The Reading List: Scientology

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The Independent Culture

The set text

'Dianetics' by L Ron Hubbard; £13.00

Last week marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of Scientology founder L Ron Hubbard, whose Dianetics remains the canonical text of the controversial religion and is referred to as "Book One" by followers. Published in 1950, he started the movement with his assertion that we have a "reactive mind" that underlies and enslaves mankind and which we need to remove in order to be happy.


'A Piece of Blue Sky: Scientology, Dianetics and L Ron Hubbard Exposed' by Jon Atack; £14.99

Atack was 19 years old when he became a Scientologist. After completing 24 of the 27 levels of therapy, he became disillusioned with the leadership of David Miscavige, who took over in the early 1980s. Atack exposes Hubbard's bizarre imagination and behaviour and the book reveals Scientology's alleged abuses.


'Battlefield Earth' by L Ron Hubbard; £5.99

Before Scientology, Hubbard was a celebrated pulp sci-fi author, publishing dozens of novels. He mainly gave up writing in the Fifties, but in 1982, he published Battlefield Earth. Set 1,000 years in the future, when Earth is ruled by an alien race, a film adaptation starring Hollywood Scientologist John Travolta was made in 2000 and is widely considered to be one of the worst films ever made.


'Tom Cruise: An Unauthorized Biography' by Andrew Morton; not available in the UK

In 2008, Morton published his biography of the world's most famous Scientologist, Tom Cruise. A chunk is dedicated to discussing Cruise's religion – claiming that Cruise was the organisation's second-in-command. The Church released a statement calling the publication "a bigoted, defamatory assault". Due to the UK's libel laws it is currently unavailable in this country.


'The Apostate: Paul Haggis vs the Church of Scientology' by Lawrence Wright; free online:

Last month, The New Yorker published a 25,000-word exposé on Scientology through the eyes of a high-profile defector, the Hollywood writer and director Paul Haggis. It's a powerhouse piece, and includes the bombshell that the FBI is investigating Scientology for human-trafficking abuses, as well as plenty of other strange anecdotes and revelations.