The following is a review of the German-language book “Goodbye, Jehova! Wie ich die bekannteste Sekte der Welt verließ” (English: Goodbye, Jehovah! How I left the world’s most notorious cult) by Misha Anouk, as penned by an appreciative reader, Libby Partridge.
I began reading this book with some trepidation, fearing that it would be similar to many other cult survivor stories, fraught with bitterness and anxiety, tearing apart their pasts, filled with horror stories of mistreatment and abuse, etc.
Right from the beginning, though, I was caught up in the sincerity of Misha’s experience, and the book was impossible to put down without wanting to spend more time in his company. Misha writes in a very entertaining, informal style but with tender sincerity and the occasional humor.
This masterful narrative of Misha’s journey in Goodbye, Jehova! is written with utmost accuracy and authority, detailed with copious sources for reference throughout and listed in the annex.
45 million Watchtowers in more than 200 languages are distributed worldwide and yet most people probably know very little about the adherents to this religious group.
Having a history (40 years) within the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses myself, I can vouch for the contents in regards to the methodology of this religious organization and its much misunderstood and seriously sinister practices.
As the title indicates, Misha tells of his exit – what led up to it, how it transpired and how he, after many years and despite the personal challenges it caused, managed to land squarely on his feet.
Misha has the ability to explain the circular reasoning the leaders of the Watchtower use to coerce fierce loyalty from their followers without doling out blame on any individual member. He can do this because he too was force-fed JW propaganda and believed it to be true for most of his formative years, living as was expected of him by his parents and peers.
If he had doubts, there must be something wrong with him – or so he reasoned. I as well as most ex-JWs can relate to this gnawing feeling.
In his book, Misha takes his own story and turns it into “new light” with regards to how we understand the twisted logic behind the fear, the blame, the shunning, the ostracism, the “us versus them” attitude Jehovah’s Witnesses have, not to mention the influences behind Watchtower devotees suffering from such elitist notions in measuring themselves against the rest of mankind.
The really great thing about this book is that it doesn’t leave you hanging. Yes, he goes on to reveal all the ins-and-outs of the turmoil he experienced that led him to be expunged from the cult (disfellowshipped), and he brings us to a conclusion by showing us what happens after leaving and being shunned by everyone you have ever known.
Misha gives us a detailed rundown of the steps to survival as an ex-JW, a dissident, a “mentally diseased” person (as Jehovah’s Witnesses call those who leave the fold). He tells of the denial, anger, negotiations and the ultimate life-draining depression. And finally he shows us that there IS a release that comes from recognizing, albeit after many years and therapy, that one is no longer afraid.
With knowledge and understanding comes a realization, not only why his struggle was so difficult, but also how it brought him to understand himself.
Goodbye Jehova! is a book that will be understood and appreciated by anyone, ex-Jehovah’s Witness or not. I give it 5 stars.
To order a copy of Goodbye, Jehova! from Amazon, click here.
Misha is CEO of a new organization for ex-JWs, JWalumni.org, with which JWsurvey is proudly affiliated.
Goodbye, Jehova! is currently only available in german-speaking countries through renowned publisher Rowohlt (Hamburg). If any American or UK publisher is interested in translating this book, please contact Rowohlt’s foreign rights division via this link.