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Book review: ‘Inside Scientology’

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In 2006, Janet Reitman wrote an article about Scientology for Rolling Stone. Back then, everybody was writing about Tom Cruise and Scientology. The difference with Reitman was, she didn’t stop. She spent the next five years researching Scientology, and she just published a book of her findings, Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion.

The Details

Inside Scientology: The Story of America's Most Secretive Religion
Four stars
By Janet Reitman, $28

Of course, thanks to the Internet, Scientology isn’t as secretive as it once was. And we’ve all seen the South Park episode, so we know about the 95,000,000-year-old Galactic Confederation, and we know about its overpopulation problem, and we know how the evil tyrant Xenu sent his political opponents into volcanos in the prison planet of Teegeeack (aka Earth), and about how the alien souls attached themselves to humans.

But did you know that when Tom Cruise was first told about that stuff, he had an appropriate What the f*ck is this? reaction? And did you know that Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard once told his literary agent that the information in Dianetics would allow its readers to “rape women without their knowing it” and “communicate suicide messages to [their] enemies as they sleep”?

That’s what Reitman reports, at least. How’d she find it all out? “Early in my reporting,” Reitman writes, “in an unexpected moment of openness, the church granted me unprecedented access to its officials, schools, social programs and key religious headquarters.”

Reitman claims that her goal was to “write the first objective modern history of the Church of Scientology,” but I believe her real goal is to tear L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology a new one. That said, I really liked the book. Reitman’s done her homework and has written an important, engaging book.

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