By Janet Reitman
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28.00, 448 pages
Inside Scientology is an exhaustively researched book which is no small feat considering how vigorously and litigiously Scientology hides behind its IRS tax-exempt status. A status that was gained only after the organization carpet-bombed the IRS with lawsuits from Scientology members of all levels. Buried under the massive weight of this paperwork the agency finally agreed to recognize the organization as a religious entity in the U.S. if they would drop every lawsuit. Which is how an operation whose sole focus since its inception has been to make money can now keep every penny its members pay for the plethora of services they are required to purchase.
Using confidential documents, hundreds of interviews and five years of research author Janet Reitman throws wide the door on this organization. This book is eye opening and compelling reading for anyone unfamiliar with Scientology. From a careful reconstruction of founder L. Ron Hubbard’s life to the recent PR nightmare of the anti-psychiatry histrionics of Tom Cruise she covers it all with a journalist’s careful perspective. The details may seem stranger than the science fiction Hubbard wrote throughout his life but her presentation is not salacious or sensationalist. It is the material that will leave the reader chilled.