Synopses & Reviews
Scientology is known for its celebrity believers and its team of “volunteer ministers” at disaster sites such as the World Trade Center; its notably aggressive response to criticism or its attacks on psychiatry; its requirement that believers pay as much as hundreds of thousands of dollars to reach the highest levels of salvation. But for all its notoriety, Scientology has remained America’s least understood new religion, even as it has been one of its most successful.
Now Janet Reitman tells its riveting full story in the first objective modern history of Scientology, at last revealing the astonishing truth about life within the controversial religion for its members and ex-members. We watch the singular L. Ron Hubbard transform a self-help group into a worldwide spiritual corporation, at one point running the church from his personal fleet on the high seas before establishing its base in sleepy Clearwater, Florida. As he became increasingly paranoid and reclusive a young acolyte named David Miscavige assumed control; after Hubbard’s death in 1986 he quickly purged the ranks and began to transform the church once again. Miscavige has overseen some of the church’s greatest triumphs—among them a controversial billion-dollar IRS tax exemption and Tom Cruise’s emergence as a vocal advocate—but he also has created a climate of fear and intimidation, according to ex-members whose stories of abuse Reitman shares. Reitman is the first to examine his twenty-five year reign and what it might mean for the future of the church.
Based on five years of research, confidential documents, and extensive interviews with current and former Scientologists, this is an utterly compelling work of nonfiction and the defining work on an elusive faith.
"Anyone who missed the recent investigative accounts of the Church of Scientology will benefit from this exhaustive history of the controversial sect. A contributing editor at Rolling Stone, Reitman has expanded on her 13,000-word story on Scientology, which ran in 2006, to produce a detailed and readable examination of the life of L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of the church, and his successor, David Miscavige. The book is rife with astonishing accounts of the abuses of power, the purges, and the climate of fear and intimidation commonplace in the top ranks of the organization. What's lacking is a thoughtful analysis of what Scientology represents within the broader 21st-century culture, and why people fall prey to its ideas. Reitman plows through her abundant material without an organizing narrative arc; consequently, many of the chapters pile on without providing satisfying conclusions. The only hopeful conclusion Reitman offers and most readers will agree is that Scientology is shrinking, with less than 250,000 members worldwide. (July)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"You've got to hand it to L. Ron Hubbard. He might have been relegated to the minor ranks of science fiction writers except that he figured out that spiritual seekers in post-nuclear America craved a personal understanding of the self and the universe -- and they would gladly pay for that knowledge again and again and again and again ...
Which is the delightful foundation of Janet Reitman's compelling, rich and courageous explanation of Hubbard's contribution to the 20th century, the religion called Scientology, now in its sixth decade. Yes, there are third-generation Scientologists." Anne Saker, The Oregonian
(Read the entire Oregonian review
Scientology, created in 1954 by a prolific sci-fi writer named L. Ron Hubbard, claims to be the worlds fastest growing religion, with millions of members around the world and huge financial holdings. Its celebrity believers keep its profile high, and its teams of “volunteer ministers” offer aid at disaster sites such as Haiti and the World Trade Center. But Scientology is also a notably closed faith, harassing journalists and others through litigation and intimidation, even infiltrating the highest levels of the government to further its goals. Its attacks on psychiatry and its requirement that believers pay as much as tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars for salvation have drawn scrutiny and skepticism. And ex-members use the Internet to share stories of harassment and abuse.
Now Janet Reitman offers the first full journalistic history of the Church of Scientology, in an evenhanded account that at last establishes the astonishing truth about the controversial religion. She traces Scientologys development from the birth of Dianetics to today, following its metamorphosis from a pseudoscientific self-help group to a worldwide spiritual corporation with profound control over its followers and even ex-followers.
Based on five years of research, unprecedented access to Church officials, confidential documents, and extensive interviews with current and former Scientologists, this is the defining book about a little-known world.
The first book to tell the full story of the most secretive religion in America
A revelatory, page-turning investigation that pulls back the curtain on life inside Scientology
“Inside Scientology is an engrossing, groundbreaking work that brings a welcome sense of fair-mindedness to a subject that is, for many journalists and scholars, too hot to touch. Reitman has accomplished the miracle of adding light without heat.”—Lawrence Wright, author of The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11
“Inside Scientology goes beyond the celebrities and the scandals—though they’re here in all their absurdity and horror—to find in Scientology a more profound story about ‘technology’ as an article of faith and faith as a vessel for science, or, at least, science fiction. With precision and empathy, Janet Reitman has in this definitive investigation laid bare the genesis and possibly the endgame of America’s strangest religion.”—Jeff Sharlet, author of The Family and C Street
How is it that America's most popular new religion is still its least understood? Janet Reitman sheds some long-awaited light on the ever-elusive faith organization, the Church of Scientology. Based on five years of research, access to confidential documents, and extensive interviews with current and former Scientologists, this is the first objective modern history of the notoriously secretive faith.
“A masterful piece of reporting . . . Reitman tells a spellbinding story of a larger-than-life personality whose quirks, ticks and charisma shaped Americas newest homegrown religious movement.” — Washington Post
Scientology is known for its celebrity believers and its team of “volunteer ministers” at disaster sites such as the World Trade Center; its notably aggressive response to criticism or its attacks on psychiatry; its requirement that believers pay as much as hundreds of thousands of dollars to reach the highest levels of salvation. But for all its notoriety, Scientology has remained Americas least understood new religion, even as it has been one of its most successful.
Now Janet Reitman tells its riveting full story in the first objective modern history of Scientology, at last revealing the astonishing truth about life within the controversial religion for its members and ex-members. Based on five years of research, confidential documents, and extensive interviews with current and former Scientologists, this is an utterly compelling work of nonfiction and the defining work on an elusive faith.
“A meticulously researched history and revealing exposé, a frightening portrait of a religion that many find not just controversial, but dangerous.” — Boston Globe
“This book is fearless.” — Wall Street Journal
A New York Times Notable Book
Amazon.com Best Books of 2011, Nonfiction
San Francisco Chronicle Top Ten of 2011
About the Author
JANET REITMAN is a contributing editor at Rolling Stone. Her work has appeared in GQ, Men's Journal, the Los Angeles Times Sunday Magazine, and the Washington Post, among other publications. She holds a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University, and was a finalist for a National Magazine Award in 2007 for the story "Inside Scientology."