Synopses & Reviews
Michelle Goldberg, a senior political reporter for Salon.com, has been covering the intersection of politics and ideology for years. Before the 2004 election, and during the ensuing months when many Americans were trying to understand how an administration marked by cronyism, disregard for the national budget, and poorly disguised self-interest had been reinstated, Goldberg traveled through the heartland of a country in the grips of a fevered religious radicalism: the America of our time. From the classroom to the mega-church to the federal court, she saw how the growing influence of dominionism the doctrine that Christians have the right to rule nonbelievers is threatening the foundations of democracy.
In Kingdom Coming, Goldberg demonstrates how an increasingly bellicose fundamentalism is gaining traction throughout our national life, taking us on a tour of the parallel right-wing evangelical culture that is buoyed by Republican political patronage. Deep within the red zones of a divided America, we meet military retirees pledging to seize the nation in Christ's name, perfidious congressmen courting the confidence of neo-confederates and proponents of theocracy, and leaders of federally funded programs offering Jesus as the solution to the country's social problems.
With her trenchant interviews and the telling testimonies of the people behind this movement, Goldberg gains access into the hearts and minds of citizens who are striving to remake the secular Republic bequeathed by our founders into a Christian nation run according to theirinterpretation of scripture. In her examination of the ever-widening divide between believers and nonbelievers, Goldberg illustrates the subversive effect of this conservative stranglehold nationwide. In an age when faith rather than reason is heralded and the values of the Enlightenment are threatened by a mystical nationalism claiming divine sanction, Kingdom Coming brings us face to face with the irrational forces that are remaking much of America.
"In an impressive piece of lucid journalism, Salon.com reporter Goldberg dives into the religious right and sorts out the history and networks of what to most liberals is an inscrutable parallel universe. She deconstructs 'dominion theology,' the prevalent evangelical assertion that Christians have a 'responsibility to take over every aspect of society.' Goldberg makes no attempt to hide her own partisanship, calling herself a 'secular Jew and ardent urbanite' who wrote the book because she 'was terrified by America's increasing hostility to...cosmopolitan values.' This carefully researched and riveting treatise will hardly allay its audience's fears, however; secular liberals and mainstream believers alike will find Goldberg's descriptions of today's culture wars deeply disturbing. She traces the deep financial and ideological ties between fundamentalist Christians and the Republican Party, and discloses the dangers she believes are inherent to the Bush administration's faith-based social services initiative. Other chapters follow inflammatory political tactics on wedge issues like gay rights, evolution and sex education. Significantly, her conclusions do not come off as hysterical or shrill. Even while pointing to stark parallels between fascism and the language of the religious right, Goldberg's vision of America's future is measured and realistic. Her book is a potent wakeup call to pluralists in the coming showdown with Christian nationalists. (May 15)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[Goldberg] ends by exhorting her readers to retake the country from the grassroots up. If you think that Christianity is the new Communism, then this is the book for you." Kirkus Reviews
"Regardless of where you fall on the moderate-to-progressive political scale, this well-written chronicle of civil liberties under siege by holy rollers will undoubtedly scare the bejesus out of you." David Fear, Time Out New York
"Goldberg's book will be recognized as the definitive guide to how a relatively tiny group of intellectuals, politicians, and conservatives religionists positioned themselves to take over America. This stuff is no joke." Tony Normal, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"Michelle Goldberg has done the impossible. She's written a serious, scathing, eye-opening expose of the ongoing takeover of our country by rightwing Christians and somehow managed to make it witty, funny, and humane. If it were satire, Kingdom Coming would be hilarious. Unfortunately, it's all true things are even worse than you thought. Read it while you can!" Katha Pollitt, columnist, The Nation; author, Virginity or Death!: And Other Social and Political Issues of Our Time
"America's theocrats have to be seen, heard, and read to be believed. Not all of us have the acute senses, stamina, guts and intelligence to uncover these forces of unreason and tyranny directly, so we rely on scouts. Michelle Goldberg is one of our indispensable scouts, and Kingdom Coming is a brave and important book. If you cherish plurality and reason, read it to get the bad news and to restore your faith in journalism." Todd Gitlin, Professor of Journalism, Columbia University, and author of The Intellectuals and the Flag
"Michelle Goldberg ventured into the heartland of American fundamentalist extremism and returned to warn us of the authoritarian ambitions that lie behind the moralistic posturing of the religious right. Every patriot who still cherishes the freedoms we inherited from the nation's founders should read her book." Joe Conason, author of The Hunting of the President, Big Lies, and The Raw Deal
"Michelle Goldberg takes us on an eye-opening journey through the Christian right grass-roots, from the evolution battles in Dover, Pennsylvania to Roy's Rock in Alabama and beyond. Along the way, she makes a devastating case that underlying this movement's campaigns against abortion or gay marriage is a tremendous will to power, an ambition to achieve Christian domination of our public life and laws. Kingdom Coming offers a stark warning that our democracy is under attack from within." Esther Kaplan, author of With God on Their Side: George W. Bush and the Christian Right
"Kingdom Coming reveals just how thoroughly our national discourse has been corrupted by the mad work of religious literalists. Goldberg demonstrates elegantly and persuasively that tens of millions of our neighbors are working each day to obliterate the separation between church and state, to supplant scientific rationality with Iron Age fantasies, and to achieve a Christian theocracy in the 21st century. This is a terrifying and necessary book." Sam Harris, author, The End of Faith
"A chilling and lucid investigation into the rise of Christian extremism in America, as well as a how-to guide for thinking Americans who wish to preserve their civil liberties against the coming onslaught. An important book." Julia Scheeres, author of Jesusland
"Tocqueville said in 1840, 'Various forms of religious madness are quite common in the United States.' Michelle Goldberg demonstrates that various forms of religious madness are still quite common. Tocqueville thought that American democracy could contain the danger. Can it still? Only with an effort. That is Michelle Goldberg's well-illustrated and eloquently expressed point, and she is right to make that point, and we had better pay attention." Paul Berman, author of Terror and Liberalism and Power and the Idealists
"Michelle Goldberg provides a critical wake up call for all Americans about a coalition of right wing Christian conservative groups determined to remake the United States into a Christian nation ruled by their conception of Jesus' will. Every American who cherishes religious freedom, civil liberties and the separation of church and state must read Kingdom Coming." Abraham H. Foxman, National Director, Anti-Defamation League; author, Never Again? The Threat of the New Anti-Semitism
"Michelle Goldberg takes us on a superbly reported inside tour of the far-out Christian Right, distinguished by its contempt for democracy in this world in the hope of total victory over nonbelievers in the world to come. This book should scare every American who cherishes our secular Constitution and its separation of church and state." Susan Jacoby, author of Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism
"An important work of investigative journalism." Anna Godbersen
"[a] searing expose." -People Magazine
"the most complete picture of Scientology so far." -Garry Wills, New York Times Book Review
"compelling, rich and courageous...what comes through this prodigious reporting effort is a really good read about the birth of a strange and yet all-American institution...INSIDE SCIENTOLOGY is an impressive high-wire act producing a scrupulous history of how one man reframed the universe and how a lot of people paid for the privilege of agreeing with him." - Oregonian
"Inside Scientology is a masterful piece of reporting....a compelling introduction to "Americas most secretive religion," as the subtitle has it. Even for those who have no interest in parsing when cults become religions or why faith upends fact, Reitman tells a spellbinding story of a larger-than-life personality whose quirks, ticks and charisma shaped Americas newest homegrown religious movement." - Washington Post
"this book is fearless" - Wall Street Journal
"[a] meaty, engaging new book" -Slate.com
"In a new book, Inside Scientology: The Story of America's Most Secret Religion, author Janet Reitman tell the fascinating history of the mysterious organization and its members." - Time.com
"[a] meticulously researched history and revealing exposé, a frightening portrait of a religion that many find not just controversial, but dangerous…Throughout the book, the author displays consummate journalistic skills. Her accumulation of evidence is particularly impressive and gives rise to one of the more memorable works of investigative nonfiction in recent years."- Boston Globe
"a well-researched and compelling read" - Los Angeles Times
"[a] richly narrative history of the organization… The book is convincing and compelling. It will be interesting to see how the Scientology leadership responds." - St Louis Post Dispatch
leaves no scandal unturned in the life of L. Ron Hubbard
, underlings, celebrities and cult "slaves" in this story of America's most secretive religion....It is a riveting read not only for its thorough research, and winning style, but because [Reitman] has left no greed undescribed in the 396 page-turner." - Seattle Post Intelligencer
"So most journalistic accounts of Scientology fall into two categories: ax-grinding expose or fawning apologism. Fortunately Janet Reitman finds a third way in her authoritative, absorbing "Inside Scientology": nuanced reporting that lets the facts speak for themselves..."Inside Scientology" will remain a thoughtful, fair-minded record of its tumultuous first generation." - San Francisco Chronicle
"a serious, painstaking investigation of the organization's unique structure and bare-knucled business acumen." - GQ
"Reitman's book delivers all it promises, and it promises a lot… [Reitman] has put together the most masterfully written, narratively rewarding, and thorough yarn about L. Ron Hubbard, David Miscavige, and Scientology and its strange past, present, and possible future….In Inside Scientology
, we have a thorough, brave journalist backed by a major publisher, and soon what no doubt will be a major publicity push: Reitman's book should soon become Scientology's biggest headache in years." - Village Voice
"[a] meticulously compiled exposé, culled from hundreds of interviews with active Scientologists and defectors alike. [Reitman's] revelations — including abuse allegations against church leader David Miscavige and details about the organization's aggressive courtship of Tom Cruise — come with impressive backup." - Entertainment Weekly
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
Michelle Goldberg, a senior political reporter for Salon.com, has been covering the intersection of politics and ideology for years. Before the 2004 election, and during the ensuing months when many Americans were trying to understand how an administration marked by cronyism, disregard for the national budget, and poorly disguised self-interest had been reinstated, Goldberg traveled through the heartland of a country in the grips of a fevered religious radicalism: the America of our time.
In an age when faith rather than reason is heralded and the values of the Enlightenment are threatened by a mystical nationalism claiming divine sanction, Kingdom Coming brings us face to face with the irrational forces that are remaking much of America.
A senior political reporter for Salon.com who has been covering the intersection of politics and ideology for years discusses how the growing influence of dominionism the doctrine that Christians have the right to rule nonbelievers is threatening the foundations of democracy.
"A potent wakeup call to pluralists in the coming showdown with Christian nationalists."--, starred review
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
Michelle Goldberg is a contributing writer to Salon. Her work has appeared in Rolling Stone, the New York Observer, the Guardian [London], Newsday, and elsewhere. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.