Inside Scientology: The Story of America's Most Secretive Religion

Inside Scientology: The Story of America's Most Secretive Religion

3.8 55
by Janet Reitman
     
 

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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

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Overview

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.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Reitman (contributing editor, Rolling Stone) here expands her March 2006 cover story on the secretive Church of Scientology, known for courting Hollywood celebrities, suing and harassing opponents, and infiltrating government agencies. Based on meticulous research and interviews with current and former top-level and ordinary Scientologists, her book takes readers through the full history of the church. She begins with the boyhood of pulp science fiction author and founder of Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard (1911–86), and continues through Hubbard's development of the pop psychology Dianetics, the founding of the church in the early 1950s and its controversial battles with the government, David Miscavige's takeover of the church following Hubbard's death, and Miscavige's cultivation of actor Tom Cruise as the religion's most prominent advocate. VERDICT Reitman's attention to the personal accounts of participants brings the story to life and adds a dimension of drama (and length) not as prominent in Hugh Urban's more scholastic account, The Church of Scientology (reviewed below). Independently and together, these two books offer a much needed, engagingly told, nonpartisan portrait of Scientology over the last 60 years. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 1/17/11.]—Steve Young, McHenry Cty. Coll., Crystal Lake, IL
Diane Winston
…a masterful piece of reporting…Inside Scientology is a compelling introduction to "America's 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 America's newest homegrown religious movement.
—The Washington Post
Garry Wills
Reitman…who spent five years trying to pierce the walls Scientologists put up against outsiders, gives us the most complete picture of Scientology so far.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
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)
From the Publisher
"A detailed and readable examination of the life of L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of the church, and his successor, David Miscavige." —Publishers Weekly
Kirkus Reviews

Thoroughly engrossing page-turner on the shape-shifting Church of Scientology and its despotic, possibly criminal hierarchy.

Rolling Stonecontributing editor Reitman based this debut on an award-winning article she wrote for that magazine in 2006 amid a flurry of media interest in the normally press-averse organization as it launched an antic publicity campaign featuring the world's most famous Scientologist, Tom Cruise. For most of its 50-plus-year history, Scientology not only avoided attention; it viciously attacked anyone who dared come after it with every means, legal and otherwise, at its disposal. Some say it has even managed to get away with murder (or manslaughter), indentured servitude of minors, brainwashing and the stalking of apostates. So how did such a notoriously thin-skinned and anti-social belief system acquire any believers at all? Reitman delves into the pop-psychology, positive-thinking origins of the cult in the early '50s in the mind of science-fiction hack, truth-bender and would-be commodore of the planet L. Ron Hubbard. A complex, Ponzi-like structure of franchises and a catechism called the Bridge to Total Freedom requiring steep payment from pilgrims at every point along the way resulted in rapid financial growth. As the cult grew in size, its founder took to the sea, creating a society resembling a sci-fi dystopia, designed both to exalt himself and evade tax laws on the land. After Hubbard died an isolated and paranoid hermit, a young man named David Miscavige muscled his way to the top with the blunt aplomb of a Stalinist apparatchik, punctuating his ascendancy with consequent purges of perceived rivals. Reitman somehow manages to maintain an objective stance throughout the book. One of her sources is a charmingly (and surprisingly) independent-minded young second-generation Scientologist named Natalie, whom the author posits as representing an alternative, more recognizably human future of the church—if the top dogs don't first succeed in blowing it all to bits.

A bizarre and complicated history told with masterful control.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780547549231
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
07/05/2011
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
464
Sales rank:
107,124
File size:
1 MB

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From the Publisher
"A detailed and readable examination of the life of L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of the church, and his successor, David Miscavige." —-Publishers Weekly

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