A powerful work of investigative journalism about a notorious cult based in Melbourne, Australia, that captured world-wide headlines.
The apocalyptic group The Family and their guru, Anne Hamilton-Byrne, captured international headlines throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Starting in Melbourne, Australia, their tentacles spread to Britain, Upstate New York, and Hawaii.
Hamilton-Byrne, who told some followers she was Jesus Christ returned in disguise, was glamorous and charismatic—and dangerous. She stole children through adoption scams and imprisoned them, bleaching their hair blonde to make them look like siblings and raising them as her own. In 1987, police swooped on The Family’s lakeside compound and rescued children who claimed they were part of Anne’s future master race, recounting terrible stories of near-starvation, emotional manipulation, and physical abuse. But Anne could not be found, sparking an international police hunt. After an extensive search, the FBI captured her in the Catskills, and helped bring her to trial.
How did such a notorious group come to flourish? How did Anne maintain a hold over her followers? The Family tells the strange and shocking story of one of the most bizarre cults in modern history.