Many people have heard of Scientology but their knowledge is usually limited to its many celebrity followers. Janet Reitman gives the first non-biased, scholarly examination of a movement that is surrounded by secrecy. Inside Scientology: The Story of America's Most Secretive Religion does touch on some of its more bizarre beliefs, but the majority of the content is an examination of how the organization came into being and its evolution to its current form. It is a well-researched expose of Scientology, while also highlighting the stories of both true believers and skeptics.
The book begins with the "father" of Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard and how this science fiction writer discovered something that would eventually become a movement with thousands of followers and generate millions of dollars annually. After Hubbard's death in 1986, the book follows the change in leadership to its current head, David Miscavige and the transformation he brought about to the movement. One of the most fascinating parts of the book is the examination of Miscavige's victory over the IRS with Scientology being given a tax exempt status after decades of legal battles. Spying, mysterious deaths, power struggles and daring escapes are some of what makes the book surprisingly engrossing. Reiman succeeds in pulling the curtain away from this global phenomenon that many people have an opinion about, but few know.
Anthony @ Atkinson