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Also by Robert Jay Lifton:
Lifton, Robert Jay, 1926-
National Book Award winner and renowned psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton reveals a world at risk from millennial cults intent on ending it all.
“It is not true that there is nothing new under the sun.” So begins Destroying the World to Save It, Robert Jay Lifton's chilling exploration of Aum Shinrikyo, the Japanese cult that released sarin nerve gas in the Tokyo subways. Since the earliest moments of recorded history, prophets and gurus have foretold the world's end, often in bloodcurdling imagery; they have awaited Armageddon in fear or expectation, even prayed for it. But only in the nuclear age has it become possible for a megalomaniac guru with a world-ending vision to bring his prophecy to pass.
With unusual access to former Aum members, Lifton has produced a path-breaking study of the inner life of a modern millennial cult, offering a subtle portrait of how guru and disciples reinforce each other's wildest destructive fantasies. Lifton offers a sobering exploration of how Aum's guru, Shoko Asahara — charismatic leader, con man, madman — created a religion from a global stew of New Age thinking, ancient religious practices, and apocalyptic science fiction; of how he recruited scientists as disciples and set them to producing the “poor man's atomic bomb” (chemical and biological weapons). Through Aum, Lifton explores a historically unprecedented phenomenon, a twenty-first century in which cults and terrorists may be able to create their own holocausts.
Famed for his groundbreaking explorations of extreme moments and psychological states — in Japanese atomic (continued from front flap) bomb survivors, Nazi doctors, and Vietnam veterans, among others — Lifton uses Aum Shinrikyo to illuminate what happens when an unstable mind embraces weapons of mass destruction. Taking stock as well of Charles Manson, the Heaven's Gate cult, and the Oklahoma City bombers, Lifton argues that Aum Shinrikyo was not just a “nightmare of Japanese religion,” but a global nightmare that revealed a world unexpectedly at risk.
Robert Jay Lifton's Death in Life, the classic study of the effects of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima survivors, won a National Book Award in 1969. He is the author of many important works, including The Nazi Doctors (winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in History) and Home from War. Lifton is currently Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at John Jay College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.