Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Inside Scientology: The Story of America's Most Secretive Religion” as Want to Read:
Inside Scientology: The Story of America's Most Secretive Religion
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Inside Scientology: The Story of America's Most Secretive Religion

by
3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  5,698 ratings  ·  793 reviews
Scientology, created in 1954 by pulp sf writer L. Ron Hubbard, claims to be the world’s fastest growing religion, with millions of members & huge financial holdings. Celebrity believers keep its profile high. Teams of volunteer ministers offer aid at disaster sites like Haiti & the World Trade Center. But Scientology is also a very closed faith, harassing journalis ...more
Hardcover, 444 pages
Published July 5th 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Boston/NY) (first published 2011)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Inside Scientology, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Inside Scientology

Mormon Doctrine by Bruce R. McConkieInside Scientology by Janet ReitmanThe Book of Mormon by Joseph Smith Jr.The Necronomicon by SimonThe Satanic Bible by Anton Szandor LaVey
Books I Don't Believe In
2nd out of 8 books — 12 voters
Inside Scientology by Janet ReitmanGoing Clear by Lawrence WrightBeyond Belief by Jenna Miscavige HillA Piece of Blue Sky by Jon AtackBlown for Good by Marc Headley
Dianetics & Scientology
1st out of 27 books — 10 voters


More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Mary
When I was about halfway through this book I received a rather strange bright pink envelope in the mail. The return address was "The Church of Scientology" here in LaLa land. And, much like those sweepstakes things, it was promising enlightenment and answers beyond anything I'd ever imagined. Holy fuckballs, how did they know I was reading this book?! Are they watching me? Are they reading this right now? For shits and giggles I read through the pamphlet and found a 200 question test. And yes, I ...more
David
Aug 09, 2014 David rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Scientologists, Tom Cruise's girlfriends, Body Thetans
If you're like most people in the 21st century, this may be the image you have of Scientology:

 photo TomCruiseonOprah_zpsae0586c5.jpg

That was Tom Cruise jumping up and down on a couch, while promoting War of the Worlds in 2005 on Oprah. His manic performance while waxing ecstatic over his love for Katie Holmes (wife #3) turned him into a punchline, and this was in the middle of his renewed advocacy for Scientology, a "religion" that is probably most famous for attracting so many Hollywood celebrities, most notably Tom Cruise and John
...more
Marcus
Once I started reading I couldn't turn away. The story of Scientology has it all--good and evil, drugs and violence and a cast of characters and organizations that put any dystopian fiction to shame. If it wasn't so awful that real people get wrapped up in this, it'd make a great movie or tv series.

Scientology's "auditing" process is flat out scary. It makes such a strong appeal to the libido dominandi, the lust for power, that people seem willing to overlook all other aspects of the doctrines a
...more
Mike (the Paladin)
What can I say here??? I recommend you read this one.

There are situations in this book that I suspect many or most readers will look at and say, "why would he/she put up with this?". If you've never been in a cultic situation it will be totally incomprehensible. I was some years ago and I often (while reading the book) still have that reaction. Having "gotten away" I'd look at what people allowed to be done to them and worse their children and balk.

Then I made myself think back. If these are the
...more
Cristy Rey
This is an excellent book that truly does aspire to be as objective as possible when it comes to Scientology's history, founder, beliefs, and practices. The problem is that facts are facts. It's hard to report on corruption, cohersion, cunning, and lies with a positive tone. As a religious studies student throughout high school and in my undergraduate studies along with a life-long interest in American new religious movements (in particular, with Scientology), I knew a lot of the "facts" of Reit ...more
Joanna
OMG Scientology. How I like to tease you. I remember going to that Hollywood center of theirs to take that "personality test" where they find something wrong with you that only Scientology can fix. And then my friends and I ran out of there, screaming, before the test was done because man, it was freaky! Hahaha. And I took an e-meter test once, uh... also in Hollywood. They were out on the street for some reason and were uh... giving "free stress tests" to people. I was like, sweet! Paul took a ...more
Marvin
I am going to tell you something that nobody believes.

In the early 70s I was dating a girl who was into Scientology. (no, that's not it. Anyone who knows me know I've dated some really weird girls and the only normal one I've dated is the one I'm married to now). She was always giving me tracts about Scientology. I read them and wasn't too impressed. It seems like watered down Freudian psycho-babble to me. But I remembered that every single pamphlet said in bold letters "SCIENTOLOGY IS NOT A RE
...more
Jennifer Arnold
Growing up just a few miles from one of Scientology's major spiritual centers - Clearwater, Florida - I've always had a certain awareness of Scientology and its oddities. As a kid, I remember thinking of them as the strange people walking around downtown Clearwater in their naval-like uniforms. Later, Scientology was the reason we had a few minor celebrity sightings at the Barnes & Noble I worked at (Jenna Elfman, Greta Van Susteren) and one very strange book fair (after which I counted more ...more
Paul Rhodes
Jul 08, 2011 Paul Rhodes is currently reading it
I started reading this book last night. In the introduction Ms. Reitman writes that "Scientology" means the "study of truth". No, it does not. It means the study of knowledge. Hubbard's coinage was pathetically redundant for "epistemology" had existed in the English Language for centuries. You'd think that an author who spends years researching a "religion" would find the time to look up what the title of her subject actually means. Geez.

Oh, Ms. Reitman thinks the German weekly magazine Der Spi
...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
This is a challenging read owing to the scope and density of information, but it's a worthwhile pursuit if you want to see an in-depth example of how insanity is contagious. If you don't feel up to the task of reading the entire book, I recommend reading the first three chapters, especially if you're ever crazy enough to consider becoming a member of this so-called religion. The entire organization was created on a foundation of lies right from the start. L. Ron Hubbard was a paranoid egomaniac ...more
Christopher
Scientology is a very strange thing. It lies somewhere within the Bermuda triangle of Buddhism, clinical psychology, and the sort of pyramid schemes that clog up the sidebars of the less reputable websites you visit (one weird old trick to...).

First of all, is Scientology a religion at all? According to sociologist Émile Durkheim, religion is "a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, i.e., things set apart and forbidden--beliefs and practices which unite in one single
...more
Melody
I will confess that the only reason I picked this book up in the first place was because I wanted to learn if there was any truth to the story (which I love) that Heinlein and Hubbard sat down one night and bet each other that they could each make up a religion and have a huge number of bona fide believing converts in 5 years. Heinlein's Church of All Worlds didn't really take off like Hubbard's Scientology. Sadly, Reitman doesn't mention this story, though this will not prevent me from continui ...more
Mal Warwick
Set Up Your Own Religion, and Make a Billion Dollars

When L. Ron Hubbard died in 1986 at the age of 74, one of the world most confounding and controversial public figures passed from the scene — though not from memory.

Borrowing a 19th-century approach to mental therapy from psychiatrists Sigmund Freud, Josef Breuer, and others, as the basis for his own self-help method, Hubbard had become psychiatry’s most prominent critic for its dismissal of the therapeutic techniques he claimed could be admini
...more
Anna
What a long, strange trip it's been. This fascinating book takes us along for the ride, starting out with when a young Lafayette Ron Hubbard, a charismatic writer of pulp fiction who carefully analyzed the market so as to write in whatever genre was selling best, was running his earliest cons. Most notably Hubbard fell in with a Satan worshipping rocket scientist and, after enjoying his offbeat company for a while, ripped him off for thousands of dollars and used the money to buy boats. Money an ...more
Louise
Last year I was in NYC and passed by the Scientology building on 44th Street. You can't miss it. Its large white sign is used as a directional for anything on the block... Looking for the Paramount Hotel? "See the Scientology sign two blocks down... right next to it". On a rainy evening handsome young people hustled anyone who passed on the sidewalk (I saw no one stop). Large TV screens, also with beautiful people, tell you that you can fulfill your dreams. An open door shows the way to an invit ...more
Chad Post
I have a certain fascination with cults, including Scientology, so this book was right up my alley. It's basically a history of the growth and decline of Scientology, from a self-help book (Dianetics), to a "religion" with some mega-fucked space opera shit at its core, to a multi-million (billion?) dollar corporation. I mean "church."

What really struck me though is how Scientology's history pretty much incorporates ALL the lessons I learned in business school. Off the top of my head:

* DO ANYTHI
...more
Tony
Reitman, Janet. INSIDE SCIENTOLOGY: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion. (2011). ****.
The author is an investigative reporter, and this book is an expansion of an article she first wrote for Rolling Stone in 2007 – for which she received several awards. I first learned of the book through an interview of the author on NPR’s “All Things Considered.” The “religion” was founded by L. (Lafayette) Ron Hubbard, a man of varied background and pursuits, most notable that of a writer for the
...more
Alex
A well-written book on a subject I've always found darkly fascinating. Whether you think the author accomplishes her goal of writing an objective book will depend on (whether you're a Scientologist and) whether you believe objectivity and balance are the same thing. In my eyes she does a solid job of telling Scientology's story without overt judgement but also without finding artificial positives to pair with the frequently awful events she relates.

In the end the story reminded me of a descript
...more
Jared
If even 10% of Scientology's litigation record is true, Janet Reitman has guts for writing this book. As a religion, Scientology is far stranger and far scarier than I would have ever imagined. Certainly, the book takes a hardline and negative view on Scientology, and you have to remember that as you're reading the book--i.e., that you're not getting the "other side's" perspective.

After finishing the book I read Scientology's official rebuttal: an 11-page letter suggesting that Reitman's book do
...more
Shelley
This is a fascinating, well-written and meticulously researched book on Scientology, a religion that, before reading this, I knew absolutely nothing about. Somewhat reminiscent of Jon Krakauer's Under the Banner of Heaven, the author weaves together the history of the religion, the life of founder L. Ron Hubbard, and the mostly tragic stories of past and present Scientologists.

While this book presents many interesting things to ponder, I was most facinated by how Scientology gets away with call
...more
Chris
This is a great book for anyone interested in the inner workings and genesis story of the "Church" of Scientology. An organization this bizarre, clandestine, coercive, and successful demanded the in-depth, well-researched reportage that this author has served up. Although a good portion of the information revealed in the book will not be that new to anyone who as seen the infamous South Park episode hilariously lambasting Scientology's actual doctrine, the organization is even odder, and quite a ...more
Jon Wilson
At a certain point you just have to stop feeling sorry for the people who’s tales are recounted in this book. I mean, if the “leader” of your religion forces you to play Extreme Musical Chairs to escape excommunication, you really need to ask yourself if the guy truly has all the answers...

This book was, by turns, sad, scary, frustrating and ultimately disgusting. It reads very much like an expose as opposed to an examination--which I think I might have enjoyed more. The author’s tendency to sen
...more
Sally
First up, I've had a particular point of view regarding scientology for many years due to something that happened when I was a child. Because of that situation, I've read a lot about scientology and L Ron Hubbard and always concluded it was nothing but a money-making cult.

This book is not written by a former member of the 'Church' of Scientology. Reitman had no personal ax to grind so this is a refreshing look at the organization. She lets the facts and events speak for themselves. She uses a lo
...more
Greg
Before I read this I thought Scientology is one of the wackiest organizations I've ever heard of, and how could anyone take it seriously.

Now having read the story behind it, I'm thinking WTF? This is the Wackiest, Strangest and Dangerous weird-ass money-making machine pretending to be a religion I've ever heard of, and you'd have to be more than a little nuts to fall for it. You have to read some of this stuff to believe it - a "church" run by a psychopath based on a science-fiction writers conc
...more
Erik Graff
Dec 27, 2014 Erik Graff rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Scientology fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: religion
I've read some books about Scientology before, even gotten some inside dope on it from the daughter of one of L. Ron Hubbard's friends from the early days of Dianetics. It's all been negative, particularly the book by one of Hubbard's sons and a former leader of the 'church'. This survey is in line with the rest.

I find modern cults, their founders and their followers, to be fascinating. When the cult is just plain stupid (i.e. riven by internal contradictions and adrift from evidential support)
...more
charlie
I will not be reviewing this book since these people give me the creeps and are surely monitoring my every post. At least I have a better understanding of what it's all about after reading this. Er, not that I agreed with whats in the book... ooh - should i have written that in caps - then, i am sure They would believe me. Oh, no, thats not what i meant to say... this book is an entire fabrication and is not accurate one iota....

How'z that? Can I have my doll back?
Rin
I didn't finish this book, but I read enough. About halfway through (which is when Hubbard's death happened, and Miscavige took over), I realized I got what I need out of the story and I should go ahead and read another book on Scientology. Non-sequitur: My browser is making me capitalize this quack religion which is frustrating the heck out of me. As far as the book goes, it's not necessarily bad, but long-winded and tedious. The interviews and research seems thorough. I sure did come out of th ...more
Adam
The mind-bending saga of the creation and evolution of Scientology, quite simply, beggars belief. This book made me angry, sad, disturbed and angry again. I thought reading through the account of L. Ron Hubbard's life would be the pinnacle of the lunacy and absurdity, until, that is, I was introduced to the unconscionable narcissism and callowness of Miscavige. In any case, Reitman has done a sterling job in synthesising the convoluted and crazed beast that is Scientology into a readable and eng ...more
Heather in FL
So let me start this by stating that I'm not a super religious person. I was raised Episcopalian, though I don't really worship anymore. Having said that, my interest in this book is because I live just south of Clearwater, Florida, where there are a large group of Scientologists and what I will call a Scientology campus. This is where "FLAG" is and where Lisa McPherson died. While I was listening to this book, there was an article in the paper about how Scientology is trying to block the expans ...more
Huma Rashid
I hate including this in my 'religion' bookshelf, because Scientology is NOT a religion. L Ron Hubbard was clear that they were only calling themselves a religion for the tax benefits. And key religious/moral concerns, found in just about every world religion that ISN'T a crazy cult, seem noticeably absent from Scientology's doctrine, and especially from the life, behavior, and writings of its criminally insane and dangerous leader, David Miscavige. Unfortunately, he succeeded in blackmailing an ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Secrets and Wives: The Hidden World of Mormon Polygamy
  • Blown for Good: Behind the Iron Curtain of Scientology
  • Bare-Faced Messiah: The True Story Of L. Ron Hubbard
  • Prophet's Prey: My Seven-Year Investigation into Warren Jeffs and the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints
  • A Piece of Blue Sky: Scientology, Dianetics, and L. Ron Hubbard Exposed
  • A Thousand Lives: The Untold Story of Hope, Deception, and Survival at Jonestown
  • Seductive Poison: A Jonestown Survivor's Story of Life and Death in the People's Temple
  • Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief
  • Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement
  • I'm Perfect, You're Doomed: Tales from a Jehovah's Witness Upbringing
  • Jesus Freaks: A True Story of Murder and Madness on the Evangelical Edge
  • I Know Who You Are and I Saw What You Did: Social Networks and the Death of Privacy
  • The Mormon People: The Making of an American Faith
  • Cult Insanity: A Memoir of Polygamy, Prophets, and Blood Atonement
  • fathermothergod: My Journey Out of Christian Science
  • Rapture Ready!: Adventures in the Parallel Universe of Christian Pop Culture
  • The Faith Healers
  • Stories from Jonestown
4550200
Janet Reitman is a contributing editor at Rolling Stone, and the author of "Inside Scientology," (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, July 2011), which was based on her National Magazine Award-nominated story of the same name published in Rolling Stone in March, 2006. She is the first American journalist to publish a major book on Scientology, and the only writer to have charted its full history.

Reitman al
...more
More about Janet Reitman...
The Best American Magazine Writing 2007

Share This Book

“The real and, to me, inexcusable danger in Dianetics lies in its conception of the amoral, detached, 100 per cent efficient mechanical man—superbly free-floating, unemotional, and unrelated to anything. This is the authoritarian dream, a population of zombies, free to be manipulated by the great brains of the founder, the leader of the inner manipulative clique.” 3 likes
“It's very, very subtle stuff, changing words and giving them a whole different meaning—it creates an artificial reality," said Walter. "What happens is this new linguistic system undermines your ability to even monitor your own thoughts because nothing means what it used to mean. I couldn't believe that I could get taken over like that. I was the most independent-minded idiot that ever walked the planet. But that's what happened.” 2 likes
More quotes…