It gives you chills to consider that present Scientologists might believe even one-tenth of the lunacy of the L. Ron Hubbard that this book reveals as a paranoid, authoritarian, self-aggrandising, destructive, and pathalogical ( ).
Hubbard was clearly a severly disturbed individual, and his motivation for founding Scientology was also clearly a direct result of his delusions and desire for attention, and, later, for cash.
Scientology itself is revealled as a mixture of pop psychology, new age healing techniques, and belief in our heritage as space aliens - all three spiced-up by the illicit thrill that only secret knowledge (priced in US$ of course) can bring.
In other words, welcome to 20th Century free market Gnosticism, with a bit of everything tossed in, for good measure, by a deranged cook that seems to have no taste buds at all.
Even assuming (following the death of Hubbard) there has been a corporate sanitising of the whackier aspects of his philosophy (and trust me here, the book is overflowing with examples of these), the fact that anyone would choose such an obviously broken foundation stone to build anything on, is enough cause for the alarm bells to start ringing.
The book is exhaustively researched and is a completely mind-blowing read, as the reader gets to walk a path from a creative childhood in which we learn about Hubbard's natural talent for story-telling that later developed into his relatively successful science-fiction career, to a progressively-stunted adulthood where lies becomes the main creative media he works with.
It would be good to see a follow up that deals less with Hubbard and more with how the Scientologists absorbed his legacy into their current practice (quite well, it would seem, from the myriad of media reports of destructive cultic behaviour).
Now that would take some explaining.
But this is outside the scope of this biography.
The book has a ring of authenticity thanks to the well-established credentials of the journalist who wrote it, and thus stands as a credible portrait of a destructive cartoon character that - unfortunately - more than a few people saw as their messiah.