rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is the amazing tale of the world's most deluded, and most posthumously successful, con-man and really gets inside the machinations of his strangely mendacious imagination. You almost admire Hubbard as he streams off one ridiculous lie after another from adolescence onwards so as to make his place in the world with his few other talents - a fact he never faces by creating an ever greater history of himself which often you wonder if even he believes. You can see then just how, sporadically between the 1930s and 1950s, he was able to pump out a several thousand word sci-fi, western or fantasy adventure story nightly by just going out to the shed, often accompanied by a bottle of rum to aid his already overactive imagination, and typing away till dawn when the first of his three wives would send it off (inferring he somehow made very few typos or mistakes in 1st drafts) to whichever magazine he left instructions while he slept till 3pm that afternoon when he would wake up, have a big breakfast, perhaps go fishing and drinking with one of his buddies, to whom he would invent more hole-ridden and stupendous lies about his [in reality:] very flawed military record, and then stumble out to the shed and do it all over again. This would make a fantastic film if it wasn't for the fact that the Dianeticians/Scientologists would sue your ass off. I've heard of one British producer who did attempt to get such a project green-lighted in the 1980s only to have the studio chicken out. I would love to make a film just from the chapter in which Hubbard teams up with a black magician in California under the tutelage of an obviously close-to-death Alistair Crowley back in the UK. This Satanic trio rope in red-headed prostitutes to create a "Moon Child", (envisaged as some kind of Black-Magik Jesus with great powers and under their command.) The whole episode ends with Hubbard running off with the warlock's wife and a whole lot of his money which he uses to buy a yacht and sail away from the cops who have him, even back then a good ten years before he invents Dianetics, as a suspect on fraud charges. This echoes his later life in which he is pursued across the world on his large ship The Flying Scot Man (sic) attended by his followers who are thrown overboard if they disobey, and his nubile teenage "messengers." Even to the end, his cover blown in the press when some of his followers, including his third wife, are caught are caught and tried after attempting to destroy all Hubbard's government records, despite the fact that he sent many of them in himself (constantly denouncing his enemies, including his second wife and her suspected lover, as Communists in letters to J. Edgar Hoover throughout the 50s and 60s, causing the FBI to write him off as someone suspected to be highly mentally unstable and not to be trusted in his official file) Hubbard still believed he would persevere, and on the verge of his death created a film production company in the desert, directing the actors himself and sending those who he deemed unworthy of his direction off to his own feared re-education and punishment corps where they were treated as less than human - as opposed to MORE than human as they had been before, i.e. Thetans, but that's a whole other shtick we don't have time or space to get into here. You can discover the rest for yourself by buying the book online as it's apparently out of print for legal reasons in Australia. (I found this hardback US First Edition for only $US20 on Amazon.) Russell Miller is a former journalist for the Sunday Times in England and importantly lends a strong sense of journalistic integrity to his style. Hence while the first couple of chapters concerning the Hubbard family history and LRH as a child may seem a bit dry and superfluous they are there for a reason which becomes readily apparent in both humanising this weird anti-hero with whom it would otherwise be impossible to empathise with, and as exposition for the later ever-increasing action of the story as it really starts to rise, making the majority of the twenty-two chapters an action packed and hilarious ride, made frightening by the obvious veracity of the Russell Miller's well-researched revelations and anecdotes from those who knew and worked with Hubbard throughout his long, strange life.
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