Interview: On Inside Scientology
The Madeleine Brand Show
July 5, 2011

[audio:|titles=Interview with Madeleine Brand]


For more than half a century, the Church of Scientology has been America’s most controversial religious movement; known for its appeal to celebrities like Tom Cruise, its requirement that believers pay as much as hundreds of thousands of dollars for salvation, and its storied history of harassing journalists and others through litigation and intimidation, even infiltrating the highest levels of the government to further its goals. It has been called a “cult” and even a “mafia” by its critics; to Scientologists it’s “the fastest growing religion in the world.” But what is Scientology? And what accounts for its remarkable staying power?

Inside Scientology is the unprecedented journalistic history of the Church of Scientology; one of the world’s most mysterious and least understood new religions, claiming millions of followers globally. With riveting detail, Janet Reitman, a contributing editor for Rolling Stone, chronicles the Church’s five-decade evolution: from its rise under the quixotic science fiction writer-turned guru L. Ron Hubbard, who founded Scientology in 1954; to its expansion under his successor, David Miscavige, an ambitious young acolyte who helped establish Scientology’s religious bona fides. Taking readers deep inside Scientology’s world, Reitman explores Scientology’s appeal across numerous generations, as it attached itself to pop psychology, New Age spiritualism, the recovery movement, and even modern business consulting. At the same time, Inside Scientology examines the climate of intense, crippling, and largely uncensored control at the heart of the organization, costing members their families, their life savings, their freedom, and in one unforgettable account, their lives.

Based on five years of research, access to confidential documents and hundreds of interviews with current and former Church members and executives, Inside Scientology is a gripping account of how a fringe movement of self-help enthusiasts became a commercially-driven spiritual enterprise, and an examination of the aspirations, avarice, and extremism that lies at the heart of one of America’s most infamous homegrown faiths. It is an utterly compelling work of nonfiction, and the defining work on an elusive community.


Inside Scientology is a masterful piece of reporting…a compelling introduction to ‘America’s most secretive religion,’ as the subtitle has it. Even for those who have no interest in parsing when cults become religions or why faith upends fact, Reitman tells a spellbinding story of a larger-than-life personality whose quirks, ticks and charisma shaped America’s newest homegrown religious movement.”
– The Washington Post
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“The most complete picture of Scientology so far”
Garry Wills– The New York Times Book Review
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– Wall Street Journal
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“[a] meticulously researched history and revealing exposé, a frightening portrait of a religion that many find not just controversial, but dangerous…Throughout the book, the author displays consummate journalistic skills. Her accumulation of evidence is particularly impressive and gives rise to one of the more memorable works of investigative nonfiction in recent years.”
-The Boston Globe
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“a well-researched and compelling read”
-Los Angeles Times
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“INSIDE SCIENTOLOGY is notable for its depth and sweep. Reitman’s research pays off not only in rich portrayals of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard and current leader David Miscavige, but in intimate portraits of people who have been swept up along the way….Reitman’s analysis of Scientology’s ability to survive scandal and mockery is compelling and persuasive.””
– Seattle Times
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“[a] meticulously compiled exposé, culled from hundreds of interviews with active Scientologists and defectors alike. [Reitman’s] revelations — including abuse allegations against church leader David Miscavige and details about the organization’s aggressive courtship of Tom Cruise — come with impressive backup.”
– Entertainment Weekly
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“In a new book, Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secret Religion, author Janet Reitman tell the fascinating history of the mysterious organization and its members.”
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Inside Scientology is an engrossing, groundbreaking work that brings a welcome sense of fair-mindedness to a subject that is, for many journalists and scholars, too hot to touch. Reitman has accomplished the miracle of adding light without heat.”
–Lawrence Wright, author of The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11

Inside Scientology goes beyond the celebrities and the scandals — though they’re here in all their absurdity and horror — to find in Scientology a more profound story about “technology” as an article of faith and faith as a vessel for science, or, at least, science fiction. With precision and empathy, Janet Reitman has in this definitive investigation laid bare the genesis and possibly the endgame of America’s strangest religion.”
–Jeff Sharlet, author of The Family and C Street

“Thoroughly engrossing page-turner on the shape-shifting Church of Scientology and its despotic, possibly criminal hierarchy… A bizarre and complicated history told with masterful control.”

“a serious, painstaking investigation of the organization’s unique structure and bare-knuckled business acumen.”

Inside Scientology promises a lot, and delivers —  the most masterfully written, narratively rewarding, and thorough yarn about L. Ron Hubbard, David Miscavige, and Scientology and its strange past, present, and possible future.”
Village Voice

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