Good Reads: Investigating cults, drug mules, and Martin Luther King

This is the fifth in a new series of weekly posts recommending well-written narrative nonfiction/longform articles.

The Man Who Saves You from Yourself: Going undercover with a cult infiltrator by Nathaniel Rich, Harper’s

David Sullivan, a private investigator in LA who specialized in cults, passed away last October, shortly before this article was published. The piece tells the story of his investigative work, beginning with his initial fascination with cults and the following realization:

The spiritual groups, he soon realized, shared a simple tactic: they demanded that their followers suspend critical thought. “They’d say, ‘You have to break out of your Western mentality. You’re too judgmental. You have to abandon your whole psychological-intellectual framework. Your obsessive materialism is blocking you from seeing the truth.'”

A quick-moving piece broken up by somewhat disturbing scenes of a cult leader brainwashing a young women.

[NOTE: This piece is NOT appropriate for all ages.]

The Sinaloa Cartel’s 90-year-old Drug Mule by Sam Dolnick, New York Times Magazine

At first glance, you would never guess it: this elderly, seemingly innocent grandpa of a man primarily interested in horticulture, ferried some of the Sinaloa drug cartel’s largest shipments of cocaine. Looks are deceiving.

How the FBI Tried to Block Martin Luther King’s Commencement Speech by Martin Dobrow, The Atlantic

More historical than artistic, this piece tells the unheard story of the government’s attempts to keep MLK from sharing his “controversial” ideas in a college commencement speech. Spoiler alert: The FBI lost.

What do you suggest?

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