Throughout history, Western culture has been bedeviled by false prophets, charlatans, and self-appointed messianic figures. Their appetites for destruction and depravity have led to broken lives and worse-mass suicide and even mass murder. Why does this occur again and again? In Rogue Messiahs, Colin Wilson compellingly recounts the stories and outrageous claims, acts, and abuses of 25 self-proclaimed messiahs who have arisen in the last 300 years. He uncovers the probable factors that turn earnest religious leaders, mystics, or well-intentioned cult leaders into violent, abusive, murderous, and paranoid rogue messiahs. This gallery of spiritual fakers includes many familiar names and faces: David Koresh, leader of the Branch Davidians; Shoko Asahara, founder of the Aum Supreme Truth cult; Rev. Jim Jones; founder of the infamous Jonestown; Jeffrey Don Lundgren, Mormon con man and murderer; Ervil LeBaron and family, deranged cultist, prophets, and murderers; Rock Theriault, late twentieth-century French Canadian self-proclaimed messiah. Further, Wilson includes a study of others who achieved spiritual insight instead of destruction, and demonstrates that mayhem and benevolence are often two sides of the same coin. These would-be messiahs, in Wilson’s analysis, are all driven by a childish dream of absolute power. Almost always, they cross the line from inspiration to paranoia, and from the teaching to killing-genuine aspiration mixed with self-deception, says Wilson. This is an incisive review of the motives and madness of cult leaders, spiritual con men, and would-be saviors.