After the last two blog posts, several readers and acquaintances asked me to recommend some books on the topic of demonic possession and exorcism. Over the last few years, I read several non-fiction books on the topic.
1. “Hostage to the Devil” by the late Fr. Malachi Martin. A book that opened my eyes to the phenomenon of demonic possession in modern America. A very well-written, but obviously fictionalized account that has a cinematic quality to it. However, it must be noted that Catholic priests experienced in exorcism have accused Martin of being too hysterical in his descriptions, especially in the effect of exorcism on the performing priests. My friend Rabbi Mayer Schiller aptly described it as one of the scariest books ever written.
2. “The Rite” by Matt Baglio (who later wrote “Argo”). A non-fiction work that follows Fr. Gary Thomas, a priest from the diocese of San Jose in California when he travels to the Vatican to receive training from famous Italian exorcists such as Fr. Gabriele Amorth. A very well-written book by a secular journalist who is respectful of the Church and seems to become a believer in demonic possession. NB: the movie with Anthony Hopkins made from this book (also called “The Rite”) is terrible and should be avoided.
3. “The Vatican’s Exorcists” by Tracy Wilkinson. A fascinating non-fiction account of exorcists and exorcism in Italy. Respectfully written by another secular journalist, the book exudes authenticity. I doubt that anyone who will read this and “The Rite” could still harbor doubts about the sinister reality of demonic possession.
4. “Dark Sacrament” by David Kiely and Christina McKenna. A collection of reminiscences by two exorcists in Ireland and Ulster: Anglican (Church of Ireland) Canon William Lendrum and a Catholic monk who uses the pseudonym Fr. Ignatius McCarthy. Like “Hostage to the Devil”, a captivating and scary account that seems heavily fictionalized.
5. “Beware the Night” by former NYPD Sergeant Ralph Sarchie, a traditionalist Catholic who assisted at many exorcisms. An easy-to-read account of demonic possession in the NYC area. Makes for a great travel book if you’re willing to suffer an extended nightmare. I read it on a trip to Aruba in August, flying out from JFK airport to Oranjestadt and was rewarded with a dream the following night in which I assisted my good friend Fr. Joseph Wilson (whom I profiled in a February 2013 Chronicles article “Back to the Catacombs”) in several exorcisms.