like so many others who see themselves as the one true leader – egotistical, charismatic, and deadly, and he was doing it all in the name of God. If the scriptures didn’t work for him, he would turn them around to meet his needs. Exceptions were always made when it came to him because he made the rules, and heaven help you if you disagreed with him.
Irene Spencer grew up in a fundamentalist Mormon family believing plural marriage was okay. She willingly became Verlan LeBaron’s second wife and sister-in-law to Ervil, but she had no way of knowing what the future held for her and her family. Her account of what took place in the Mexican desert is truly frightening because things like this continue to take place. Ervil LeBaron was no better than Charles Manson but everything he did, he did under the guise of doing God’s will.
Ms. Spencer now lives with her second husband in California. I wish the book would have told a little more about how she got on with her life.
I won this book from Luxury Living. Thanks again Vera!