The Guru Papers
     Masks of Authoritarian Power
by Joel Kramer & Diana Alstad

New Review by Julian Walker (6/21/12)
The Dark Side of Spirituality: The Guru Papers Unmasks Sacred Cows! – A Map to Spiritual Empowerment”

Guru Cover 1/99
“Easily the most comprehensive, erudite, and timely book in print to explore authoritarianism in religion, institutions, power, the family, intimacy and sexual relations, and personal problems such as addiction…. Argue[s] persuasively that any system of values that places tradition and the past above the imperative to question the present is destined to become increasingly lethal.” 
— San Francisco Chronicle Sunday Book Review  (pdf of complete review)

“Thorough, wide-ranging analysis of the way power has historically been maintained ….Purports to be no less than a diagnosis of what’s wrong with the world and how, not merely to fix it, but to save it. Its thesis is elegant and nearly unlimited in its ramifications….authoritarianism is not merely a political phenomenon. It’s part of the way we think.” — The New Mexican  (pdf of complete review)

“…A profoundly important critique of the covert authoritarianism of both Eastern and Western religions — and of such allegedly secular cultural values as unconditional love…and 12-step programs….I hope many people will read this extraordinarily rich and complex book. The authors are calling for a profound change in the basic philosophy of our culture…for a morality that integrates and values both sides of the self…the selfless and self-centered….This book can make an important contribution to that change, if enough people read it and take it to heart and mind.”
Liberty (good overview by Sharon Presley)  pdf of complete review

“Undertake[s] the monumental task of reforming the very basis of civilization….their conjectures are certain to step on the toes of nearly every sacred cow at some point…steadfast and unapologetic….Offers both affirmation and optimism.”
— Creative Loafing  pdf of complete review

“One of the most deeply insightful works of our time….Nearly every page crackles with statements that…provoked one ‘Aha!’ after another….The most reasonable …picture of the evolution of religious ideas to date, and brilliant sections on love and control, and…addiction.” 
— Richard Heinberg’s Muse Letter  pdf of complete review

“The potential to shift readers’ minds in a deep way….onto something big—possibly even the root of human error. It can actually change the way one views the world…. Elegantly articulates many of [our]…unformed thoughts” 
 Synapse  (pdf of complete review)

“One of the most important books for the 21st century …Elegantly identifies the masks that power uses to hide its abuses. It’s about time!” 
— Point Reyes Light  by Ford Greene, anti-cult attorney  pdf of complete review

“Delivers what it promises…Describ[es how]… overt and covert authoritarianism can intrude into social, political, and religious beliefs and interfere with normal personality development….Part II explores subtle, indirect forces in values and beliefs…concealed in what people assume and take for granted….Merits wide readership…highly recommended.”
— Cultic Studies Journal
   complete review – International Cultic Studies Association

…[The addiction chapter’s] interesting thesis is that in any so-called self-destructive repetitive behavior, one is never truly out of control, but rather divided parts of oneself are fighting for control. As a long time researcher…of addiction, I found [their chapter] a refreshing analysis of predominant theories of substance abuse. [Their] own model of the divided psyche, and “why it feels good to be bad” was not only original but resonant.”  
                       (from Dr. Marsha Rosenbaum’s review of the chapter on addiction)
— Journal of Psychoactive Drugs   pdf of complete review

Review focusing on the addiction chapter  (2012)
by Charles Dollins, drug and alcoholism counselor at LifeRing Secular Recovery

“Crystal-clear.…[Goes] deeply into the inherent paradoxes in much of world religion…[explains] with blistering clarity why we get seduced.”
— Whole Earth Review   pdf of complete review

“Very important…Simply and elegantly written, I predict that this will prove to be one of the most helpful books on psychological oppression of the decade.”
— Creation Spirituality  pdf of complete review