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, Stephen Hoye
     
 

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Scientology, created in 1954 by a prolific sci-fi writer named L. Ron Hubbard, claims to be the world's 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.

Overview

Scientology, created in 1954 by a prolific sci-fi writer named L. Ron Hubbard, claims to be the world's 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 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 even-handed account that at last establishes the astonishing truth about the controversial religion. She traces Scientology's 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.

Editorial Reviews

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)
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
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
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
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.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781452603254
Publisher:
Tantor Media, Inc.
Publication date:
07/31/2011
Edition description:
Unabridged CD
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 6.50(h) x 1.10(d)

What People are saying about this

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

Meet 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."

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Inside Scientology: The Story of America's Most Secretive Religion 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 55 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"inside scientology" is a very hard to put down book. the writer has done an amazing job researching this questianable organization for over many years interviewing many former members of the church of scientology and how this group has a control over its members and how they use certain abusive tactics to pursue individuels and media out lets who questian their motives and practices and money. great gift for a friend or family member.
Gore More than 1 year ago
This is a well researched, objective stidy of an organization that can only be compared to something like Stalin's Soviet Union, or Hitler's Nazi party. It is both a totalitarian organization and a criminal enterprise, with institutionalized purges, thought police, intimidation, and spying (and reporting on ) one's family, friends, and neighbors.
L.A.Carlson-writer More than 1 year ago
We always hear so much about Scientology and the famous who are associated with it but Reitman goes much further and starts at the beginning with L. Ron Hubbard. How after his death this franchised faith became stronger. There is obvious controversy, cover-up and most of this organization thrives,succeeds on power and especially MONEY. The more you pay the higher your understanding of the "study of truth" becomes. With millions of members in 165 different countries, numerous real estate holdings and the statement that 50-60,000 people pay for some type of information on Scientology every year is jaw-dropping. Reitman provides notes, bibliography and index. She's a graduate of UCal-Santa Cruz and has a master's degree in journalism from Columbia.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A very well-written and thoroughly researched book that pulls back the curtain on the snake oil salesman's wagon. What I found most interesting is that the largest threat to Scientology is not the naysayers and critics of the "religion" (as they woyld like you to believe), but those who are involved in (and promote it) most passionately. Always ready to strike with litigation and harassment and cry "bully" (or whatever choice buzz word they opt for), you'd think they would focus more on not shooting themselves in the foot. Which, of course, is the fault of the media. Until next time when they've come out with a new, updated Scientology 4.0, the biggest curiosity to me is that people continue to pay to be duped. Fascinating.
NYMetsNo1 More than 1 year ago
It's amazing. One man, that anyone that took psychology 101 could describe as having extreme bipolar disorder with a predaliction of compulsive lying, could rise to such wealth and power. Hey, did you know the word "Gullable" is written on the ceiling?? Really!! Look up, it's there.
ALNY More than 1 year ago
Almost impossible to stop reading! The writing and facts are astounding! Very entertaining - but frightening at the same time! Unbelievable how facts were kept hidden from the people of this world - until now! MUST READ!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Because it's not true. It is insane. It is a "religion" created be a sci fi writer. Isn't that enough to tip you off? It is also dangerous. THINK! If you still can.
ireadtoomuch2 More than 1 year ago
There are plenty of books out there that discredit the existence of Christ. No one is "telling" you that your religion is or isnt right, freedom of speech people! This is a wonderfully researched and well written book that provides some insight as to how Scientology came to light. I enjoyed this book just as much as i enjoyed books explaining The Big Bang theory
Howee More than 1 year ago
Captivating
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Exhausting and long, but clear and well chronicled story of a terrifying organization.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Gotta love it when the scientologists like that crazy one below posting in all caps try to defend their cult. Oh silly clams when will they learn? ;)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An excellent account of the rise of scientology, the life of Hubbard, the many controversies of the church, and as fun and interesting to read as a popular fiction novel.
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