An enlightening read on Scientology, even if the writings and postulation of R.L. Hubbard are still as confusing as ever.
The book can be viewed as two parts: the background of Hubbard and his increasingly deranged and fanatical work that formed Scientology, and the celebrity culture and perpetuation of excess and fear by Miscavige.
Wright focuses on the people in Scientology, rather than a thorough explanation of Scientology beliefs. Wright does go into the basics of Scientology, but quite frankly, it is all so confusing and strange, even though Wright does his best to methodically go through it.
It's hard to understand where the religion is in Scientology. Some sort of philosophy, sure, but religion? As Wright so clearly delineates, Hubbard never intended to set out for religion, he was interested in psychology and trauma in the beginning. Reading about Hubbard was truly terrifying. How could this man create such a loyal devotion of followers? From the profile in the book, he Hubbard was a pathological liar with grandiose schemes.
I certainly liked reading about the celebrities mentioned. Wright sticks to the main players, however, and doesn't descend into gossip. Tom Cruise is portrayed as...well...as crazy as the rest of the authority. It is sad to think of all the children raised into Scientology who do not have famous celebrity relatives, and are doomed to a tortuous life in the Sea Org with little opportunity to see the outside world.
Really great read, and I recommend to anyone who is interested in the psychology of power and fear.