Destroying the World to Save It: Aum Shinrikyo, Apocalyptic Violence, and the New Global Terrorism

Front Cover
Henry Holt and Company, Sep 1, 2000 - Political Science - 384 pages

National Book Award winner and renowned psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton reveals a world at risk from millennial cults intent on ending it all.

Since the earliest moments of recorded history, prophets and gurus have foretold the world's end, but only in the nuclear age has it been possible for a megalomaniac guru with a world-ending vision to bring his prophecy to pass. Now Robert Jay Lifton offers a vivid and disturbing case in point in this chilling exploration of Aum Shinrikyo, the Japanese cult that released sarin nerve gas in the Tokyo subways.

With unprecedented access to former Aum members, Lifton has produced a pathbreaking study of the inner life of a modern millennial cult. He shows how Aum's guru Shoko Asahara (charismatic spiritual leader, con man, madman) created a religion from a global stew of New Age thinking, ancient rituals, and apocalyptic science fiction, then recruited scientists as disciples and set them to producing weapons of mass destruction. Taking stock as well of Charles Manson, Heaven's Gate, and the Oklahoma City bombers, Lifton confronts the frightening possibility of a twenty-first century in which cults and terrorists may be able to bring about their own holocausts.
Bold and compelling, Destroying the World to Save It charts the emergence of a new global threat of urgent concern to us all.


What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - kukulaj - LibraryThing

This might be the scariest book I have ever read. It was written in 1999... before the Twin Towers attack. Lifton warns us that Aum Shinrikyo would likely be the start... well, a further step in a ... Read full review

DESTROYING THE WORLD TO SAVE IT: Aum Shinrikyo, Apocalyptic Violence, and the New Global Terrorism

User Review  - Kirkus

A study of the historical and psychological origins and meanings of the Japanese cult Aum Shinriky?, by the noted psychiatrist and author Lifton. On March 5, 1995, members of Aum, at the direction of ... Read full review


Ends and Beginnings
The Guru and His Cult
Imagining the
Forcing the
Clones of the Guru
The Ecstatic Science
Killing to Heal
Crossing the Threshold
A Japanese Phenomenon?
Forcing the End American Style
Inward Aum?
Also by Robert Jay Lifton

Ultimate Weapons Ultimate Attraction

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2000)

A Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at John Jay College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, Robert Jay Lifton is the author of many important works, including The Nazi Doctors, winner of the L.A. Times Book Prize, and Death in Life, which won a National Book Award.

Bibliographic information