In 2012 it seemed like every time one turned around the Church of Scientology was in the news. Whether it was the Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise’s divorce or an unflattering expose in Vanity Fair magazine, over the last six months the Church of Scientology was the subject of much water cooler discussion and countless tabloid features. But while I give a rat’s you-know-what about most celebrity news, I am interested in what goes on in the world of religion. Therefore, when I happened to find a copy of Janet Reitman’s Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secret Religion at my local public library one weekend I grabbed it with little hesitation. After burning through it in no time I’m glad I did. It’s a superb book.
Published in July 2011, Reitman’s book received wide-spread acclaim. Garry Wills writing for the New York Times Book Review called it “the most complete picture of Scientology so far.” I could not agree with Wills more. Inside Scientology traces the history of the enigmatic religion starting with its founding by L. Ron Hubbard to the present day. From Dianetics to the Church’s long running legal battle with the US government to its outreach to Hollywood celebrities (including an entire chapter devoted to Scientology’s courting of Tom Cruise) it’s all there. Well-written and well-researched, I found Inside Scientology to be one of the most engaging and fascinating page-turners I’ve encountered over the last few years. It easily makes my “best of” list for 2012. Highly recommended.