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Granny Reads: Review of "Bare-Faced Messiah" by Russell Miller

Bare-Faced Messiah: The classic exposé of the extraordinary true life of L. Ron Hubbard, founder of ScientologyBare-Faced Messiah: The classic exposé of the extraordinary true life of L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology by Russell Miller
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Bare-Faced Messiah by British journalist, Russell Miller, is, as the subtitle explains, "the classic exposé of the extraordinary true life of L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology."

The last book I finished, "A Billion Years: My Escape from Life in the Highest Ranks of Scientology" was a memoir by Mike Rinder, ex-Scientologist, who referred to the "Bare-Faced Messiah" as a shocking confirmation of the red flags and conscious recognition of the delusional and dangerous narcissist leadership of L. Ron Hubbard. Rinder's story involved a close look at his many-years involvement with Scientology, particularly the years that he spent from his teens and onwards in the exclusive "Sea Org" leadership group and other high ranking experiences in the cult. He makes quite a few references to L. Ron Hubbard, but for most of his life in Scientology, he was in awe of the man-- as were/are thousands of others. What was it about this man that mesmerized his followers and kept them loyal to Scientology and L. Ron, even while witnessing and being subjected to, horrific abuses and deprivations? Rinder's referral to the "Bare-Faced Messiah" as the book that ultimately jolted him out of the spell of LRH's cult and beliefs, appealed to me. I am always curious about why and how intelligent, often insightful, people are taken in by despots and dictators.

In the late 80s the author, Russell Miller, spent two years posthumously researching about L. Ron Hubbard and the Scientology movement. Miller interviewed a number of ex-Scientologists who knew and were closely connected with L. Ron, as well as researching his early pre-Scientology life with interviews with relatives, newspaper and other information, and War records, etc. Miller traveled in Britain and to the United States when he was doing his thorough investigations. Wikipedia records the usual "dirty tricks" campaigns that Miller was subjected to (common fare with L. Ron and his disciples when "wogs" (outsiders) get too close to knowing about the organization, or too threatening to the wealth and power. In Wikipedia, I read:

"In the 1980s Miller spent two years researching Bare-faced Messiah, a posthumous biography of the science-fiction author who had founded Scientology. The book challenges the official account of Hubbard's life and work promoted by the Church of Scientology and it was serialised in The Sunday Times.

While researching the book in the United States, Miller was spied upon. His friends and business associates also received visits from Scientologists and private detectives. Attempts were made to frame him for the murder of a London private detective, the murder of American singer Dean Reed in East Berlin and a fire in an aircraft factory. Senior executives at publishers Michael Joseph, and at The Sunday Times, which serialised the book, received threatening phone calls and also a visit from private investigator Eugene Ingram, who worked for the Church.  Another private investigator, Jarl Grieve Einar Cynewulf, told The Sunday Times journalists that he had been offered "large sums of money" to find a link between Miller and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)"

It is fortunate for Miller that at the time of his research, Scientology had already accrued a reputation globally as a whacky, delusional cult-- some countries would see it as dangerous-- with enough public information from ex-Scientologists in the press to make it likely that most reports against journalists would be treated with eye-rolling and head-shaking disbelief.

The thorough treatment given the subject-- the charlatan, delusional story-teller, manic-depressive, paranoid-schizophrenic, womanizer, and criminal, L. Ron Hubbard was also verified by the fairly substantial amount of 'official documents' shown to Miller by ex-Scientologist, Gerry Armstrong.. 

I read the Kindle version, which is well-formatted and available for a reasonable cost.

I have tried to avoid spoilers because if you are interested in L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology, I want you to read the whole story, unspoiled. The original book is 400+ pages, so not a quick-read.


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View all my reviews at Good Reads.

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