Suggested Reading

Please find below a selection of books which are Watchtower/Jehovah’s Witness themed, or make frequent references to Jehovah’s Witnesses.  The majority of these books are non-fiction.

Apocalypse Delayed: The Story of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Third Edition

Author: M James Penton

apocalypse delayed penton

Since 1876, Jehovah’s Witnesses have believed that they are living in the last days of the present world. Charles T. Russell, their founder, advised his followers that members of Christ’s church would be raptured in 1878, and by 1914 Christ would destroy the nations and establish his kingdom on earth. The first prophecy was not fulfilled, but the outbreak of the First World War lent some credibility to the second. Ever since that time, Jehovah’s Witnesses have been predicting that the world would end “shortly.” Their numbers have grown to many millions in over two hundred countries. They distribute a billion pieces of literature annually, and continue to anticipate the end of the world.

For almost thirty years, M. James Penton’s Apocalypse Delayed has been the definitive scholarly study of this religious movement. As a former member of the sect, Penton offers a comprehensive overview of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. His book is divided into three parts, each presenting the Witnesses’ story in a different context: historical, doctrinal, and sociological. Some of the issues he discusses are known to the general public, such as the sect’s opposition to military service and blood transfusions. Others involve internal controversies, including political control of the organisation and the handling of dissent within the ranks.

Thoroughly revised, the third edition of Penton’s classic text includes substantial new information on the sources of Russell’s theology and on the church’s early leaders, as well as coverage of important developments within the sect since the second edition was published fifteen years ago.

Barbara Anderson Uncensored: Eyewitness To Deceit

Author: Barbara Anderson & Richard E Kelly

barbara andersonBarbara Anderson was a Jehovah’s Witness from 1954 to 1997. But while working as a researcher and writer at their worldwide headquarters from 1982 thru 1992, something went terribly wrong.  Barbara uncovered a conflict that would derail her plans, and change her life forever. Her unique story shines a bright light on Watchtower/JW.ORG policies that not only protect sexual predators, but unduly influence members to believe policies and beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses are Bible-based and inspired from God.  Barbara’s story also includes unprecedented commentary from Bonnie Zieman, M.Ed., psychotherapist, and author Jon Atack. Bonnie and Jon have written extensively about coercive control and report behind the scenes, while Barbara shares her story, of what was happening psychologically in her high-control world.

Combating Cult Mind Control

Author: Steven Hassan

combattingThis book can help you protect-or regain-your sanity, freedom, and health. It can also help you protect others from the use of mind-control techniques.

The techniques of undue influence have evolved dramatically, and continue to do so. Today, a vast array of methods exist to deceive, manipulate, and indoctrinate people into closed systems of obedience and dependency. Sadly, the essential information in this book is still not widely known or understood. People around the world remain largely unprepared for the new realities of mind control. But you are far from helpless. There is a great deal you can do to stay safe, sane, and whole-and to help the people you care about to do the same. And if someone you love is already part of a mind-control group, there is much you can do to help them break free and rebuild their life. This book will give you the tools you need. As you read this book, you’ll learn to develop, use, and trust your critical thinking skills; your intuition; your bodily and emotional awareness; your ability to ask the right questions; and your skill at doing quick, useful research. You’ll also learn to create a healthy balance of openness and skepticism. As you will see, the entire process begins and ends with discernment.

Crisis of Conscience: The story of the struggle between loyalty to God and loyalty to one’s religion

Author: Raymond Franz

crisis ray franzCrisis of Conscience presents the story of a struggle to prevent the erosion of a God-given freedom of conscience and the ensuing dilemma of choosing between loyalty to God and loyalty to one’s religion.

Former member of the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Raymond Franz delivers a rare glimpse into the inner workings of the Watch Tower Society. In response to extraordinary events, Franz tells a unique account of the decision-making sessions of this religion’s inner council and the powerful, sometimes dramatic, impact their decisions have on Jehovah’s Witnesses. Crisis of Conscience offers a penetrating view of the supreme council of this organisation, the Governing Body and their life altering power over human lives.

While the events of Raymond Franz’s departure from the Governing Body occurred in 1980, the organisational foundation and structure remains the same today, making this account relevant to a whole new generation.

EXiting the JW Cult: A Healing Handbook: For Current & Former Jehovah’s Witnesses

Author: Bonnie Zieman

exit bonnieNumerous books have been written by ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses, exposing the false claims and practices of the cult or describing their personal challenges while leaving it. But when it comes to providing help to individuals in the process of exiting and recovering from the effects of membership in the cult, few compare with EXiting the JW Cult: A Healing Handbook.

Author Bonnie Zieman was born and raised as a Jehovah’s Witness, leaving after thirty years to gain the higher education that she was denied and build a professional life as a psychotherapist. She knows firsthand what it’s like to deal with the inhumane punishments inflicted on anyone who leaves the Watchtower organization—foremost among them, the complete shunning by family and friends.

Drawing from both her personal and professional experiences, Zieman provides aid, advice, encouragement, and insight into the many challenges faced by current and former Jehovah’s Witnesses who are struggling to extricate their lives from this all-controlling cult.

This empowering healing handbook is designed to be used as a reference that individuals can take down off the shelf and use to help themselves during difficult moments along their path to healing emotional wounds and coping in an unfamiliar world.

Freedom of Mind

Author: Steven Hassan

Freedom of MindIn the post 911 world, people are more susceptible than ever to charismatic figures who offer simple, black v. white, us v. them, good v. evil, formulaic solutions. The rise of the Internet; increasingly sophisticated knowledge about how to influence and manipulate others; and the growing vulnerabilities of people across the planet—make for a dangerous, potentially devastating combination. Steven Hassan’s new book Freedom of Mind provides the knowledge and awareness needed to help yourself and loved ones avoid or escape from such dangerous people and situations. This must-read volume is a significantly updated and revised edition of Hassan’s groundbreaking Releasing the Bonds (2000). People who read and benefitted from that book—and also his earlier book, Combatting Cult Mind Control (1989)—will want to read Hassan’s latest. It provides an up-to-the-minute guide to the reality of ‘undue influence’—the preferred term for mind control—in the post 9/11 era. Unstable Global Environment Enhances Dangers of Unethical Control The world has changed greatly in the last decade. The rise of the Internet, the emergence of global terrorism and of dangerous totalistic ideologies, and the shifts in global markets—these and other changes have created new opportunities for unscrupulous individuals, groups, and institutions to exert unethical control over others. Freedom of Mind exposes the techniques and methods that individuals, cults, and institutions of all types—religious, business, therapeutic, educational, governmental—use to undo a person’s capacity to think and act independently. Individuals More Vulnerable than Ever The Internet is now the primary vehicle for recruitment and indoctrination. It is also a means for spreading sophisticated information about social psychology, hypnosis, and other techniques of social control, which are being used—in ways both effective and dangerous—by ‘influence professionals.’ Meanwhile, people are becoming increasingly vulnerable. Sleep-deprived, overweight and looking to improve themselves, overloaded with often frightening images and information; anxious about the current economic decline, climate change, and government corruption on all levels. People are more susceptible than ever to charismatic figures who offer simple, black v. white, us v. them, good v. evil, formulaic solutions. These factors—the rise of the Internet; increasingly sophisticated knowledge about how to influence and manipulate others; and the growing vulnerabilities of people across the planet—make for a dangerous, potentially devastating combination. Freedom of Mind Provides Help for Yourself, a Loved One, or a Friend Hassan’s new book, Freedom of Mind, aims to fill the gap. It identifies and explains how to identify and evaluate potentially dangerous groups and individuals. Hassan details his groundbreaking approach, the ‘Strategic Interactive Approach,’ which can be used to help a loved one leave such a situation. Step-by-step, Hassan shows you how to: evaluate the situation; interact with dual identities; develop communication strategies using phone calls, letter writing and visits; understand and utilize cult beliefs and tactics; use reality-testing and other techniques to promote freedom of mind. He emphasizes the value of meeting with trained consultants to be effectively guided and coached and also to plan and implement effective interventions. 

How to Escape Jehovah’s Witnesses

Author: Lloyd Evans

escape witnessesJehovah’s Witnesses number into the millions globally and are well-known for their public evangelism about God’s kingdom. But beneath the facade of brotherly love and organisational unity lies a captive organisation in which doubts are stifled and dissent is ruthlessly crushed.

Once a Witness stops believing, they face being ostracized as a loathed “mentally diseased” apostate. They must navigate a labyrinth of obstacles and dilemmas due to the organisation’s cruel policy of shunning former members.

Lloyd Evans is a well-known ex-Witness writer and activist, and in his second book he draws on his firsthand, insider knowledge as a former elder to guide would-be escapees through the minefield that awaits them.

How should elders be dealt with? What resources are available for objective research? What should someone do if they are threatened with judicial action? What about coming clean to family members? How does someone go about rebuilding their social circle? What precautions should be taken to maintain privacy when browsing apostate material online? All these questions and more are answered in How to Escape From Jehovah’s Witnesses, described by Paul Grundy of as “an invaluable tool in helping [former Witnesses] move on as efficiently and painlessly as possible.”

Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Third Reich: Sectarian Politics Under Persecution

Author: M James Penton

jw third reich pentonSince the end of World War II, leaders of the Jehovah’s Witness movement in both Germany and elsewhere have steadfastly argued that Witnesses were united in their opposition to Nazism and did not collude with the Third Reich. Documents have been uncovered, however, that prove otherwise. Using materials from Witness archives, the U.S. State Department, Nazi files, and other sources, M. James Penton demonstrates that while many ordinary German Witnesses were brave in their opposition to Nazism, their leaders were quite prepared to support the Hitler government. Penton begins his study with a close reading of the “Declaration of Facts” released by the Witnesses at a Berlin convention in June 1933. Witness leaders have called the document a protest against Nazi persecution, however closer examination shows it contained bitter attacks on Great Britain and the United States – jointly referred to as “the greatest and most oppressive empire on earth” – the League of Nations, big business, and above all, Jews, who are referred to as “the representatives of Satan the Devil.” It was later, in 1933 – when the Nazis would not accept Witness blandishments- that leader J.F. Rutherford called on Witnesses to seek martyrdom by carrying on a campaign of passive resistance. Many ultimately died in prisons and concentration camps, and postwar Witness leaders have attempted to use this fact to assert that Jehovah’s Witnesses stood consistently against Nazism. Drawing on his own Witness background and years of research on Witness history, Penton separates fact from fiction during this dark period.

SHUNNED: A Survival Guide

Author: Bonnie Zieman

shunned bonnieThis survival guide is designed for former members of groups that shun such as The Church of Scientology, The Amish, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, FLDS, Hasidism, Islam, etc., etc. It matters not which group is excluding and shunning you – the strategies to deal with the isolation, grief, trauma, and despair are the same.

If you find yourself alone and lonely suffering under this cruel practice of shunning, this book can act as a companion and survival guide. Many of us have survived shunning and are now thriving despite still being shunned. SHUNNED: A Survival Guide will help you survive and thrive too.

The Gentile Times Reconsidered

Author: Carl O Jonsson

gentile timesCarl Olof Jonsson has written extensively in his research on the beliefs and doctrines of Jehovah’s Witnesses.  The idea that the “Gentile times” referred to at Luke 21:24 form a period of 2,520 years has led to speculation and disappointment among many who expected Christ’s return during the past two centuries.  How did this belief originate and develop? What do the historical and Biblical facts show?


The Reluctant Apostate: Leaving Jehovah’s Witnesses Comes at a Price

Author: Lloyd Evans

reluctant apostateJehovah’s Witnesses, well-known for their enthusiastic evangelism, are a global religious movement boasting over 8 million members. Despite being a familiar sight on doorsteps and street corners, little is known about their doctrines and practices. What are their expectations regarding Armageddon, and who do they believe will survive? How do they justify their ban on blood transfusions? What happens to members who decide to leave?

In this remarkably candid part-memoir, part-history guide, former Witness Lloyd Evans comprehensively explores the religion of his upbringing, charting the organisation’s metamorphosis from unassuming 19th Century brethren to global brand in the modern age.

Though written predominantly with the non-Witness reader in mind, special boxes are also provided for Jehovah’s Witness readers.