Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-05-16
- Reviewer: Staff
The Church of Scientology has become a corrupt, totalitarian despotism under its leader David Miscavige, according to this excoriating memoir by his father. Ron Miscavige, a musician who worked on Scientologist videos, still appreciates founder L. Ron Hubbard's philosophy and credits its auditing process—a kind of psychoanalysis, as he describes—with curing David's boyhood asthma. Unfortunately, he contends, under his son's leadership Scientology is mainly about extracting money and labor from the faithful. Miscavige describes prison-like conditions at the church's California compound: Sea Org devotees worked endless hours for negligible pay, faced frequent roll calls and grim communal meals, had mail and phone calls monitored, endured weeks-long confinement in "the Hole" for imaginary infractions, were accompanied by guards off-base, and were hounded by and disconnected from family members if they, like the author, escaped. Meanwhile, Miscavige suggests, David's Machiavellian rise to power made him a "toxic personality" and "sociopath" given to public rages laced with obscenities (sometimes directed at his father), chaotic micromanagement, and sadistic power plays. Miscavige and amanuensis Koon shape these anecdotes into a vivid portrait of religion as a cross between monastic deprivation and abusive McJob. The resulting memoir adds the poignancy of family conflict to now-familiar stories about Scientology. Photos. (May)