Janet Reitman's Inside Scientology seeks to provide the first unbiased and holistic overview of the divisive faith that is Scientology. Reitman focuses on five key elements of the Scientology story: a history of the religion's rise, as well as the rise of its creator, L. Ron Hubbard; a detailed account of the vicious internal coup by current leader, David Miscavige; the sad and shocking story of the death of Scientologist Lisa McPherson; an outline of the controversial "celebrity strategy"; and multiple narratives detailing the current mass exodus from a corrupt and abusive church.
Narrator Stephen Hoye does an excellent job with the book, which presents many unique challenges. He successfully tackles a wide range of subject matter from Hubbard's sterile, futurist terminology to some of the more personal, emotionally gripping stories. Hoye serves as a calm voice of reason, guiding us through a potentially confusing world of Orgs, Tech, and more acroynms than a high-level business meeting.
The picture that emerges is a multifaceted one. Outsiders with cursory knowledge of the faith generally associate it with a crackpot Sci-Fi writer looking to make a buck, brainwashing techniques, salacious scandals, never-ending lawsuits, and a creation myth featuring aliens, volcanoes, and movie theaters. While Reitman doesn't exactly dispel these notions completely, she does provide rich historical background and a true look inside this mysterious faith. The truth about the religion, after all, is much more complex than what's presented on the surface.
The promises of Scientology range from the enriching (freedom from mental and emotion anguish) to the humanitarian (providing aid to developing countries and ways out of drug addiction) to the transcendent (immortal life, free of an earthy body). While people are drawn to the faith for all kinds of reasons, Reitman shows us that most Scientologists are just normal people trying to do good in the world and better themselves. Unfortunately, some of these people have been swept up in a devastating new movement within the upper ranks of the church, which has become increasingly obsessed with greed, domination, and power.
Perhaps the most artful facet of this book is that, in true journalistic style, Reitman does her best to simply present the facts and leave the conclusions to the listener. After all, like Hubbard used to say, "What's true is what is true for you." Gina Pensiero
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.
©2011 Janet Reitman (P)2011 Tantor
"A detailed and readable examination of the life of L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of the church, and his successor, David Miscavige." (Publishers Weekly)
...to an extremely complex subject. Reitman has done her homework and has come out with a fair-minded yet damning excoriation of one of the world's strangest phenomena.
This is a lucid and readable (listenable?) account of Scientology that is, fascinatingly, heavy on facts. Her discussion of the Lisa McPherson case is useful both for its examination of a shocking incident and for what we can infer from it about Scientology and its relationship to its adherents - and to truth.
This is an "in between read", I just happened to remember stashing away, and pulled it up when the earth-shattering news hit that a very famous couple was breaking up. How timely, and wickedly fortuitous for me.
Any "religion" is vulnerable presented to the world by an author, but Reitman stays respectably and incredibly unbiased, even though presenting some stories and facts that point to some pretty logical conclusions, that more than just slant a little toward the negative side. After reading this book, I am struggling to write an objective review - trying to settle myself with the opposing ideas of respect for all people's belief-systems, and Scientology, whose founder once made the guileful remark, "If you want to get rich,you start a religion". It is a conundrum, matched only by my curiosusity and confusion regarding the secretive Scientologists.
The Publisher's Summary and the Audible Editor Reviews cover the content of this book thoroughly, and I'd suggest reading some of these great customer reviews: Matt/Hood River, Roger/American Fork, Brad/ Tuscaloosa, Baker/ Casselberry. Inside Scientology is presented in a professional journalistic manner. Sometimes the load of information can become a little weighty and routine, more than a person who is just curious may want--especially for 15-plus hours. Reitman is a contributing editor for The Rolling Stone, and I found some of her interviews, as well as some of the articles about Scientology, in The Rolling Stone to be more candid and personable. I enjoy reading about philosophies, religions, theologies, and was therefore occasionally fascinated--particularly with the etiology of the religion and Hubbard's connection to occultist Aleister Crowley (via Jack Parsons). Overall, I came away with a little knowledge and a lot less understanding. Very noteworthy piece of research and journalism, well written and understandable, and fitting narration. Still, I'd only recommend for those that want to know everything available about Scientology, including the minutiae.
Reitman has given us a masterfully researched and compellingly written book. I found it riveting and impossible to stop listening. Very well read as well.
"Inside Scientology" is a solid, well-balanced and thoroughly researched investigative report on Scientology. In addition to covering the history and background of the organization and the man who created it, it delves into the lives of people who were (and in some cases, still are) victims of this organization's manipulative tactics.
Parents of susceptible teens would be wise to get this book for their children. In fact, society as a whole would benefit from using this book in schools to caution children/teens of the predatory nature and techniques of cults.
In general, this book is an extremely interesting listen and I highly recommend it. It was reminiscent of Barbara Demick's "Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea", which I also recommend.
Tell us about yourself! I love to escape into a good book.
I found this book fascinating and well researched.
Delving deep into the inception of Scientology and the background of its founder L Ron Hubbard. A religion that claims to have the answer for humanity, and then charges you for that information, RED FLAG, that tells me straight away it is not a compassionate religion, and it does not care to save you unless you have deep pockets.
Lets just say if you are a rich Scientologist you will have a better experience than the average Scientologist who has to sign a billion year work contract to access the course materials.
Costs can vary considerably depending upon the needs of the individual, but a rough estimate suggests you’ll be paying $128,000 to reach Clear, another $33,000 to reach OT III, and an additional $100,000 to $130,000 to reach OT VIII, which is the highest level currently available. A money making machine that preys on the feeble minded and whose practices are questionable.
I rate as follows: 5 Stars = Loved it. 4 Stars = Really liked it. 3 Stars = Liked it. 2 Stars = Didn't like it. 1 Star = Hated it.
It continues to amaze me how my reading habits seem to line up with the other reviewers that I follow; with that in mind, let me say that Melinda just wrote an excellent review on this book yesterday; so I'm just going to add my additional two cents.
I want to stress that as a religious person myself, I know there is a HUGE difference between what an individual person interprets their religious views to be and the actions of some people running the "church institution". Religion is the set of beliefs in an individual's heart and mind that guides them to be the best person they can be. Churches are fallible, man made organizations that are susceptible to corruption. When I reference Scientology here, I'm referring to the fallible man-made organization, not any individual that uses that word to describe the set of beliefs they use to to guide them in trying to be kind and useful.
As referenced in other reviews, this can be DRY reading. I especially had trouble getting through the first two or so hours; I thought I wasn't going to make it. Then it picked up a little and became more interesting, while still admittedly dry. I hovered between giving the narration a 2 or a 3, but decided that My Hoye did the best he could have with the material he was working with.
I found it fascinating that Scientology was never meant to be a religion; that it was always a money making scheme, and they decided to categorize it as a church to avoid the regulatory issues they were having with the fact that their "councilors" had no legitimate accreditation, and also to avoid paying taxes. Saying they were a religion helped with both these issues. Being from Phoenix, I also found it fascinating to find out that L Ron Hubbard spent a little time living here while setting up the church, which I'd never known.
If you're picking up the book because of certain current events going on in the news, particularly a certain divorce in the headlines, I'll admit this book gives you a lot of information regarding some of the specific concerns or accusations that are flying out there. In particular, the book spends a good deal of time going over the inception and first few years of "Sea Org", which is the ship based program that (if you believe the stories) is one of the main concerns in the current divorce; the fact that the mother is concerned that her daughter was soon to be sent to this program.
The other big take away I had from the book is how little L Ron Hubbard had to do with what the church is currently; how out of touch with it he was in his last years of life, with other power players taking the helm.
Do you want to read this? I don't know. It's dry, it's very detailed, but I'm glad I did; I found the information was good and it gave me a lot that I didn't know before. It's certainly not a light beach read, but if you're really interested in learning more about how this organization morphed into what it is, it certainly gives you that.
I am a co-author of The Cluetrain Manifesto, and author of Gonzo Marketing: Winning Through Worst Practices, and The Bombast Transcripts.
This is an excellent unpacking of one of America's foremost cultural train wrecks. I hope it's true that the power and reach of this twisted organization are on the wane, but I'm not holding my breath. I knew about some of the material in this book, but a lot less than I thought I did. The chapters on the murder of Lisa McPherson are especially gripping - and tragic. btw, the narrator also read The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy, which leant this an extra measure of creepiness for me.
An old broad that enjoys books of all types. Would rather read than write reviews though. I know what I like, and won't be bothered by crap.
Most of this information was new to me. I have heard of Scientology and even experienced some of their tactics to get me to join in the 70's, but I knew little of the beginnings and dirty dealings of this so called religion. This book was an eye opener to me. I was engrossed in this book for a lot of the time.
When the book gets into the death of Lisa McPherson, it's like an Ann Rule true crime book. I listened straight through that section, dreading what was going to happen to her. I won't forget that for along time.
Mr. Hoye was adequate. Not great.
When the woman whose husband had left Scientology finally is able to escape from the church by jumping over the wall and finding her husband waiting on the other side I almost cried. I can't remember all of their names but that whole section was a tear jerker.
I enjoyed this book and learned a lot about the beliefs and tactics of Scientology. It's hard for me to believe they get away with this kind of stuff. To me it's not a religion but a self help group out to make money and not pay taxes.
Haven't read the print version -- the audio version kept me listening long after I should have turned it off and started doing something else!
There was no favorite character -- the people described in story range from kind of pathetic to downright scary. I've heard many negative things over the years about Scientology, this just confirmed what I've heard in the past. I finished the book wondering how anyone could be pulled into such a money-centric "church".
Haven't listened to any of his other books. He did a great job reading this one.
I didn't laugh or cry, I just kept asking myself, "how could anyone get pulled into this organization, and not see Scientology for what it is -- a huge money making operation????
I used this as my "commuting" book, and I'm sure I looked a fool, driving down the highway with my jaw hanging open the whole time. The book is a fascinating glimpse into this movement--fascinating and disturbing--and seems to be unbiased in its research. The narration was also well-done, in my opinion, and I felt the writing was pretty good. The only thing I wished for was an index of the innumerable acronyms, but I realized finally that I didn't really need to keep them straight in order to follow the story--and that was an interesting fact, in an of itself. I highly recommend this book.
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