BARE-FACED MESSIAH: The True Story of L. Ron Hubbard by Russell Miller
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BARE-FACED MESSIAH: The True Story of L. Ron Hubbard

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In this jaw-dropping biography, Miller (Bunny: The Real Story of Playboy, 1985; The House of Getty, 1986) throws floodlights on the extravagant life of the century's premier spiritual con-man. Will the saga of L. Ron Hubbard ever come to a close? Years after his death, great indigestible chunks of his ten-part science-fiction epic (Mission Earth) continue to stuff bookstore racks, and thousands of his Scientology drones still haunt train stations and malls spreading his eccentric gospel. That Hubbard enjoys a shadowy life after death fits the almost inhuman energy, will, and cunning with which he rampaged through seven decades--from his birth in 1911 to a middle-class Nebraska family to this demise in 1986 as a multimillionaire in hiding from the feds. For years a tireless and nearly always broke pulp action-writer (during one six-week period, reports Miller, he wrote a short story of between 4,500 and 20,000 words a day), Hubbard achieved fame when he turned to science fiction in the late 30's, and money-drenched notoriety when he established the ""science"" of Dianetics--Scientology in embryo--in the 50's. Miller divines Dianetics' roots in Hubbard's little-known ties to a magical group linked to depraved magus Aleister Crowley, and carefully traces the evolution of Hubbards's claptrap pseudo-religion into the Scientology brain-steaming machine that at its height was making the bogus guru tens of millions of dollars a year. Ever the lying, pathological monomaniac, Hubbard eventually mutated into dictator of his own sea-faring country, headquarted on a yacht where he was serviced round the clock by an army of nubiles. But finally his power corrupted him absolutely, and as the feds nabbed his wife and other cronies for conspiracy, fraud, etc., he drifted into incognito limbo. Miller dearly set out to skewer Hubbard and ends up with Ron-L.-kabob cooked nicely on his pointed, if not shining, prose. Ripley couldn't top this one. Thoroughly researched, and simply amazing.

Pub Date: June 20th, 1988
Publisher: Henry Holt