By Stephany Spencer: My Book Review of my cousin Anna LeBaron’s Memoir: “The Polygamist’s Daughter”
Thanks to Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., I was honored with a complimentary ARC (Advance Reader Copy) of cousin Anna LeBaron’s bravely written book, “The Polygamist’s Daughter,” published March 21, 2017.
Regarding Anna’s Memoir, I was disappointed she didn’t tell us more about her miscreant father, “Evil Ervil,” (the murderous “Mormon Manson”). Also wish she had gone more into the details of her “running away from home.” (I would not have cared if the book were longer!)
As it was, her book said very little about her colorful father. And her “running away” was simply to call her married sister to take her in — a sister within walking distance, no less. Still, I have to give her credit for having had the sense and courage to run away at the tender age of thirteen, no less! For having run away, she might even very well have been killed by the cult she fled!
Even so, in essence, her book was milquetoast for me, in comparison to what was really going on in her family and father’s violent cult that drove her to flee the abusive and corrupt lifestyle. However, I realize she was between a rock and a hard spot when it came to relating this treacherous past.
I, an old veteran of much of that history, also realize that if she were totally up front, it would possibly compromise her present and future — and her amazing success in surviving her malevolent past.
Her father is my mother’s brother. And was my husband’s buddy for ten years — so I knew him well … as well as you could know a devious man like my Uncle Ervil LeBaron for whom I had felt love and respect, till he went off the deep end in his psychopathy.
Now I feel mostly pity and shame for my now-deceased but charismatic zealot uncle who, though mentally ill, sociopathic and revengeful, nonetheless, had a lot of people convinced he was a prophet.
To better understand that whole scenario, read “Cult Insanity” by Irene Spencer;” “Prophet of Blood,” by Ben Bradlee, Jr. and Dale Van Atta. And “The 4 O’clock Murders,” by Scott Anderson.
To further understand this whole bizarre crime family scene, also check Wikipedia and other online Info about Ervil LeBaron, including my Website Menu bar under “Media About my Family, Friends, and Mormon Fundamentalist Cults.” And “Famous ‘n’ Infamous Relatives of Mine.” You could, as well, watch the excellent film, “Prophet of Evil,” starring Brian Dennehy.
Getting back to Anna LeBaron’s Memoir, “The Polygamist’s Daughter,” everyone in the LeBaron Colony in the 1960’s saw how Uncle Ervil went about preaching and “doing missionary work, ” indifferent toward his nine neglected children he bore by his first wife, bipolar Aunt Delfina.
These indigent kids were left to roam the streets, starving, and unkempt — not to mention his fifty or more other deprived and abandoned children he bore by his thirteen other wives!
So it hurt to the quick to hear, firsthand, in Anna’s Memoir how it felt for her to be so badly neglected and used by her non-empathetic, uncaring, sense-of-entitlement, narcissistic father!
But when I then read how his unloved and abused daughter Lillian died, I grieved for days. She was one of Aunt Delfina’s children whom I had helped look out for while I lived near them in the LeBaron Colony in Mexico before I escaped the cult in 1967 at age twenty-one.
Lillian was only around five or so, then. And I don’t believe Anna had been born yet. But I had lived across the street from her jolly mother with the beautiful singing voice, Aunt Anna Mae. And had taught her older siblings in my Colonia LeBaron Preschool I started in my home at age fifteen.
Therefore, though I wish Anna had gone more into depth, I’m proud of her efforts and the work she put into writing and publishing all that she did of her Life Story. I’m sure her tragic memories were anything but easy to have to relive in order to put into print.
As for her story, for me, it really picked up in the latter part where she began to shoot from the hip. I especially found it enlightening and helpful when she went into detail about how she overcame a bout of deep depression.
I benefited, also, when she told of her epiphany that gave her a new lease on life — a greater purpose for living. She is presently a Life Coach. And works to help improve the world — just the opposite of what her father did!
Though her father preached that he was “Here to set the house of God in order, to prepare it for the second coming of Christ,” in reality, he did just the opposite of everything he preached and claimed!!
Like her father, she is bright, a writer, and a leader. Unlike her father, she exhibits integrity, sanity, empathy, and a loving, giving spirit. So my hat goes off to Anna! She has come a long way, made a lot of good choices, and overcome a lot. I look forward to her next book — when she feels safe to actually “tell all.”