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Hostage to the devil : the possession and…
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Hostage to the devil : the possession and exorcism of five living… (original 1976; edition 1992)

by Malachi Martin

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4601038,709 (3.76)12
One On One With Satan A chilling and highly convincing account of possession and exorcism in modern America, hailed by NBC Radio as "one of the most stirring books on the contemporary scene."
Member:matthewlipscomb
Title:Hostage to the devil : the possession and exorcism of five living Americans
Authors:Malachi Martin
Info:[San Francisco, Calif.] : HarperSanFrancisco, 1992.
Collections:Your library
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Hostage to the Devil: The Possession and Exorcism of Five Contemporary Americans by Malachi Martin (1976)

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Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
Riveting and perspective changing.

Tells the story of the exorcism of five Americans from the 1910's up to the 1960's. Probably not for everyone. And what you glean from it (or any reading matter for that matter) depends on the way you approach it. Whether you see it as merely sensationalism, or whether you see the myriad doorways that Evil gains a foothold, the battle field and ultimate prize being the soul.

Though I have to admit, some parts did creep me out enough that I could only read it when the sun was out.

I would honestly only recommend this to certain people. Possibly only those who are researching spiritual warfare and such. Otherwise it may be too dark, too sensational, too "out of this world". ( )
  kephradyx | Jun 20, 2017 |
On the other side of the coin— Lucifer’s side— the belief that he does not exist at all is an enormous advantage that he has never enjoyed to such a great degree. It is the ultimate camouflage. Not to believe in evil is not to be armed against it. To disbelieve is to be disarmed. If your will does not accept the existence of evil, you are rendered incapable of resisting evil. Those with no capacity of resistance become prime targets for Possession.
- from Malachi Martin's "Hostage to the Devil"

I've had my eye on this little piece of non-fiction history/horror for a few years. But between us...I was too scared to read it. Religiously-based horror is the sub-genre that freaks me out the most (and when you throw children in the mix!? Forget about it). But for this Halloween season I took a deep breath and jumped in.

I'm not religious, and would consider myself a fairly skeptical individual. I do love fiction and I have a broad capacity to suspend my disbelief. Malachi Martin's novel is a piece of non-fiction - true stories of possession and exorcism.
Martin describes these exclusively contemporary accounts as "dramatic illustrations of the way in which personal and intelligent evil moves cunningly along the lines of contemporary fads and interests, and within the usual bounds of experience of ordinary men and women.” That’s cool. I’ll suspend my disbelief for that!

The five stories of possession (and a sixth smaller story) are bracketed by Martin's analyses of possession, exorcism and their place within contemporary popular history and church culture. His writing is clear and vocabulary large. His writing is infused with a palpable passion and erudite depth.

Malachi describes: "The stories that are told on these occasions are dramatic and painful: strange physical ailments in the possessed; marked mental derangement; obvious repugnance to all signs, symbols, mention, and sight of religious objects, places, people, ceremonies."

Each story runs about 80 pages, though a reader's expectations should be clear: the exorcism itself runs 10-20 pages at the most. The rest of the stories detail the backstory of each victim and each priest. The stories are not connected by character nor time.

I chose to read this book with an 'accepting' mindset. I'm the first to admit, while I'm an iPhone-totin' skeptic and rationalist, I passionately embrace the idea that something supernatural or alien can exist. Martin treats his subject very seriously and addresses the doubters: "Church authorities always insist on thorough examinations of the person brought to them for Exorcism, an examination conducted by qualified medical doctors and psychiatrists."

"Certainly, many who claim to be possessed or whom others so describe are merely the victims of some mental or physical disease. In reading records from times when medical and psychological science did not exist or were quite undeveloped, it is clear that grave mistakes were made. A victim of disseminated sclerosis, for example, was taken to be possessed because of his spastic jerkings and slidings and the shocking agony in spinal column and joints. Until quite recently, the victim of Tourette’s syndrome was the perfect target for the accusation of “Possessed!”: torrents of profanities and obscenities, grunts, barks, curses, yelps, snorts, sniffs, tics, foot stomping, facial contortions all appear suddenly and just as suddenly cease in the subject. Nowadays, Tourette’s syndrome responds to drug treatment, and it seems to be a neurological disease involving a chemical abnormality in the brain. Many people suffering from illnesses and diseases well known to us today such as paranoia, Huntington’s chorea, dyslexia, Parkinson’s disease, or even mere skin diseases (psoriasis, herpes I, for instance), were treated as people “possessed” or at least as “touched” by the Devil."

The book is vivid, without being lewd nor lurid. Martin is graphic, and while the book isn’t dramatically frightening, it’s inherent topic is downright scary. "Violent physical transformations seem sometimes to make the lives of the possessed a kind of hell on earth. Their normal processes of secretion and elimination are saturated with inexplicable wrackings and exaggeration...Reflexes sometimes become sporadic or abnormal, sometimes disappear for a time. Breathing can cease for extended periods. Heartbeats are hard to detect. The face is strangely distorted, sometimes also abnormally tight and smooth without the slightest line or furrow."

“Hostage to the Devil” is extremely well written, thought out and considered, and freely dips into theological considerations across a range of secular and non secular ideas. This book is quite heavy, with numerous pages covering the psychophysical characteristics of each characters relation to the specific event. It's an enjoyable, but not easy, read.

Highly recommended. ( )
  JGolomb | Oct 28, 2014 |
Hauntingly real and very accurate descriptions of not necessarily the exorcism themselves but rather the circumstances and backgrounds of the various possessed persons and what led up to their exorcisms. Very well written too! The most scary thing for me was how accurate depictions of exorcisms in certain other media seem to me (eg. The Exorcist movie). ( )
  SkuldOMG | Dec 31, 2013 |
Regardless of my feelings about the veracity of possession and exorcism, this is well researched and presented book. The appendix includes part of the Roman Catholic exorcism ritual, which made it a controversial book at the time. ( )
  Georges_T._Dodds | Mar 30, 2013 |
Don't expect to sleep well after reading this. ( )
  Jaime_Gonzalez | Feb 28, 2013 |
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Epigraph
How are you fallen from Heaven,
Lucifer! Son of the Dawn!
Cut down to the ground!
And once you dominated the peoples!

Didn't you say to yourself:
I will be as high as Heaven!
I will be more exalted than the stars of God!
I will, indeed, be the supreme leader!
In the privileged places!
I will be higher than the Skies!
I will be the same as the Most High God!

But you shall be brought down to Hell,
to the bottom of its pit.
And all who see you,
will despise you. ...
-Isaiah 14:12-19
... "Lord! In your name, even evil spirits are under
our control!"

And He said to them: "I saw Satan falling like
lightning from Heaven.
You know: I gave you power ...
over all the strength of Satan. ...
Nevertheless, don't take pride in the fact
that spirits are subject to your control,
but, rather, because you belong to God ...
The Father has given Me all power. ..."
-Luke 10:17-22
Dedication
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When the search party reached the disused grain store known locally as Puh-Chi (One Window), the bombing of Nanking was at its height.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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One On One With Satan A chilling and highly convincing account of possession and exorcism in modern America, hailed by NBC Radio as "one of the most stirring books on the contemporary scene."

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