The Accidental Terrorist: Confessions of a Reluctant Missionary

Sinister Regard Publishers
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“This just may be my favorite true-life amazing-but-true tale—never has threatening an aircraft been funnier or more thought-provoking.” —Cory Doctorow, author of Little Brother and Homeland


“I devoured the more than four hundred pages of this memoir in what was essentially one sitting . . . A welcome addition to the library of Mormon autobiography—educational and highly entertaining.” —Richard Packham, Dawning of a Brighter Day


1987. A faltering missionary named Bill Shunn lands himself in a Canadian jail, facing charges of hijacking and the prospect of life behind bars.


1844. A frontier prophet named Joseph Smith lands himself in an Illinois jail, facing charges of treason and the prospect of imminent lynching.


What binds these two men together? This riveting memoir—by turns hilarious, provocative and thrilling—answers that question in style, weaving from their stories a spellbinding tapestry of deception, desperation and defiance. Answer its call and you’ll never look at a Mormon missionary the same way again.


“You will read few other books as smart, funny, honest, and heartbreaking as The Accidental Terrorist, and I unreservedly recommend it to you as both a home-grown cautionary tale and a highly original coming-of-age saga.” —Michael Bishop, author of Ancient of Days and editor of A Cross of Centuries


“The book grabs you on page one and never lets go. Fantastically written, beautifully paced, The Accidental Terrorist reads like a novel instead of a memoir. Only in novel form, no one would have ever believed these events could have happened. Believe it. William Shunn lived every word of this book. That he can share it so eloquently is a tribute not just to his writing skill, but his strengths as a human being.” —Kristine Kathryn Rusch, USA Today bestselling author


Finalist for the 2015 Association for Mormon Letters Award

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About the author

Since his first publication in 1993, William Shunn's short fiction has appeared in Salon, Storyteller, Bloodstone Review, Newtown Literary, Asimov's, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Science Fiction Age, Realms of Fantasy, Electric Velocipede, and various anthologies and year's-best collections. His essays have appeared in On Magazine and Sybil's Garage. His work has been shortlisted for the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award, and the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award. His chapbook An Alternate History of the 21st Century appeared from Spilt Milk Press in 2007, and his novella Cast a Cold Eye, a collaboration with Derryl Murphy, from PS Publishing in 2009. Born in Los Angeles and raised in Utah, he now lives and writes in New York City.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Sinister Regard Publishers
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Published on
Nov 10, 2015
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Pages
448
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ISBN
9781941928578
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Personal Memoirs
Religion / Christian Ministry / Missions
Religion / Christianity / Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon)
Religion / History
True Crime / Con Artists, Hoaxes & Deceptions
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Content Protection
This content is DRM free.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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From her days of feeling like “a root beer among the Cokes”—Coca-Cola being a forbidden fruit for Mormon girls like her—Joanna Brooks always understood that being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints set her apart from others. But, in her eyes, that made her special; the devout LDS home she grew up in was filled with love, spirituality, and an emphasis on service. With Marie Osmond as her celebrity role model and plenty of Sunday School teachers to fill in the rest of the details, Joanna felt warmly embraced by the community that was such an integral part of her family. But as she grew older, Joanna began to wrestle with some tenets of her religion, including the Church’s stance on women’s rights and homosexuality. In 1993, when the Church excommunicated a group of feminists for speaking out about an LDS controversy, Joanna found herself searching for a way to live by the leadings of her heart and the faith she loved.

The Book of Mormon Girl is a story about leaving behind the innocence of childhood belief and embracing the complications and heartbreaks that come to every adult life of faith. Joanna’s journey through her faith explores a side of the religion that is rarely put on display: its humanity, its tenderness, its humor, its internal struggles. In Joanna’s hands, the everyday experience of being a Mormon—without polygamy, without fundamentalism—unfolds in fascinating detail. With its revelations about a faith so often misunderstood and characterized by secrecy, The Book of Mormon Girl is a welcome advocate and necessary guide.
When Alex Cooper was fifteen years old, life was pretty ordinary in her sleepy suburban town and nice Mormon family. At church and at home, Alex was taught that God had a plan for everyone. But something was gnawing at her that made her feel different. These feelings exploded when she met Yvette, a girl who made Alex feel alive in a new way, and with whom Alex would quickly fall in love.

Alex knew she was holding a secret that could shatter her family, her church community, and her life. Yet when this secret couldn’t be hidden any longer, she told her parents that she was gay, and the nightmare began. She was driven from her home in Southern California to Utah, where, against her will, her parents handed her over to fellow Mormons who promised to save Alex from her homosexuality.

For eight harrowing months, Alex was held captive in an unlicensed “residential treatment program” modeled on the many “therapeutic” boot camps scattered across Utah. Alex was physically and verbally abused, and many days she was forced to stand facing a wall wearing a heavy backpack full of rocks. Her captors used faith to punish and terrorize her. With the help of a dedicated legal team in Salt Lake City, Alex eventually escaped and made legal history in Utah by winning the right to live under the law’s protection as an openly gay teenager.

Alex is not alone; the headlines continue to splash stories about gay conversion therapy and rehabilitation centers that promise to “save” teenagers from their sexuality. Saving Alex is a courageous memoir that tells Alex’s story in the hopes that it will bring awareness and justice to this important issue. A bold, inspiring story of one girl’s fight for freedom, acceptance, and truth.

The searing memoir of an extraordinary woman who served as a nun for eleven years in Mother Teresa's order, Hope Endures is a compelling chronicle of idealistic determination, rigid discipline, and shattering disillusionment. InÊher life's journey from certainty to doubt, Colette Livermore enters the Missionaries of Charity order in 1973 with unwavering faith and total surrender ofÊher will and intellect after seeing a documentary on the order's work in India. Only eighteen at the time, Livermore has been studying to enter medical school -- a lifelong goal -- but virtually overnight severs her many ties with family, friends, and the life she's known in beautiful, rural New South Wales in order to train as a sister to aid the poor. In the process, she also gives herself over to the order's unexpectedly severe, ascetic regime, which demands blind obedience and submission.

Given the religious name Sister Tobit, Livermore serves in some of the poorest places in the world -- the garbage dump slums of Manila, Papua New Guinea, and Calcutta -- bringing hope and care to people who are desperately ill, hungry, abandoned, and even dying, and comforting whomever she can. Although she draws inspiration and strength from her humanitarian work, Livermore and other nuns risk their own physical health, as they are sent to dangerous areas while being unschooled in the languages and cultures, untrained in medical care, and sometimes unprotected by vaccines. Livermore herself succumbs to bouts of drug-resistant cerebral malaria that almost kill her and to a new strain of hepatitis. Over time she also beginsÊto notice that the order's rigid insistence on unquestioning obedience harms the young sisters mentally, emotionally, and spiritually -- and she experiences a terrible inner struggle to find the right path for herself. As she tries to respond to the suffering around her, she often falls into an incomprehensible conflict between her vow to obey and her vow to serve, between religious strictures and the practice of compassion, between authority and personal conscience.

Pressured to stay with the order by Mother Teresa and other superiors, as well as by the younger nuns, Livermore nonetheless decides to leave at age thirty and attain her medical degree, continuing to take health care and relief to impoverished people in remote areas -- the isolated aboriginal communities of the Outback and war-torn East Timor. Even as she serves others as a medical doctor, she continues in a crisis of faith thatÊeventually leads her to become an agnostic.

Hope Endures is the eye-opening, deeply affecting story of a brave woman's search for meaning in a world that is rent with tragedies and contradictions. It is also an unflinching critique of any faith that insists on blind obedience. For true hope to endure, Dr. Livermore demonstrates, we must always strive to question, to face the hard truths, and to discover the courage to follow our convictions.
A jaw-dropping insider look into the world of the so-called "Hollywood Sex Cult" NXIVM chronicling the rise of enigmatic cult leader, Keith Raniere, from its "Patient Zero," his former girlfriend and test subject for his coercive control techniques.
Many have heard of NXIVM and its creator, Keith Raniere, the unassuming Albany man now prosecuted for ensnaring tens of thousands of people in the US, Mexico, Canada and elsewhere, to do his bidding and pay millions of dollars to participate in his self-improvement methodology. But where did Keith Raniere begin?

Enter Toni Natalie, Keith's Patient Zero, the first one indoctrinated into Raniere's methodology and the first one to escape. THE PROGRAM begins with the origin story of NXIVM, follows its rise to international prominence, and takes the reader into the downfall of Raniere through Toni's eyes. During this time she bore witness to the evolution of his methodology, including his use of sex, blackmail, and employment of psychological tools such as neuro-linguistic programming to control and punish those who would not heed his wishes. She uniquely details the fortunes lost and the lives left in disarray that she witnessed contemporaneously, including members of DOS, a group of women coerced into sexual acts under the guise of a "women's empowerment" inner circle, whom Raniere exercised extreme control over directly and through his lieutenants.

But far from being a victim's story, in the spirit of Erin Brockovich, Toni's is a nuanced narrative of a multi-dimensional woman saving herself, and then working tirelessly to help other women do the same for themselves. Today, Toni is happy, reunited with her son, and surrounded by friends and family--it is this perspective that makes her such a unique storyteller.
The #1 New York Times Bestseller

A bestselling book that is inspiring the nation: “We have written here about terrible things that we never wanted to think about again . . . Now we want the world to know: we survived, we are free, we love life.”

Two women kidnapped by infamous Cleveland school-bus driver Ariel Castro share the stories of their abductions, captivity, and dramatic escape
 
On May 6, 2013, Amanda Berry made headlines around the world when she fled a Cleveland home and called 911, saying: “Help me, I’m Amanda Berry. . . . I’ve been kidnapped, and I’ve been missing for ten years.”
 
A horrifying story rapidly unfolded. Ariel Castro, a local school bus driver, had separately lured Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight to his home, where he kept them chained. In the decade that followed, the three were raped, psychologically abused, and threatened with death. Berry had a daughter—Jocelyn—by their captor.
 
Drawing upon their recollections and the diary kept by Amanda Berry, Berry and Gina DeJesus describe a tale of unimaginable torment, and Pulitzer Prize–winning Washington Post reporters Mary Jordan and Kevin Sullivan interweave the events within Castro’s house with original reporting on efforts to find the missing girls. The full story behind the headlines—including details never previously released on Castro’s life and motivations—Hope is a harrowing yet inspiring chronicle of two women whose courage, ingenuity, and resourcefulness ultimately delivered them back to their lives and families.
The dramatic first-person account of life inside an ultra-fundamentalist American religious sect, and one woman’s courageous flight to freedom with her eight children.

When she was eighteen years old, Carolyn Jessop was coerced into an arranged marriage with a total stranger: a man thirty-two years her senior. Merril Jessop already had three wives. But arranged plural marriages were an integral part of Carolyn’s heritage: She was born into and raised in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS), the radical offshoot of the Mormon Church that had settled in small communities along the Arizona-Utah border. Over the next fifteen years, Carolyn had eight children and withstood her husband’s psychological abuse and the watchful eyes of his other wives who were locked in a constant battle for supremacy.

Carolyn’s every move was dictated by her husband’s whims. He decided where she lived and how her children would be treated. He controlled the money she earned as a school teacher. He chose when they had sex; Carolyn could only refuse at her own peril. For in the FLDS, a wife’s compliance with her husband determined how much status both she and her children held in the family. Carolyn was miserable for years and wanted out, but she knew that if she tried to leave and got caught, her children would be taken away from her. No woman in the country had ever escaped from the FLDS and managed to get her children out, too. But in 2003, Carolyn chose freedom over fear and fled her home with her eight children. She had $20 to her name.

Escape exposes a world tantamount to a prison camp, created by religious fanatics who, in the name of God, deprive their followers the right to make choices, force women to be totally subservient to men, and brainwash children in church-run schools. Against this background, Carolyn Jessop’s flight takes on an extraordinary, inspiring power. Not only did she manage a daring escape from a brutal environment, she became the first woman ever granted full custody of her children in a contested suit involving the FLDS. And in 2006, her reports to the Utah attorney general on church abuses formed a crucial part of the case that led to the arrest of their notorious leader, Warren Jeffs.
“William Shunn is one of those SF writers who, because they specialize in short fiction, are not given quite the recognition they deserve—no novels, no mass-market publication, so only the plaudits of the cognoscenti of the short form. Yet Shunn is a fine writer; ingenious, stylish, closely in touch with current global trends and expert in producing thought-provoking near-future SF, and at last he has a collection to show off that keen ability . . . including two impressive original novelettes.” —Nick Gevers, Locus Magazine


A presidential inauguration in a fascist America eerily similar to our own. A man who broadcasts his every sense and emotion to a national audience. A space station unequipped to deal with alien visitors. Welcome to an off-kilter 21st century as only Hugo and Nebula Award nominee William Shunn could envision it.


From time travel to nanoterrorism, Los Angeles to Lagrange Point 2, the six stories in this collection span not just the length of a century but the breadth of a unique and provocative imagination. Step inside, settle in, and discover a world that’s always surprising but never unfamiliar. Discover the 21st century.


“[These stories] tellingly and concisely ironize the clichés and tropes of genre SF, but without destroying their use as toolkit.” —John Clute, The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction


“[William Shunn] has the sure instincts of a twenty-first century science fiction writer. He is keenly attuned to the present (in the twenty-first century, there's no point keeping track of the future). He recognizes those truly present-day moments that could only come now, today, in this futuristic present that we swim through without ever really seeing. This extraordinary book is a journey through our present. From the bitingly political (‘From Our Point of View We Had Moved to the Left’) to the sad and personal (‘Not of This Fold’—a gorgeous novella about faith and humanity that could only have been written by a lapsed Mormon sf writer), and everything in between, this collection is the kind of thing that you can never unread, a book that will awaken you to the present all around you.” —Cory Doctorow

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