| 4/5 |
August 19, 1990
19 August 1990
| Lyle Stuart Books, Carol Publishing Group|
Scientology books, Non-fiction books
A Piece of Blue Sky: Scientology, Dianetics and L. Ron Hubbard Exposed, published in 1990, is an examination from a critical perspective by British former Scientologist Jon Atack of the history of L. Ron Hubbard (1911–1986) and the development of Dianetics and the Church of Scientology. The title originates from a quote of Hubbard's from 1950, when he was reported as saying that he wanted to sell potential church members a "piece of blue sky."
The church's publishing arm, New Era Publications International, tried to prevent the book's publication, arguing that it infringed on its copyright of Hubbard's works. A court in Manhattan ruled against publication, but the decision was overturned on appeal.
A Piece of Blue Sky Wikipedia
Atack joined the sect at the age of nineteen in 1974, and was based largely in the church's British headquarters at Saint Hill Manor, near East Grinstead. During his training, he said he progressed to Scientology's Operating Thetan level 5, completing 24 of the 27 levels of therapy or education. He left the church in 1983 in disillusionment with the new leadership of David Miscavige, who took over in the early 1980s. He writes that he saw the new management as tough and ruthless, and objected particularly to the 15-fold increase in training fees. He also objected to being told not to have relationships with so-called "Suppressive Persons," people the church had declared enemies and who should not be communicated with; one such person was one of Atack's friends.
Atack left the sect as a result, and is now at the centre of what J. Gordon Melton calls an anti-Scientology network in the UK. He is also the author of a booklet, "The Total Freedom Trap: Scientology, Dianetics And L. Ron Hubbard" (1992).
The book's 37 chapters are arranged into nine parts, plus introductory material, a preface by Russell Miller, author of Bare-faced Messiah, a bibliography, reference summary and index. Part 1 describes Atack's personal experience in the church. Parts 2–8 are a chronological history of L. Ron Hubbard, Dianetics and Scientology, researched from paper sources and interviews. Part 9 draws conclusions about the belief system of Scientology and its founder.
Scientology's publishing arm, New Era Publications, attempted to prevent publication by arguing that the manuscript's inclusion of material by Hubbard infringed on their copyright of Hubbard's work, and would harm sales of the original texts. The court ruled that the manuscript might discourage people from buying Hubbard's books by convincing them he was a swindler, and that copyright law protects rather than forbids this kind of criticism. Before the outcome of the case was known, the publisher prepared two versions of the book: one with and one without Hubbard's quoted material. After publication, Scientologists picketed Atack's East Grinstead home for six days and spread defamatory leaflets around his neighbourhood.
In April 1995, a court in England found Atack guilty of libel against Margaret Hodkin, the headmistress of Scientology's Greenfields School in England, and issued an injunction forbidding publication of an offending paragraph. The decision was upheld by the High Court in London in May 1995. The case led Amazon.com to remove the book from its listings in February 1999, but it reversed its decision a few months later after customers complained.
Marco Frenschkowski, writing in the Marburg Journal of Religion in 1999, describes A Piece of Blue Sky as "the most thorough general history of Hubbard and Scientology, very bitter, but always well-researched." It has been used as a source by several academic papers. The Tampa Tribune-Times said that Atack's provision of extensive detail and source notes for each claim sometimes gets in the way of the story, but prevents the book from being just another bitter diatribe against Scientology.