I do apologize for coming late to this. I wanted to read this book when it first came out but I was in the middle of a couple of very large projects. Now that they are successfully completed, I’ve finally had time to read this wonderful book.
If anyone has not yet read this book and, if they have any interest at all in Scientology and the Church of Scientology, I highly recommend it.
In her Introduction, Ms. Reitman says:
It has been my goal to write the first objective modern history of the Church of Scientology.
To say that Ms. Reitman succeeded would be an understatement. I, personally, could not have done that — as an ex-Scientologist, I am definitely not objective about Scientology. Most people who have been touched in any way by Scientology cannot be objective about it. Scientology is a completely black and white belief system — there is no grey. You are either completely pro-Scientology or you are an Enemy. Those who become opposed to the Church of Scientology often, in reaction to Scientology’s absolutism, take an opposite, and just as absolute, negative position. It’s hard not to.
Yet, without a doubt, Ms. Reitman has produced an objective book. Since I know she too was attacked by the Church of Scientology for her earlier piece in The Rolling Stone, my admiration for her journalistic integrity is boundless.
But don’t let the term “objective” mislead you. This is not a dry dissertation, it is not boring and it doesn’t indulge in that false “journalistically neutral” rhetoric. You will get the facts surrounding the real events — untouched by the Church of Scientology’s spin, cover-up and lies.
Scientology is, ultimately, about people and Ms. Reitman brings the story of Scientology alive by bringing alive the people who have been involved in Scientology — from L. Ron Hubbard, struggling to find his path to fame, to those who have struggled in and out of the church, to the latest wide-eyed, ever-hopeful new Scientologist. This is a book about how people were changed by Scientology — and how Scientology has been changed by people.
I found it a bit disturbing to read this long history of Scientology from L. Ron Hubbard’s troubled life, through the heady early days of hope and excitement and finally to the logical conclusion of Hubbard’s paranoia and greed. It was disturbing because it was true. It stirred up memories of my own hopes — and my own disappointments.
In case you might want to question how very thoroughly and diligently Ms. Reitman has researched and fact-checked the stories in this book, her extensive Notes section detailing the exact sources for each chapter is beyond impressive. This section alone makes the Church of Scientology’s cries of “sloppy journalism” completely laughable.
All-in-all, this book was a great read, enlightening, fascinating, informative and with the ring of truth in every page. This book is now at the top of my list for anyone interested in Scientology and I would highly recommend this book for anyone currently in or recently out of Scientology.