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579 of 591 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From a Relative of the Leader: Scientology Exposed
I eagerly awaited the publication of this book, ticking off the days on my calendar until the February 5th release date. Why? Because a story from a niece of the leader of the Church of Scientology, David Miscavige, was too good to ignore. While there are numerous books written by high-ranking defectors from the clutches of Scientology, the story of a blood relative of...
Published 22 months ago by Stacy

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44 of 53 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting story, mediocre writing
I want to say that this book has fulfilled its purpose for me. I bought this book so I could get a look inside Scientology and it delivered in spades. What a bizarre cult life Jenna had to live. I don't regret the money I spent on it, and I can wholeheartedly recommend it on that basis. Unfortunately it is clear that Ms. Hill is not a writer and I found the writing...
Published 22 months ago by Gala Zonis


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579 of 591 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From a Relative of the Leader: Scientology Exposed, February 5, 2013
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This review is from: Beyond Belief (Hardcover)
I eagerly awaited the publication of this book, ticking off the days on my calendar until the February 5th release date. Why? Because a story from a niece of the leader of the Church of Scientology, David Miscavige, was too good to ignore. While there are numerous books written by high-ranking defectors from the clutches of Scientology, the story of a blood relative of "COB" is unique. And thus, with much expectation, I read this memoir.

Story

Jenna Miscavige Hill, the niece of David Miscavige, was born February 1, 1984, and became a member of the third generation of a family of Scientologists. When she was four her parents gave up their lives as "public Scientologists" and traveled to Los Angeles to join the Sea Org. Since her parents were upper-echelon members of the church, Jenna was raised at the Ranch, a facility where the children of high-ranking Scientologists live. As you can imagine, Jenna did not see her parents often, but as she had no outside experience, this was not odd to her. Nor was signing a Billion-Year Contract to join the Sea Org herself at the young age of 6 viewed as odd. In her own words, she wanted to make her parents proud.

What follows is the story of a woman who saw the inner machinations of the church. Her parents arrived in LA shortly before L. Ron Hubbard died, and while young, she witnessed the rise of her Uncle Dave as the leader of the Church of Scientology. Jenna describes the rigid lifestyle of Sea Org members, detailing the grueling work schedules and harsh punishments for mistakes.

Ultimately Jenna comes to see Scientology as many others do: a cult that has the power to destroy lives. This eventually leads to Jenna fleeing from Scientology, dodging security guards who would forcibly return her to the base, and making the brave decision to publish a tell-all memoir. It should be noted that in the beginning of the book Jenna specifically points out that there are many aliases used for people within her book; she even takes the unusual step of listing which names are aliases. While nice, I never really found myself cross-checking that list against the name of a new person introduced in the text.

Should I Buy It?

This book is very well-written and done in a style as to be engaging and very informative. Jenna's writing style is descriptive and to-the-point, without beleaguering the reader with long-winded explanations. She also takes the time to explain various aspects of Scientology so that the lay person would understand: Scientology is a very insular "religion" with its own terminology for many aspects of its faith. Nearly every building or personnel title is abbreviated by initials, and Jenna takes the time to explain what each one means so that the reader will not be confused. Her writing is very intelligent and witty, dotted with personal reflections of the situations that she relates. So calm is her delivery that you are amazed, even as she tells stories of cruel punishments and abuses in the higher levels of the church.

While there are many books from defectors of Scientology, this one ranks as special due to the simple fact that this was written by a close blood relative of "COB, RTC", David Miscavige. It is one thing for a high-ranking member to defect and release a tell-all memoir, quite another when a high-ranking relative of the head of the church does so. This is not to say that other books out there are not worth the time nor are they less honest, it simply means that you know things have to be pretty ugly for someone who could benefit from nepotism to run away!

The Bottom Line

Whether you are new to the study of Scientology's defectors or this book is adding to your collection, you will find it educational and very well-written. The Church has already blasted the contents as spurious, which is not new (their legal tactics and creed to pursue detractors and trash them is well-documented church dogma). The passion that Jenna had toward Scientology and her break from it is a story that is sad: it was all that she knew, and for her to see Scientology in a light other than positive is shocking within itself. Combine that with the Scientology practice of "disconnection", wherein she is labelled a Suppressive Person and active Scientologists are prohibited from speaking with her, and her courage is all the more amazing. Disconnection doesn't just stop at friends and co-workers. It extends to your family: and her family is deeply entrenched within Scientology. As mentioned prior, she was a third-generation Scientologist. Her Uncle rose to the top of the organization: her leaving the Church of Scientology (both literally and figuratively) disconnected her with all that she has ever known.

And then she took the time to write about it. That is courage.

If you want an in-depth look at the Church's machinations and want to know what drove the niece of the leader to flee, get a copy of this book. You will not be disappointed.
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460 of 482 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Harrowing Story of Cult Abuses and Family Interference, February 5, 2013
By 
Parker Fan "PF" (Pinellas County, FL USA) - See all my reviews
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I am not now, nor have I ever been, a scientologist. My interest in books such as Jenna’s stems from the fact that I live in Clearwater, FL (Scientology’s Mecca – or whatever the heck they call it). For most of us Clearwater residents, we barely notice the Cult’s presence. If you live outside of Downtown Clearwater, you will rarely if ever see a Cult member. (I’m fairly certain they’re not allowed to go to the beach either – at least not in uniform – I’ve never seen any there in my 20 years of living here. Bummer for them). While most of us accept the fact that our Downtown has been destroyed by the Cult and abandoned by pretty much everyone else, many of us do feel sad that there is absolutely no reason to stop there on the drive between our homes and our beautiful beach. Although they claim to be huge, with millions of members, we on the ground here can tell you that their buildings occupy a few city blocks, and their actual cult members do not appear large in number. The average tourist to our beaches would have no knowledge of their existence, as the drive down 60 from TIA to the beach would not in any way reveal their presence.

That said, their presence here still irritates me, hence my purchasing Jenna’s book (and others like it). Each time I read one of these “escape from the cult” books, I feel ashamed of our local child protective services. I’m saddened that my city’s law enforcement has no balls when it comes to the cult.

Jenna’s experience, like that of most children within the confines of the Cult, is hard for me to fathom. I’ll never understand people like Jenna’s parents, who happily sacrifice their children to a life of labor and servitude, in order to further the Cult’s agenda. An agenda which, is clearly about nothing more than making money. Scientologists can say whatever they want, but the fact of the matter is, they collect copious amounts of money from their members and then fail to do anything but buy buildings (which largely remain unoccupied) and put it in what must be HUGE bank accounts. I imagine all of those bank accounts are off-shore. They pretend to do good works for the community, but they do not. They have no charities, no food banks, no help for the homeless population, no nothing. How is that a religion? They don’t even do anything for their own members. They just drive them into bankruptcy.

The main takeaway from this book, for me, is reinforcement that the Cult is deadly to families. The practice of disconnection and declaring people “SP’s” and whatnot destroys family bonds. Kids growing up in the cult rarely get to experience true family bonding, and they know almost nothing of creating life-long friendships. Even if I felt compelled to let them have their beliefs and go about their business, I could never ignore the abuse they heap on their helpless off-spring.
A corrupt organization that forces its members to escape under fear of capture is the furthest thing from “religion” in my estimation. I wish Jenna and her family well, and I am happy to know that she now feels the joy of true family. I hope her book helps others to escape, and I hope books like these, the various websites and Anonymous continue to keep our local residents here inoculated from the Cult’s grasp.
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166 of 174 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chilling look inside a frightening cult, February 6, 2013
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If you have any doubt that Scientology is a dangerous cult, this book will dispel that notion.

Brainwashing? Check. In fact, the author, like many others, signed a ONE-BILLION-YEAR contract to serve Scientology's most "elite" division AT THE AGE OF SIX. Near-worship of a charismatic leader (L. R. Hubbard)? Check. Forced isolation from the outside world? Check. False imprisonment and near-slave labor (e.g. $24/week for hard physical labor of 15+ hours a day)? Check. A deliberately cultivated culture of fear and paranoia, including rewarding members for reporting the alleged misdeeds of others? Check.

Separating spouses from each other and parents from children (physically and otherwise)for months or even years at a time? Check. Controlling personal relationships (e.g., who one can or cannot marry and whether one can have children)? Check. Vast differences in the lavish lifestyle of the higher-ups and those lower on the totem pole? Check.

Please note that his book details life of those inside the organization, i.e. those who live and work solely within the world of Scientology, as opposed to "public members," who have outside lives, but must pay to take "courses" that will lead to higher enlightenment. This search for enlightenment can mean an investment of up to $100,000 or more. Still, they are subject to many of the same restrictions. Violation or out-loud questioning of the tenets of Scientology can result in being ostracized as an "SP," Suppressive Person.

Celebrities, however, who are highly prized for their money and ability to recruit more innocent suckers, have a completely different experience - i.e., major ass kissing and no contact with the grunts. No wonder they defend this bogus "religion".

I have never been a Scientologist. Have never had friends or family involved in Scientology. No personal ax to grind. I just hate bullies, charlatans and those who exploit others and violate their human rights.

Undoubtedly Scientology robots will flood these pages with negative reviews claiming that this book is all lies. Don't believe them. Read it and make up your own mind (something that Scientologists are encouraged NOT to do). You'll find that the author's account echoes those of many who have left the fold. (She, by the way, is the niece of the current grand poobah.)
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231 of 251 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I came for the lulz and stayed for the outrage!, February 5, 2013
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This review is from: Beyond Belief (Hardcover)
I became interested in Scientology a few years ago after some late night surfing led me to Mr. Cruise's hysterical "only a scientologist can help" video. My initial WTF led me to explore and was quickly replaced with horror. The personal stories from those caught by Scientology are harrowing and Jenna Miscavge Hill's is no exception. She tells her story in a clean, precise, at times frighteningly unemotional way. Her unwillingness to descend into sentimentality makes her descriptions even more damning. This is a gripping autobiography, I read it in one sitting.
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63 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Aptly Titled, Interesting, Informative, and Credible, February 6, 2013
This review is from: Beyond Belief (Hardcover)
Author Jenna Miscavige Hill's parents had joined (actually, rejoined) Scientology's Sea Organization when she was two; the elite group was comprised of its most dedicated members, each of whom had signed a billion-year contract to serve in that organization. Her uncle, David Miscavige, was Scientology's leader. Her early years were spent at 'The Ranch,' a Scientology boarding school with about 80 other children whose parents were Church leaders. Jenny signed the Sea Org contract when she was eight, primarily because it seemed like the 'thing to do' and she thought it would allow her more time with her parents; it was done w/o parental input or advice, though that probably wouldn't had made much difference since they had both signed as teenagers. Similarly, so did the rest of her schoolmates on that day, regardless of their ages.

Jenna describes Scientology as having no god, no praying, no heaven or hell - rather it is a self-help program promising greater self-awareness and the possibility of achieving one's full potential and controlling one's own destiny. Prior to rejoining the Sea Org, her parents had well-paying software jobs in N.H., but that ended after her father spent a few weeks at the Church's center in Clearwater, Fl. The Sea Org was recruiting then at its massive, several bock complex there.

L. Ron Hubbard (LRH) had created the Sea Org group in 1967; he'd been a less than distinguished Navy man, though some said his real motivation to take to the seas at the time was to avoid FDA enforcement after the medical community had labeled him as a fraud. Members had to work 14 hours/day, seven days/week, usually for $15 - 45/week. (Jenna's parents later told her that their returning to the Sea Org (where they'd met) was their worst decision ever. L.A. Scientology headquarters, where they then moved, centered around the former Cedars of Lebanon Hospital building.

'Dianetics' was LRH's first detailing of Scientology beliefs. The purpose of Dianetics, per Jenna, was for trained coaches (aka 'auditors') to guide neophytes back through earlier painful moments, addressing each one until the mind was 'cleared' of them. Since LRH subsequently decided that everyone had a 'spiritual component' (immortal, going back innumerable generations, called 'the 'Thetan') becoming 'cleared' required going back several lifetimes and could involve thousands of prior painful moments (and lots of fees for Scientology). Upon successfully accomplishing a 'state of clear,' one would be free of psychosomatic illnesses or psychoses, experience a giant boost in IQ, and perfect recall of the past. This spiritual component also allowed Scientology to claim religious status, thereby avoiding the need to pay taxes or respond to scientific criticisms.

Ever creative, LRH then declared that there were eight more levels after achieving 'clear.' Achieving them required training only from specially trained Sea Org members; at the time of his death LRH was reportedly developing even higher levels for members to pursue (and pay for).

Traditional education was not viewed a crucial - Uncle Dave and both of Jenna's parents had dropped out of high school. At The Ranch, much of education consisted of memorizing LRH sayings and rules, especially during the after dinner period until 9 P.M.; lights out at 9:30. Traditional subjects were pursued in the afternoons via self-study, with understanding 'verified' by E-Metering (involved holding two soup cans in one's hands while an small electric current was passed through the individual and 'assessed' before a group by an adult's interpretation of the movements of a connected galvanometer (amateur lie-detector).

Other Ranch activities included avoiding non-Scientologists, giving each other demerits for rule violations, attending military-style formations and inspections, and doing labor (eg. carrying railroad ties, moving rocks and demolition materials), often in 100+ degree temperatures. Outsiders witnessing these work activities protested their inappropriateness, to no avail. Rare breaks and a few salt tablets were given out, but no explanation on how to properly use the latter. Protesting the work resulting in assignment to ditch-digging - youth was no excuse because after all they were adult Thetans. Jenna became the site's Medical Liaison Officer (MLO) at age seven - this required asking each child if they were sick, and then trying to treat those that were based on Scientological principles. She also administered vitamins to all, vaguely aware that excesses were bad. Rarely did a doctor (and antibiotics) come to the camp. After a year she and a friend tried running away - that lasted about an hour.

Jenna's story is literally beyond belief. Ultimately she couldn't abide by the never-ending requirements for more Scientology studies, demands for separation of family members (even married couples), constant monitoring of members lives, and degrading punishments - she, her brother, and her parents all left Scientology.
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91 of 102 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars LOVE is a Four Letter Word in Scientology, February 5, 2013
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This review is from: Beyond Belief (Hardcover)
Just finished Jenna Miscavige Hill's book, "Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology And My Harrowing Escape". This Is Why. Thank you, Jenna and Dallas.

Another Mother Roars.

Despite decades of every kind of abuse and indoctrination and humiliation, the routine ripping apart of even the most casual friendship, it was a moment holding a baby and observing children playing, mothers just being moms, and a young man's offer of his heart and soul that broke the evil spell.

Today, Jenna has a room full of love and masterpiece art on the family refrigerator.

All David Miscavige has left is Ken Moxon in his hair and Art of War on the boardroom calculator.

If there is one concept, one issue or lesson I hope anyone out there reading her book will absorb and pass around the family kitchen table is that Any person, group, company, organization of any kind that tries to demean or belittle or remove Love from your heart and your life, Run, Don't Walk, away Immediately. And spread Jenna's words.

I was in some of the dark hallways and tunnels and work camps, many years ago. No one leaves scientology. You can only escape it.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I confirm and corroborrate Jenna. My son grew up at the Ranch, March 2, 2013
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My son Alexander Jentzsch grew up at the ranch with Jenna. Dead at 27 years old on pneumonia and methadone.
He served 16 years in the "Sea organization". A true testament to a lifetime in the Cult of Scientology Inc.
Jenna does tell it accurately. It is quite incredible what we put up inside the "church." Slowly and increasingly the penalties and inhumane treatment increased ~~
and we believed in it all and that we were being noble to suffer through it. !
Jenna tells the story in an easy to read, logical sequence and I am so delighted she portrayed this accurate story of a child and
baby hating "Church".
The separation of husband and wife is a common occurrence especially if one of them has disagreements with the Party Line.
Jenna did not need to embellish or exaggerate or be in inaccurate. You simply cannot make this stuff up.
Highly recommended book. ★★★★★ FIVE STARS ★★★★★
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55 of 62 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars hits home, February 8, 2013
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This review is from: Beyond Belief (Hardcover)
This is a great counterpart to Lawrence Wright's book Going Clear. I read them at the same time, and where his is erudite and painstakingly researched, Jenna's is really from the heart and is written very simply. As an ex-scientologist (I was born in it, third generation) Jenna's book is the one that really made me tear up and feel enraged. Everything she writes about hits so close to home. Thank god I was never in the Sea Org but my brother, sister-in-law, cousin, and uncle were. I cried when I read how she was so close to the end of her rope that she considered ending it all. My sister-in-law, who grew up in all the same places that Jenna did, had a very similar experience. She went crazy over a relationship and was off-loaded for good -- after a lifetime of slave labor for the "church." Really, f--- them. I only wish that I could get my family, public scientologists, to read this book....but they're still too brainwashed. One day!
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brainwashing in the extreme, February 13, 2013
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I have read a number of former Scientologists' book and this one is much like many of the others. The difference is that this was written by a close relative of the current leader (David Miscavige - who is also a good friend of Tom Cruise's). Jenna Miscavige was born into Scientology (3rd generation, actually) and she and her family had little, if any, contact with the outside world where we are called "Wogs". The view of the organization (I cannot in all good conscience call it a religion) is first seen through the child's eyes, and what a view it is. As I was reading about the hard manual labor and the humiliations doled out as punishment for crimes such as imperfect bed making or for using the "wrong" word, I was trying to think of what else their actions reminded me of. Then the lightbulb went on - Chairman Mao and the Cultural Revolution!

There are pictures of "LRH" (Hubbard) everywhere, as well as posters with his sayings - no other adornment on walls other than LRH's image and sayings. The only reading material allowed is what LRH wrote. Forget "normal" schooling - the children must learn LRH's "lessons" and little else. I was not at all surprised when I read that LRH was influenced by the Chinese form of schooling implemented by Chairman Mao. The lessons are often exercises in mind control where the person is literally brow beaten into belief. There are continual tests to see if you are "right" and "ethical". Hard labor for young children. If yo want to move up in the organization, it's bow and scrape, keep your head down, and don't rock the boat. Yes, it all fell into place. Scientology uses exactly the same methods as the Cultural Revolution did to control the population. If someone shows too much inquisitiveness, they are sent to the desert to "re-learn". If someone says the wrong thing (especially around David Miscavige), they are sent to Scientology's form of Siberia; where they sweat in squalid housing, forced to live with up to 50 others in one room, given barely enough to eat, endure daily humiliations, forced hard labor in desert heat, etc. Parents are separated from their children and even married couples are dissuaded from living together. Families are torn apart and that is the norm. Their reasoning for this is that they believe everyone is a living being called a Thetan and, since the Thetans have already been around for a million years (and they are only inhabiting our meat bodies as a means to an end), they can't really have "parents". People cannot live together as husband and wife and children, torn from their parents, forever seek guidance from those they live with.

The stuff that Scientologists believe sounds like sci-fi to us "wogs" but the Scientologists in the Sea Org have been brow-beaten so badly that they have to believe - or else their entire existence is a lie. Public Scientologists have spent anywhere from $100K to $300K on learning about their religion, so they have a vested interest in believing the tales.

What disturbed me most about this tale was how badly the Sea Org treats its members and how much of a personality cult this has all become. First, it was an LRH cult and now it's all about David Miscavige. The man is a monster and I'm afraid that this cult will implode much the way Jonestown, Heaven's Gate, and others have. Too bad it is recognized as a religion - otherwise we might be able to do something about it. Alas, it remains with the individual to find their own way out...if Mr. Miscavige will allow it, that is. Thank goodness Jenna Miscavige found her way out.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well done, Jenna., February 7, 2013
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I was very impressed with Jenna's book. A well written narrative of her life in scientology combined with her youth adds a great deal to the current discussions of this cult. I hope the govt gets them on human trafficking charges.
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