Bare-faced messiah: The true story of L. Ron Hubbard
by Russell Miller
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From Library Journal
Miller presents the life story of L. Ron Hubbard, from his early days as a pulp science fiction writer, through his years as the head of the Church of Scientology, to his death in 1986. Miller, who was actively opposed by Scientologists, contrasts the official church biographies with his own well-documented accounts of Hubbard's incredible life. Hubbard invented the Dianetics and Scientology movements and acquired millions through them; as their autocratic leader, he was obeyed unquestioningly. Miller makes no bones about considering Hubbard a fraud, but his book betrays a reluctant admiration for the man he sees as "one of the most successful and colourful confidence tricksters of the 20th century." A well-researched investigation that makes fascinating reading.
A credible portrait of a destructive cartoon character, June 11, 2000
Reviewer: Nigel Parry
It gives you chills to consider that present Scientologists might believe even one-tenth of the lunacy of the L. Ron Hubbard that this book reveals as a paranoid, authoritarian, self-aggrandising, destructive, and pathalogical ( ).
Hubbard was clearly a severly disturbed individual, and his motivation for founding Scientology was also clearly a direct result of his delusions and desire for attention, and, later, for cash.
Scientology itself is revealled as a mixture of pop psychology, new age healing techniques, and belief in our heritage as space aliens - all three spiced-up by the illicit thrill that only secret knowledge (priced in US$ of course) can bring.
In other words, welcome to 20th Century free market Gnosticism, with a bit of everything tossed in, for good measure, by a deranged cook that seems to have no taste buds at all.
Even assuming (following the death of Hubbard) there has been a corporate sanitising of the whackier aspects of his philosophy (and trust me here, the book is overflowing with examples of these), the fact that anyone would choose such an obviously broken foundation stone to build anything on, is enough cause for the alarm bells to start ringing.
The book is exhaustively researched and is a completely mind-blowing read, as the reader gets to walk a path from a creative childhood in which we learn about Hubbard's natural talent for story-telling that later developed into his relatively successful science-fiction career, to a progressively-stunted adulthood where lies becomes the main creative media he works with.
It would be good to see a follow up that deals less with Hubbard and more with how the Scientologists absorbed his legacy into their current practice (quite well, it would seem, from the myriad of media reports of destructive cultic behaviour).
Now that would take some explaining.
But this is outside the scope of this biography.
The book has a ring of authenticity thanks to the well-established credentials of the journalist who wrote it, and thus stands as a credible portrait of a destructive cartoon character that - unfortunately - more than a few people saw as their messiah.
Attack of the Clones..., May 23, 2005
Reviewer: Steven Cain (Temporal Quantum Pocket)
Well that's how the die-hard, cyborg-like Sea Org people tend to come across, in my experience.
If I had thought this book was nothing more than an ill-informed cheap shot at Hubbard, I would not have read it, but it is not. My greatest problems with Scientology were never about the Technology, but with the over-zealousness (to put it very politely) of the Sea Org staff above all, and the absolutely unforgivable price of Services.
If you ever complained about the totally unrealistic cost of Services - relative to average earnings, for example, you were met with facile, brainwashed responses about 'what is Freedom worth?' and 'No Clear thinks it's expensive...' all of which totally ignore the fact that the organization is 99% money driven, whether it started that way or not; and that most of The Bridge (the structured path to spiritual freedom) is way beyond the price range of the average individual - unless they become Staff members, of course...
While Hubbard is seen to be a questionable character in terms of false claims about a number of issues, including aspects of his military service, as Miller reveals, he may well have developed some important technology at the heart of the Beast that Scientology eventually became.
It does not have some of the more immediately threatening aspects of a Cult that many true Cults possess, but it is hard to see it as anything else when you add up the lists of experiences that Miller and others have recorded and analyzed.
Don't be fooled by reviewers who hide behind 'attacks on their religion'. If Scientology operated more like a real religion (which it could do), it would not charge so much for its Services. It's pricing structure is simply a control weapon and nothing more.
Read the book and make up your own mind.
Great reading for the Summer of Scientology, July 19, 2005
Reviewer: Chancey (Brooklyn, NY)
No, that's not an official title. But Summer '05 has definitely been the Summer of Scientology in the media, and I realized that to participate in the debate, I needed to know more about the Church and its founder. And while the author of this book (a former Fleet Street journalist) is clearly no friend of L Ron, it's hard to blame him in light of the simple facts surrounding the church, its history, and its founder. I don't think anyone, celebrities included, could put a positive spin on Operation Snow White, Scientology's attempt to steal and destroy government documents related to the church, performed via "covert operatives" over a period of ten years or more. Yes, they were busted. And why don't people talk about this when talking about the Church? Not sure. They also don't talk about L Ron's abandonment of his first two wives, and his eagerness to let the third take the fall for Snow White when it all shook out. It makes you wonder about the geniuses in the marketing department over in Clearwater.
But the book isn't as much about the Church as it is about the man who founded it - a fascinating guy, by any account, even his own. As the book says, L Ron didn't need to embellish and manipulate his life's story nearly as much as he did, since the facts of his upbringing, education, and career are pretty amazing in and of themselves. Friends of psychology and psychiatry will recognize a narcissist when they see one, although a very entertaining one.
Overall, this was a great read - I had expected it to be a bit more damning and vindictive, based on other reviews (and the crazy paperback cover, which looks like a soft core/science fiction novel). But after reading it, I was very impressed with the author's restraint.
A C h i l l i n g Story, July 18, 2005
Reviewer: pamela kelso
Anyone contemplating joining Scientology should read this before they jump in.
Many, many parts of this book were personally bone chilling to me. The destruction that they feel free to heap upon people who leave their org is mind boggling. I was never involved with them but I have known others who were not so lucky.
As a note the release from "memories" (I forget what the actual term is) can be achieved in many ways. Insight meditation - (Goenka), CST therapy (Dr. Upledger), Myofacial Release (John Barnes). None of these therapies require membership in an organization.
So, who's surprised???, June 14, 2005
Reviewer: Martin D. Turner "Marty"
Scientology is about POWER and NOT about spirituality. The reason why Tom Cruise, John Travolta and their ilk tout it is because they're (bored) rich folks who need to have some sort of "tiller" in life and Scientology delivers that (note that many of the power players in Hollywood and Capitol Hill belong to this "religion"; if you're not a Scientologist, then you don't "play" with the big boys (or make the really big money) ...).
Read Jon Atack's "Piece of Blue Sky"; nothing like hearing about a religion from one who used to practice it.
And yes, I agree with other sentiments expressed here: it's scary to think that well-educated (mostly) intelligent people believe the chronic lies of Hubbard.
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