There have been several reviews lodged at Amazon Books about Memoirs of a Scientology Warrior since an earlier post here on reviews.
The first half was very good and quite engaging. The second half spent far too much time on details in the the mid-80’s and seemed a bit self congratulatory over the authors actions that led to his rise in the church.
What we as outsiders really wanted to know was how people can get sucked into this cult and how those lucky few escape. I would find for instance, Katie Holmes’ story fascinating- though I’m guessing she’s not willing to take on Miscavige by opening up.
We can only hope that those within this “church” see the true Light.
– Joanne M. Greene (New York)
I found Memoirs of a Scientology Warrior a great read. Although I had read the general history of LRH and Scientology in other books, this book had a lot of info I had not read before and it was surprising, touching, shocking, dismaying and thought-provoking through the twists and turns of the story.
It made me understand a lot more about how an intelligent person could get so deeply involved in Scientology, then Corporate Scientology. In this memoir you point out the traps, the rationalizations, and the cognitive dissonances as they occurred throughout your experiences within the church. It must have taken a lot to rebuild yourself after you left Scientology. Your insightful writing in the book and this blog shows that you did.
– Kasey Briggs (Charleston, SC)
For those who either were involved in the corporate Church of Scientology or knew someone who was, this book catches and keeps your attention like good summer fiction while carrying with it important facts about the management and conduct of the church that were heretofore unrevealed.
Mr. Rathbun explains his own personal entrance and involvement in scientology while tracing his rise to the number 2 position in the church. To me, this was the most fascinating part of the read and helps explain how one could become so immersed in a cult with such a horrible reputation, and stay there despite inhumane treatment. Fascinating.
– NoTeacherLeftStanding (Chesapeake Bay, USA)
The key to understanding this book is that its title is truthful: the author, while no longer a top official of the Church of Scientology, is — still — a Scientology Warrior. This is not of the “I-was-a-Scientologist-until-I-realized-it-is-phony” genre.
Rathbun is a true believer. He compares L. Ron Hubbard to the Buddha. His descriptions of Scientology’s teachings are supportive and sympathetic. He even seems to accept the Xenu story, suggesting that it is in essence consistent with Gnostic philosophy (which is true, though the same can be said more convincingly of Mormonism; in any event, Rathbun does not explain why the fact that it echoes a recurrently-popular idea over two thousand years old proves that it was a cosmic insight of L. Ron Hubbard). The books’ theme is that David Miscavige has perverted and largely destroyed a religion that could have brought wisdom and health to the world, mostly by defeating psychiatrists. Rathbun’s animus against them stems from his dislike of the psychiatrist who treated his brother, who was apparently psychotic; this is a principal subject of the book’s five introductory biographical chapters, which is, with all due respect, about three too many. They do explain, though, that like so many of the people who have joined and left Scientology Rathbun was a rootless child from a dysfunctional family who lacked education beyond High School.
Much of the book deals with Rathbun’s involvement in coordinating legal matters, mostly lawsuits against Hubbard and Scientology. Although he has no legal training his experience gave him a good understanding of litigation. His descriptions of law, procedure, and strategy, as well as of the kinds of debates and discussions that go on behind the scenes before and during trials, are accurate.
The book discusses a few of Scientology’s embarrassing episodes and acknowledges that they occurred with Hubbard’s knowledge and approval, and generally at his inspiration. But it presents them as unfortunate excesses committed as overreactions to nefarious acts of Scientology’s vicious and unprincipled “enemies,” including psychiatrists, law enforcement, and various state and federal government agencies. Rathbun tells us that he has seen documents proving that the psychiatrists, etc., did lots of bad things but that the documents couldn’t actually be revealed, you see, because even though they were stolen by Scientologists (one of those unfortunate excesses) to prove these things, revealing them would harm Scientology.
The book’s editors are Scientologist friends of Rathbun; his prose is clear and easily-read but a professional might have pointed out that it does not always recognize where real English stops and Scientology jargon begins. The proofreading is not perfect; there are, at least at the moment, a few typos and places where information is repeated, clearly inadvertently, but not enough to be bothersome.
– Steve Harrison (Tuscon, Az)
An overall interesting book which started a little slow but picked up steam quickly and then maintained my interest until the end.
– J.K. Kerlin (Durant, Ok)
It’s been roughly 3 weeks since I finished Marty’s latest book. I started on a Friday evening and finished the following morning. I made myself unavailable and unreachable until I reached the back cover.
The book answered all the nagging questions I had regarding what went wrong. Ironically, Hubbard said in an early lecture that every living thing carries the germ of its own demise. I believe Marty spots the germs Hubbard himself implanted – no pun intended.
But it also gave Marty’s very personal experience with how very right many core aspects of the subject are; and which kept him fighting the good fight. The parallels with my Scn-staff experience were many.
I had personally believed Hubbard missed or under-evaluated one axiom: “Absolute power corrupts absolutely” . But its never just one datum that derails a subject.
Thanks Marty. And as I keep an eye on your blog – I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Mosey. As tough as Marty is I have my doubts he could of weathered these last several years without you.
– Dean J. Detheridge (Sydney, Australia)
This book is a must read for any looking for the inside story from one who was there.
The time line covered is one mans journey into and up to the upper management ranks, telling the story as it occurred for him.
It is an amazing account of what was going on behind the scenes in his personal, managerial and legal fields.
I have spent years digging into many areas covered in this book and find Marty’s telling of events to align with what I had independently found. It provides, fill in the blank pieces otherwise unavailable to any who were simply not there.
This is a valuable book to add to ones knowledge of the inner workings of Scientology’s management and legal arms and some of the real story of Ron Hubbard’s final days.
This is recommended reading for all who were there during those troubled times.
– “Ann Howe” (USA)
Memoirs of a Scientology Warrior is a MUST READ for any current or former members of Scientology. Marty Rathbun goes into detail concerning the major legal situations that confronted Scientology in the 70s and 80s. Many of us in Scientology were told to ignore what was going on and were fed a public relations line about what we should think about the dirty and dark activities of Scientology. In this book we get the facts from a key player. The book is also an honest reflection on Marty’s many years in Scientology and, after time for examination, a clearer sense about L.Ron Hubbard, his life and technology. The information about LRH in his later years including his interview with one of the last people to live with LRH is page turning and enlightening.
– Mark Fisher (Las Vegas)
For me, reading this book was a matter of stepping into a magical, parallel dimension. No other story I could compare it to as the writer’s life was so completely unique. Which has made the book unforgettable. To become aware of places or lives or situations I have never been or seen before, or conditions one is wholly unfamiliar with, is an expansion of livingness. The writer conveys this experience to the reader like a gentle wind. I found myself wanting to read it all over again.
– Catherine (Las Vegas)
It takes Rathbun almost 50 pages to get to his first encounter with Scientology. On the one hand it is interesting to read about his background, so we know where he is coming from. But he does go into much unnecessary detail about his teenage basketball exploits and some other things as well. Rathbun spent his preteen/teen years in Laguna Beach California in the late 1960s to early 1970s and the area in that era is described far better in Orange Sunshine: The Brotherhood of Eternal Love and Its Quest to Spread Peace, Love, and Acid to the World. Rathbun is at times a good writer, but for a project such as this–a real book–as opposed to blog writing–I think he would have greatly benefited from a co-writer or editor experienced with the memoir/autobiography genre.
The experience of joining the Sea Org and what life is like there is described far better, far more compellingly, and much more interestingly in books like Marc Headley’s Blown for Good, Jefferson Hawkins’ Counterfeit Dreams, and John Duignan’s The Complex.
What “Memoirs” ends up being is a sort of (perhaps unintentional) attempt at a legal thriller. Much of the book is a fairly dull recounting of Rathbun’s role as organizer and coordinator of defending the COS against lawsuits. While not an attorney himself, Rathbun is put in charge of overseeing it all. But this is no “A Civil Action” or John Grisham novel. Much of it, as I said, makes for fairly dull reading.
Rathbun also spends a bit too much time trying to explain Scientology, and there is in my opinion too much space devoted to quotes from Hubbard, whether musings or Scientology “scripture”. That is not what I bought the book for.
But there are more than a few interesting passages, enough for me to give the book 3 stars. However I feel the book is a missed opportunity to get a really compelling behind-the-scenes look at the people and personalities that made up the top of the COS hierarchy. From the book: “I did not witness the Mission Holder’s conference first-hand, nor the Mayo-Nelson takedown. It would be years later before [I heard about it]…I was too busy fighting in the trenches, fighting the war…” Well, from reading the book, it seems that what Rathbun did in this war was deathly dull legal work, filing endless motions, that sort of thing. The COS spent millions defending lawsuits that they could have settled for a song, and Rathbun knows it. But he is powerless to change the strategy.
I was also expecting the book to be about Rathbun’s complete career in Scientology (the title suggests as much), yet the book ends upon the death of Hubbard. There is a short epilogue and Rathbun mentions that he has mostly written about his post-Hubbard Sea Org career elsewhere. I found this a bit odd; I suppose readers of Rathbun’s other two books won’t mind, but as I have not read them, I was left wanting less about his early, pre-Scientology life, less about the lawsuits, and more about the COS under Miscavige.
Rathbun himself is an interesting figure, no doubt. He comes across in interviews as soft-spoken, intelligent, and insightful. Yet he was a right-hand-man to the evil David Miscavige, and is pretty unapologetic about it all (only very recently, when he pretty much had to move away from his Texas apartment because he was being spied upon by the COS, did he say that it was sort of Karma what was being done to him).
– Nytc7 (New York)