Silvertail to republish controversial Scientology title

Silvertail to republish controversial Scientology title

A controversial book about the life of Scientology founder L Ron Hubbard—Bare-faced Messiah—is to be brought back into print by British independent publisher Silvertail Books.

The biography, written by the then-Times journalist Russell Miller, was first published in the UK in 1987 by Michael Joseph. It tells the story of the life of the Scientology Church's founder, L Ron Hubbard, who died in 1986, and includes material such as Hubbard's teenage diaries, personal correspondence to colleagues, employers and the FBI, as well as government documents such as Hubbard's military service record and FBI file.

The church opposed publication, resulting in court cases in both the UK and US. The book was never published in the US.

However, Silvertail Books will publish Bare-faced Messiah jointly in the UK and the US in February 2014 after securing world English rights from Michael Sissons and Fiona Petheram at PFD. Petheram said rights to the title reverted from Michael Joseph/Sphere in 1993.

Silvertail publisher Humfrey Hunter said: "Bare-faced Messiah was a sensation when it first came out and is every bit as relevant today as it was then. By telling the full, true story of L Ron Hubbard’s extraordinary life, and calling out the untruths  told about it, Russell tells an incredibly colourful story and reveals the origins of Scientology in riveting detail. It’s an astonishing read – your jaw drops on virtually every page."

He told The Bookseller the book was still relevant today because of the “huge global interest” in the institution. “The facts of Hubbard’s life haven’t changed since 1987 and this is the definitive book about one of the most fascinating and notorious men of modern times,” he said. On the possible legal ramifications, Hunter added: "I have taken legal advice and plan to go ahead with publication in the US at the same time as the UK in February."

The new edition will contain a foreword by Miller in which he describes how the church tried to thwart his research for the book. The publication follows Silvertail’s Scientology, The Church of Fear by John Sweeney,  published last January, which has sold 14,000 copies across all editions.