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)
I really don't see how a follow-up book could make the 1st book better. This story started great, shocking information on Scientology's founder, but fell flat mid way.I never did finish it. Sorry... but the 2nd half couldn't keep my attention.
I'm trying to wean myself and learn to function without earbuds for more than ten minutes at a time. It hasn't been easy. I lose balance...
Really. Nothing not already beaten to death everywhere. Just reformatted old news. Which I suppose just goes to show you what you get when a topic is popular on the web.
COMPREHENSIVE IMPORTANT GRIPPING
The portions of interviews with children who grew up in scientology in the midst of a world where technology has exploded.
The narrator has never, in my experience, been very good at portraying different voices, particularly female ones. His narrative portions are quite good, but his depiction of female subjects are no different from the narrative flow itself. I must also insert here that having a male narrator read a book written by Reitman, a female reporter, is an odd choice. At times, Reitman will insert herself in the story, and it's a bit of a shock having the narrator insert "personal" insights.
Many other reviewers have done better than I at describing this book, but I will add my voice to them. This book is intricate in its describing the many aspects of scienntology, from the beginnings of the religion to the personal stories of current and former scientologists. It is well-balanced and fair, though Reitman is quietly critical of scientology. There are spots that drag, particularly regarding scientology's battle with the IRS and obtaining tax-exempt statuus: and there are many interview subjects and language that gets confusing. Beyond that, this book is intense and should be of interest to anyone thinking of joining scientology or having a fascination with religions.
I enjoyed the book and education behind the "religion"
yes but I expected a female narrator because the book was written by a female
This book was insightful into the origins of not the creator of Scientology as well as how the organization currently operates. Some of the stories I expected but others were pretty disturbing, especially given the protection given to them by their status as a recognized religion in the US. What I found very interesting is the attempts by Scientology to remain mysterious and have secret information only given to members that reach a high level within the organization. With all the technology and access to information provided by the Internet, it is hard to keep much of anything hidden when people are allowed to come and go from a group, even though this group tends to keep tabs on high members that leave. I think this book as a whole shows an example of how an idea can spark faith and a religion.
If you are like most people who are iterested in knowing more about this organization, but are afraid to Google it because you think the members will arrive at your door like a visitor from outer space this book provides a good overview. It was actually during a visit to Clearwater that my curiousity was aroused, this was pre Tom Cruise mania. I felt that the author did an excellent job dealing with the more personal aspects of belonging to this group. I felt that there was one fatal flaw...why was the narrator a man??? The book was obviously written by a women and every time the narrator said "I" it was very disconcerting. While the narration was excellent it really didn't make any sense, to me, not to have it read by one of your female narrators!
An amazing story about an amazing man and his organization. Yet another example of home brew religion coming out of the American experiment. Yet this one has tapped into something powerful that lies within all humans. L. Ron Hubbard discovered a weakness that is within all of us and was able to exploit it with frightening consequences.
My only negative would be a confusing storyline. I found myself lost in terms of the development of the "plot"
Very good book. Very informative. However, a little too much detail caused me to get distracted.
This was an interesting book for me. I had only heard snippets of Scientology, but didn't really know what it was about. The book begins with the background of L. Ron Hubbard, and then talks about how he became the founder of Scientology. The science fiction connection was interesting and something I had not been aware of before. The fact that he based his ideas on successful franchises was another interesting tidbit that I had not known. The book also talks about some of the members, those who stayed and those who left. The portion of the book about celebrities was extremely interesting to me. There were parts that were slow moving, but overall, I enjoyed it. I saw where the male narrator bothered some reviewers because it was written by a female, but I thought the narrator was excellent. That did not detract from the narration from me at all.
This is the first time I have bothered to write a review...so bear with me. This topic is fascinating and left me feeling nauseous, frightened and completely amazed by what people will buy into! Everyone should read this book if they are at all interested in looking into how small interest groups with big money can influence the judicial system, local, federal and international governments. I disagree with other reviewers that the subject matter is dull - not at all - it is fascinating (granted I also like to listen to NPR) it is the narrator that is doing this book a HUGE disservice. HE IS BORING. Also - why is it read by a man when it was written by a woman and she occasionally writes in the first person? just wondering. If you don't mind slogging through the boring narration I say give it a go - otherwise read the book - BUT avoid looking up photos of those involved in wrongful death lawsuit on internet - some of them are very macabre.
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