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The Church of Fear: Inside The Weird World of Scientology Kindle Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 135 customer reviews

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Length: 370 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Review

'A bold and swashbuckling reporter...let him shout: at least he shouts the truth' MAIL ON SUNDAY 'Gripping' THE ECONOMIST 'A brave book' LIVERPOOL DAILY POST 'Blackly comic' THE NEW HUMANIST

About the Author

John Sweeney is a reporter for BBC Panorama. He is the author of six previous books including the novel Elephant Moon.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 740 KB
  • Print Length: 370 pages
  • Publisher: Silvertail Books (7 Jan. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00AQY300M
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 135 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #56,135 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is a strange beast - the subject is fascinating but the writing is terrible. Although Sweeney may be a very good investigative journalist, and perhaps his other books are better, in Church of Fear he is incredibly repetitive. If I hear the phrases 'space alien satan' or 'exploding tomato' again I shall punch whoever utters them. All this is not helped by the typos that litter the Kindle edition, I felt as though I was reading a rough draft rather than a published book. Nevertheless, I enjoyed this book but it certainly has weak points.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
For anybody who saw John Sweeney's Panorama meltdown whilst filming their Scientology investigation, this should be required reading. The build up to that incident, plus the post incident fallout, is all covered here along with a wealth of background information about this cult/religion (make your own decision once you've read the book). The primary feeling I have after finishing the book is admiration, not just for Sweeney but also for the Scientology 'defectors' he interviewed. The levels of intimidation and harassment they appear to have been subjected to by the 'church' really is disturbing.

The only reason this has a 4/5 review is that it doesn't appear to have been thoroughly proof read. There are quite a few spelling and grammatical errors that take the shine off an otherwise excellent book.
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Objective this book isn't. Entertaining it is. BBC journalist John Sweeney recounts his highly personal tour around the downright weird world of Scientology, as he makes a Panorama documentary on the subject over a number of years. Much of the book is dialogue from that documentary, now famous for the "exploding tomato" bit, where the mental strain of going up against this mega (or not so mega, as the book reveals) church/cult/money-making machine caused Sweeney to erupt in a fit of rage viewed by millions on youtube.

Sweeney and his crew get followed, filmed, and spied on to a disturbing degree, as they travel around the UK and the US in search of interviews with those who are in the church and those who got out. He rejoices in descriptions of the people that he meets and the bizarre conversations he has with them. He uses the word "creepy" a lot, makes a convincing argument for the use of the 'c' word (no, not that one), and talks about Xenu and space aliens.

Sweeney says he didn't want anything going into the book that he hadn't experienced or heard first hand. As shrouded in secrecy as Scientology is, this is certainly a good stance to take. However, I would have liked a slightly clearer picture of the inner workings of the church, and a little more info on the various levels one has to climb through on the church's "Road to Total Freedom". But perhaps that is a different book.

Did I learn something? A bit. Will I ever think about joining the Church of Scientology? You've got to be kidding.
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This really is a superb piece of journalism, detailing as it does the dark and disturbing world of former and existing members of quite possibly the world's most controversial religion. How do you define religion, and is the Church of Scientology justified in calling itself that - what about their critics who state it is really more of a cult and what exactly is a cult, how are such things defined and where do you draw the line - all these things and more are discussed in this deeply disturbing piece of writing.

John Sweeney is best known for his Panorama documentary which is loosely based around this book - this should perhaps be written the other way around, for this book was written as a companion to those who watched that programme and saw his infamous "tomato" episode, where the echelons of the "Church" deliberately goaded him into losing his rag. Their covert surveillance of John's team and everything that they do is by far the most sinister and the almost Godlike persona that the Church leader has leave me in doubt as what side of the fence I sit on when deciding whether this is a cult or not. If you though really want to know, you will have to read this book for yourself.

It is somewhat difficult for me to rate this book, because on the one hand, it is difficult read, but on the other it Is most definitely one of the best written from a journalistic viewpoint that I have read in a long while. Because it does tend to waffle in places, I would probably give it 4.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Utterly compelling. Our own John Sweeney is practically revered in the United States for the investigations he has undertaken to expose the terrifying cult of Scientology which, because of America's enshrined sense of religious freedom, has been allowed to enter the mainstream with barely a whimper of protest. It's thanks to the courage of investigative reporters like Sweeney, Paulette Cooper, Tony Ortega, and others, and recent high profile articles in Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair magazines that the abuses of the 'church' are now so widely recognised. This is one truly scary (and powerful, and wealthy beyond imagining) cult, made famous by its policy of love-bombing (with a view to ensnaring) celebrities like Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Kirstie Alley, to name but a few.

In this book, Sweeney discusses the making of his original CoS documentary where he famously exploded in rage on-screen in response to intense psychological warfare from a church determined to crush his investigation and, subsequently, have him fired from the BBC. It's a testament to Sweeney that he refused to back down, despite admitting to being more afraid at that time than he had ever been when reporting from war zones around the globe, and the groundbreaking Panorama documentary, 'Scientology and Me' (and the follow-up, 'The Secrets of Scientology'), was the result.

Seriously fascinating stuff. Highly recommended to fans of secretive cult exposés, cracking investigative journalism, and free speech.
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