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NEW YORK TIMES
Sunday Book Review
July 19, 2009
Review by Mick Sussman
"...in Tamm’s memoir, the guru himself appears narcissistic to a degree befitting a man who proclaimed himself an avatar of God....Tamm’s indictment is more effective for being conveyed, with little rancor, from the view of a trusting child who dutifully adored the guru and only haltingly, in young adulthood, became disenchanted." [Click here to read the rest of this review]
People Magazine: A Four out of Four Star Review - April 27, 2009
The story of Tamm’s birth—that she pressed her hands together in prayer at barely an hour old—was as festooned with mythology as the spiritual leader Sri Chinmoy, who deemed her his “Chosen One.” Tamm recounts how the title meant little; as a member of the controversial religious group, she was subjected to constant manipulation. She says he held “ugly girl” contests and sought to control their private lives, even telling a member to have an abortion. Tamm, who left the group at age 24 after having a psychological breakdown, writes with wit, but her hurt is obvious. Yet as she did after performing cartwheels for Chinmoy (who died in ’07), the now happily married mother lands on her feet—and her effort is worthy of applause. –Reviewed by Beth Perry
NPR Talk of the Nation - April 3, 2009
Listen to my interview on National Public Radio's show, "Talk of the Nation," discussing my memoir, Cartwheels in a Sari.
Forbes.com Book Review
Under The Thumb Of Cult Leader Sri Chinmoy
Cults are notorious for convincing people to do the unthinkable. In March, a member of the now-defunct One Mind Ministries pleaded guilty to starving her son to death. Allegedly, she and other cult members stopped feeding the 1-year-old because he wouldn't say "amen" at mealtime.
Back in 1993, David Koresh's Branch Davidian sect ended in a conflagration after a 51-day standoff with the FBI. In 1978, over 900 members of the People's Temple died at Jonestown, Guyana, in a mass murder-suicide; and in 1997, scores of Heaven's Gate followers killed themselves in California.
[Click here to read the rest of this review]
In this frank, clear-eyed memoir, Tamm recounts her youth as the chosen disciple of Sri Chinmoy, the
wildly charismatic leader of a New York–based spiritual sect that counts celebrities and heads of nations
among its millions of followers. “All of my childhood memories involve trying to obey and please guru,”
Tamm writes, and with concise, absorbing detail, she describes her early years, spent playing board games such as “Disciple Chutes and Ladders” (“Did not meditate soulfully—Go back ten spaces”); her chaste but forbidden teen encounters with guys, after which the Guru reminds her, “The Supreme is your eternity’s boyfriend”; and a young-adult crisis that leads to a suicide attempt and, ultimately, her break with the cult. Tamm never sensationalizes the facts, and her narrative restraint only intensifies the emotional impact of each incident. Witty, compassionate, and often heartbreaking, Tamm’s story offers crucial insight into a cult’s inner workings and methods of indoctrination. All readers, though, will recognize universal coming-of-age themes as Tamm discards unwanted childhood lessons and begins to shape an independent adult life.
Read my Op Ed piece in The Washington Post
August 9, 2009
At my local bookstore on the eve of the 40th anniversary of Woodstock, 1960s nostalgia is in high gear. A display table is stacked high with pricey coffee table books, each with its own variation on psychedelic rainbow lettering, each claiming to reveal the untold story of the "peace and music" festival. I understand the lucrative business of selling those hazy memories -- the Woodstock museum, Cherry Garcia ice cream, even the new movie "Taking Woodstock." I just can't buy into it. [Click here to read the rest of this article]