Stayed up into the night finishing Marc Headley's Blown for Good. I was blown away by how good this book was. I could not put it down - and I'm glad I didn't.
I finished Nancy Many's Billion Year Contract a couple of days ago. That was a good book, It is distinct among the recent Scientology survivor books in how it gives an inside view on how mental illness and Scientology don't mix. Maybe too much of an "inside" view. The book was grueling for sure but I would recommend it. But that book didn't capture me quite so much as Blown for Good.
The day after I finished Nancy Many's book, I got Blown for Good in the mail. There is so much about this book to like. There is a charm to it. I realized half way through the book that all the chapter titles were taken from Depeche Mode songs and like the music of Depeche Mode, the book takes you some place dark where strength and vulnerability walk hand in hand. It also occurred to me that is book begs to be made into a movie, not only because the picture Marc paints is so clear, but also because we already have a sound track.
Marc's sarcastic, smart ass comments are great comic relief and not just funny to laugh at, but almost necessary as he takes you into the world of Scientology's "Secret" Base, the domain of the sociopathic, sadistic "leader" Dave Miscavige. More than any other book to date (I think I've read them all) this book paints a portrait of Miscavige. It is not a pretty picture. Miscavige comes off sometimes as a cartoonish super villain, laughing maniacally at his hapless minions who he makes to suffer, but Marc keeps up anecdote after anecdote, with quotes and details to remind you that this is a real person he is talking about. These surreal outrages against the trust that was placed in this sick man really did happen (and are still happening).
There is a good deal of insider information about Tom Cruise, Lisa McPherson and many other people of interest to the critics of Scientology as well as the general public. I kept thinking to myself while reading this book that Marc just happened to be in the right place at the right time to tell me everything that I was curious about.
Much of what I found so interesting about the book stems from my own curiosity as an ex-Sea Org member who didn't last quite as long as he did. While I never went to the "Secret" Int Base, I experienced the veil of mystique that surrounded the Int Base and had been in awe of it. Turning the pages of this book, Marc tells me the only thing to be in awe of at the Int Base was the incompetence, abuse and lack of dignity. I saw enough outrageous stuff during my time in the Sea Org to make me sneak out of the Sea Org's LA base in the middle of the the night, but I had no idea how bad it really was at the upper echelons. In recent years I've read about Miscavige hitting people and the sleep deprivation and the rest, but when Marc's book hit me with it page after page, I got worn down - more and more outraged. The only thing that sustained me was the knowledge that it would end for Marc.
It is haunting to know that for many Sea Org members it hasn't ended and is still going on, especially when I remind myself how many of these Sea Org members joined out of a selfless desire to help others.
To say that Marc names names in this book is an under statement. There are some that he leaves out, but the important ones are in. The mood, the incompetence and internal politics of the the Sea Org are painstakingly detailed with a long string of events related by Marc, most of which he witnessed first hand. These are details that I wondered about for a long time - how did the mighty Sea Org operate at the highest levels? Marc's answer is fear, back stabbing and (for some reason I'm using his word a lot in this review) incompetence.
The plot of the book works well as a story. The good guy is Marc the author and the bad guy is, ultimately, David Miscavige. All the other bad guys are just idiots who haven't figured out that Miscavige will throw them to the wolves once he drains them dry. The only thing suspicious about the book is that Marc seems to come off as a overly reasonable person who at the same time happens to be just as brainwashed as everyone around him - never giving in to the back stabbing, in fighting and desperate, immoral measures which surrounds him more so than the razor wire and guards.
I'll say it again to anyone listening. This book begs to be made into a movie. Not only does it read like a screen play with sarcasm, but is a story that needs to be taken to the public. I wouldn't say this is the beginning of the end for Scientology. The "end" is well underway. This is the middle of the end - it's a good time for a movie.