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Publisher's Summary

As seen in the HBO docuseries The Vow: A jaw-dropping insider look into the world of the so-called "Hollywood Sex Cult" NXIVM chronicling the rise of enigmatic cult leader Keith Raniere from its "Patient Zero", his former girlfriend and test subject for his coercive control techniques.

Many have heard of NXIVM and its creator, Keith Raniere, the unassuming Albany man now prosecuted for ensnaring tens of thousands of people in the US, Mexico, Canada, and elsewhere to do his bidding and pay millions of dollars to participate in his self-improvement methodology. But where did Keith Raniere begin? 

Enter Toni Natalie, Keith's Patient Zero, the first one indoctrinated into Raniere's methodology and the first one to escape. The Program begins with the origin story of NXIVM, follows its rise to international prominence, and takes the listener into the downfall of Raniere through Toni's eyes. During this time, she bore witness to the evolution of his methodology, including his use of sex, blackmail, and employment of psychological tools such as neuro-linguistic programming to control and punish those who would not heed his wishes. She uniquely details the fortunes lost and the lives left in disarray that she witnessed contemporaneously, including members of DOS, a group of women coerced into sexual acts under the guise of a "women's empowerment" inner circle, whom Raniere exercised extreme control over directly and through his lieutenants.

But far from being a victim's story, in the spirit of Erin Brockovich, Toni's is a nuanced narrative of a multi-dimensional woman saving herself, and then working tirelessly to help other women do the same for themselves. Today, Toni is happy, reunited with her son, and surrounded by friends and family - it is this perspective that makes her such a unique storyteller.

©2019 Toni Natalie and Chet Hardin (P)2019 Grand Central Publishing

What listeners say about The Program

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Very interesting story

The story is good, well written, however I really disliked Toni Natalie’s narration. Kind of flat at times, voice seems to fade in and out.
Would have been far better if someone else narrated

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The honest performance is its strength.

Toni’s performance is genuine and imperfect, and I think that’s where its strength lies. She doesn’t put on a show or attempt to portray anything that she’s not. I found that incredibly honest and sincere and appreciated the vulnerability involved. The messages she delivers to the jurors and those involved in the court case really pulled at my heart strings. Definitely a must listen for anyone fascinated by all things NXIVM.

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Great book

First audio book. Loved it. I was immersed from the beginning to the end. Amazing!

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  • Dennis Hinkamp
  • 2019-10-20

Important addation to the NXIVM story

I've read this and "Scarred" and together they give you a better insight into NXIVM but I'm still waiting for a more complete story. This book is good at describing the origin years but the author and narrator was separated from NXIVM and Raniere for many years. The narration, thought authoritative by the author, is sort of flat; it could have used a little more production value.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Brittany
  • 2020-10-14

Most comprehensive understanding of NXIVM and its origins

This book was great! I’m happy Toni was able to share her harrowing story after so many years of torment. I also thought the narration was great too (despite what other commenters felt).

I kept reading other articles and listening to podcasts and watching shows about NXVIM but always found myself with so many unanswered questions. This one actually answered them all! A great look into nxvim, its origins and the evil that is Keith Raniere. It was so much more awful than I can even begin to comprehend!

5 people found this helpful

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  • Victoria Eriksson
  • 2020-07-07

Wow!

This is the 3rd book I've read about NXVIM, and the umpteenth book about cults I've read, but this one is extremely impressive. Toni is so incredibly brave and bright. I cried listening to her unflinching crusade to take down Keith, she is a truly courageous woman who I guarantee any who read this book, will come to respect as much as I do. Her pains to present the legal and psychological research into the dynamics of coercive relationships and destructive cults is an extremely impressive feat. It did not take me more than a few minutes into the book to start rooting for her as if she were my friend. I finished the book in less than 3 days, it was very gripping.

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  • There Might Be Cupcakes Podcast
  • 2021-02-14

Not as the title beckons

The title states that this book delves into the mind of Keith Raniere. This book delves into the mind of the author. Furthermore, Natalie wants to be important in the history of NXIVM, which disturbed me, given how many people have suffered. She states at least once, and has cult expert Rick Ross state twice in his intro, that she was the first to take Raniere down. The evidence doesn’t pan out, frankly; it’s not that simple. And it doesn’t matter. I have seen this distasteful behavior before, concerning the FLDS trial, and who was the first whistleblower. One book, which I won’t name here, is a lie, because it was published during the beginning of the trial, because the person was in such a hurry to make Natalie’s claims.

I hung on through Natalie’s awkward and unprofessional narration after that red flag at the beginning. The book ends with her giving cutesy shoutouts to several different jurors—“I loved the way you rolled your eyes, Juror 12”.

This book is all about Natalie.

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  • Maayan Tuati Saraga
  • 2020-01-09

excellent

Toni Natalie had so much information this book is only a part of what really happened to her. She should write part 2. Thank you both for telling the story and showing it to the world the way you did because people have to be informed on what is a cult and how it can destroy your life without you knowing it.

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  • jaye
  • 2019-11-27

I enjoyed the story very much

It was an interesting story read by the author. I found in the beginning of the book I did not like the reader but as the story went on I found the reader just fine. This is a true story that seems pretty unbelievable. The story was well told and I recommend this book.

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  • Huldren
  • 2020-12-08

A wonderful book by a strong woman

This is going to stand as a classic to read for anyone who’s had the misfortune of knowing a psychopath. Not just for former cult members, Toni Natalie’s book is a great book for anyone who needs inspiration through a difficult period. Natalie is strong, but even more, empathetic and wise, and I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about how psychopaths act.

1 person found this helpful

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  • J. L. S-B
  • 2020-11-27

Such a good book! By far the best on NXIVM

This is the best veiw into Reniere's evil out there. THANK YOU TONI! Narration by Toni herself was a bonus. Definitely recommend.

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  • Tori
  • 2020-10-01

Good bio but uneven delivery

enjoyed the story, but the authors voice is uneven with her volume. got annoying after awhile of turning the volume up and down depending on the chapter

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  • Elise OBrien
  • 2020-03-04

Informative

I really enjoyed Toni's story and getting an inside view on what would become NIXVM. The only down side were a few chapters where Toni sounded tired or strained from speaking so much.

1 person found this helpful