Publishers Weekly - Audio
Interviewing both present and past members, Reitman takes a compelling look at the Church of Scientology, examining the religion’s origins, claims, beliefs, scandals, and celebrity acolytes. Stephen Hoye proves a perfect pick as narrator. His tone and inflection communicate the book’s nuanced ideas, and he refrains from overdramatizing his delivery when Reitman raises questions about Scientology. Hoye also provides discrete voices for the many people—e.g., a teenage girl, an official church representative—that Reitman interviews. Hoye’s narration only falters during the book’s first-person introduction, and even then the fault is not with his delivery; the introduction clearly identifies the author as female and the gender disparity is jarring. If this proves off-putting to some listeners, it’s unfortunate, as this fascinating audiobook is definitely worth a listen. A Houghton Mifflin Harcourt hardcover. (July)
…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
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
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
Library Journal - Audio
Reitman expands on her 2006 National Magazine Award-nominated Rolling Stone article with this in-depth history and analysis of the Church of Scientology. Reitman succeeds in producing a thorough, objective, and modern history of the church that translates founder L. Ron Hubbard's arcane language and separates myth from fact. She interviewed hundreds of current and former members, church leaders, attorneys, law enforcement personnel, and journalists and also screened information from numerous website detectives investigating the church. The only key person not interviewed is David Miscavige, Scientology's current de facto leader. Reitman presents a complete picture that covers the church's peculiar ideology, its core practice of "auditing" members, its hefty financial contribution requirements for members to rise in the group's spiritual hierarchy, and its crafty way of sharing its secrets only with those who increase their giving. AudioFile Earphones Award winner Stephen Hoye's impressive, journalistic narration suitably conveys this vital work. ["Reitman's attention to the personal accounts of participants brings the story to life and adds a dimension of drama," read the review of the New York Times best-selling Houghton Harcourt hc, LJ 8/11.—Ed.].—Dale Farris, Groves, TX
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
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.