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Recommended Books on Aum Shinrikyo

FACTNet Recommended Aum Shinrikyo Books

Recommended Fiction Books

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Destroying the World to Save It: Aum Shinrikyo, Apocalyptic Violence, and the New Global Terrorism
by Robert Jay Lifton
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"The premise of Destroying the World to Save It is terrifying: after studying the history of the Japanese cult Aum Shinrikyo, the author believes them to be only one group in a "loosely connected, still-developing global subculture of apocalyptic violence." We ignore this subculture, says National Book Award winner Robert Jay Lifton, at our future peril. In interviews with former Aum members once led by the guru figure Shoko Asahara, it is their "familiar ordinariness" that most disturbs Lifton. Drawing parallels to his studies of Nazi psychology, he notes that--just as in Germany--practicing doctors and trained scientists were persuaded to join Aum and offer their specialized knowledge in the service of the cult's plans. The story of Aum, says Lifton, has for the first time shown the world that not only other states but more elusive groups less open to diplomacy may be able to gain control of weapons of mass destruction. "


Aum Shinrikyo-Japan's Unholy Sect 
by Rei Kimura
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"This is the true story of a mysterious religious cult Aum Shinrikyo which threw the neat orderly Japanese society into pandemonium with its massive acts of terroism murders culminating in the bloody Tokyo subway sarin gas poisoning in which over 3,000 innocent commuters perished. Rei Kimura hopes she has made some contribution, no matter how small, to the current universal need to fight terrorism in all forms so that everyone can live in peace and in safety."


The Cult at the End of the World : The Terrifying Story of the Aum Doomsday Cult, from the Subways of Tokyo to the Nuclear Arsenals of Russia
by David E. Kaplan, Andrew Marshall
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"If this story was to be written as a novel, the only suitable genre would be science fiction, for that is how amazing, otherworldly and fantastical this tale is. The authors leave no stone unturned in this extensively researched missive about a group of inhumane terrorists masquerading as harmless members of a Buddhist cult. After devouring this book (since that is what I did) one will probably realise that as dangerous as Jim Jones and David Koresh were, compared to Asahara and his league of demented adherents, they were Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny combined into one entity! Kaplan and Marshall inform us that we can no longer afford to exist in a Philistine society - we must do everything in our power to rid the world of impious religious cults where man is worshipped instead of God, and they draw much needed attention to a very frightening, yet little known fact - that with the advent of highly sophisticated firearms and biological weapons, which are inexplicably becoming more and more accessible to lay people, if World War Three does occur, it is most likely to be started by a group of terrorists similar to the fanatical Aum Supreme truth religious cult - people who say they worship all life and this planet, then spend millions of dollars in an attempt to destroy it. - Reviewer: Becky from Ellalong, Australia"


Holy Terror : Armageddon in Tokyo
by D. W. Brackett
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"In March 1995, a Japanese terrorist sect, Aum Shinri Kyo (Aum Supreme Truth), which had governmentally sanctioned religious status, carried out a poison gas attack in Tokyo's subway system using odorless sarin, a lethal nerve gas that the sect's chemists produced; the attack left 11 dead and more than 5000 severely injured. This chilling report makes stunningly clear that small terrorist groups are capable of unleashing chemical or biological weapons of mass destruction against defenseless populations. Brackett, formerly a UPI correspondent in Tokyo, a Knight-Ridder Tokyo bureau chief and a U.S. Air Force counterterrorism expert, tells how an Aum death squad murdered a lawyer and his family in 1989 because he was prosecuting the cult. Aum commune members who wanted to quit were given lethal punishments, including execution by microwave radiation, by this account. The sect had extensive connections with former Soviet weapon scientists and leased a ranch in Australia where it mined uranium. Brackett also charges the group with mind control and widespread use of LSD and other drugs. Semi-blind Aum leader Shoko Asahara and other members are standing trial in proceedings expected to last two years."


Religious Violence in Contemporary Japan: The Case of Aum Shinrikyo
by Ian Reader
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"Reader places the sect in the context of contemporary Japanese religious patterns, discussing developments in Asahara Shoko's personality and teachings, Aum's millennialism and its developing hostility toward society, and compares Aum with other religious and political movements that turned to violence, both in Japan and elsewhere. He concludes that Aum is not unique, nor is it solely a political or criminal terror group. It must rather be analyzed as an extreme example of a religious movement which, largely due to its own religious characteristics, came into friction with the surrounding society and developed into violence. "


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