In 1971 Paulette Cooper wrote a scathing book about the Church of Scientology. Desperate to shut the book down, Scientology unleashed on her one of the most sinister personal campaigns the free world has ever known. The onslaught, which lasted years, drove her to the brink of suicide. The story of Paulette’s terrifying ordeal is told in full for the first time in The Unbreakable Miss Lovely, published by Silvertail Books in London. It reveals the shocking details of the darkest chapter in Scientology’s checkered history, which ended with senior members in prison, and the organization’s reputation permanently damaged.
“A brilliant exposition of how a child who escaped the Nazis grew up to be hunted by the Church of Scientology” – BBC journalist John Sweeney
“A page-turner packed with barely believable facts. The details are worthy of John le Carre” – Jon Atack, author of A Piece of Blue Sky
Nathan Rabin, The A.V. Club: “Before Tony Ortega’s The Unbreakable Miss Lovely, Cooper’s story had never been told in full. It is one of the most remarkable and unlikely narratives in the sprawling field of Scientology exposés. Ortega’s specialty is his ability to contextualize Cooper’s soap-opera life within the raging currents of history. Cooper embodied her times: She was a child of World War II and the Holocaust, an orphan of one of the 20th century’s greatest tragedies who grew up to be the epitome of the chic New York career woman…Scientology’s persecution of Cooper comes to feel like a strange echo of the Watergate controversy riveting the nation at the same time. People who profess to be the victims of sinister, far-reaching conspiracies are often seen as crazy, but Cooper genuinely was the victim of a sinister, far-reaching conspiracy…In the kind of twist that fills The Unbreakable Miss Lovely and makes it such a compulsively readable page-turner, Cooper discovers too late that, like far too many people in her life, [L. Ron] Hubbard Jr. (or “Nibs” as he was known) was not what he appeared to be, and was probably a double agent working against Cooper on Scientology’s behalf…Cooper should have been destroyed by Scientology. But she proved astonishingly brave and bold. The book’s title proves appropriate both because Cooper is model gorgeous but also unbreakable, with a spirit strong enough to stand up to an entire organization out to destroy her and everything she stands for. In that respect, the book is oddly inspiring.”
Kirkus Reviews: “Ortega, in his nonfiction debut, describes a journalist’s decadeslong battle against the Church of Scientology. There have been assertions of horror stories involving the Church of Scientology in a plethora of books, articles, documentaries, and interviews with ex-members. This new account focuses on Paulette Cooper, one of the first journalists to investigate what many see as the questionable moral practices of L. Ron Hubbard’s religion—and one of the first people, he says, to become a target of its vengeance. In a 1969 article in Queen magazine and later in a 1971 book, The Scandal of Scientology, Cooper offered a damning exploration of the church and its practices. “More than previous writers,” notes Ortega, “Paulette focused on the harassment of those who dared to speak up about Scientology, whether they’d been in the church or not.” In response to her words, Ortega says, the church set out to destroy her life with an unprecedented yearslong campaign of litigation, defamation, intimidation, and harassment that pushed the journalist nearly to the point of suicide. In Cooper, Ortega finds the perfect foil to what he portrays as the secretive, suppressive machinations of Scientology: she’s a nearly archetypical newshound, savvy and scoop-obsessed, with a colorful history of committing fully to her work. For example, Ortega shares one anecdote of Cooper stowing away on a cruise ship for the sake of a travel piece, hiding in plain sight and stashing a change of clothes in a barroom piano. This book is far from just another look into the familiar, if terrifying, alleged tactics of the Church of Scientology; it’s a profile of a fascinating reporter making her bones and taking her lumps in the fickle world of 1970s magazine journalism. Plucky, self-possessed, and fearless in the face of the many threats–legal and otherwise–against her reputation and person, Cooper is a figure whose name is worth knowing. A thrilling account of a reporter’s duel with a controversial church.”
A recent Amazon 5-star review: “I started the book during a vacation to Florida and my wife started reading it out loud while we drove. We both got hooked and the book kept us entertained during the entire trip to and from Florida. We were spellbound and had a hard time putting the book down. It was great entertainment. I’ve been curious about the Cult for many years and this book enlightened me.”
Copies of the paperback version of ‘The Unbreakable Miss Lovely’ are on sale at Amazon. The Kindle edition is also available, and ships instantly. And now Audible has released the audiobook version, read by the author [US version] [UK version].
Paulette Cooper’s story in photographs
We didn’t get a chance to include photos in our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely, so we’re posting them here at the Underground Bunker. We’ve created a dedicated page for them.
(Photo: Paulette and her adoptive father, Ted Cooper. From Paulette’s personal collection.)
Reader Sookie put together an index for The Unbreakable Miss Lovely and we’re hosting it here on the website.
Our book tour is concluded for now. We’ll let you know about future appearances. Previous events: Santa Barbara (5/16), Hollywood (5/17), Orange County (5/17), San Diego (5/20), San Francisco (5/22), New York (6/11), Chicago (6/20), Toronto (6/22), Clearwater (6/28), Washington DC (7/12), Hartford (7/14), Denver (7/17), Dallas (7/20), Houston (7/22), San Antonio (7/24), Austin (7/25), Paris (7/29), London (8/4), Boston (8/24), Phoenix (9/15), Cleveland (9/23), Minneapolis (9/24), Portland (9/27), Seattle (9/28), Vancouver BC (9/29), Sydney (10/23), Melbourne (10/25), Adelaide (10/28), Perth (10/30)
Our May 17 appearance at the Steve Allen Theater in Hollywood, just two blocks from Scientology’s Los Angeles headquarters, sponsored by the Center for Inquiry-West…
Media appearances for The Unbreakable Miss Lovely
Paulette Cooper and Tony Ortega sat down with local New York TV legend Marvin Scott to record a show about the book that was also posted to the station’s website in three parts…
May 18 taping with Allison Hope Weiner and Media Mayhem…
Mandy Stadtmiller’s podcast…
Daily Beast, May 11, “Scientology’s First Victim” by ML Nestel: “The book is a wallop of a read and Cooper is presented as sympathetic, tragic, and, for a brief bit, unreliable, as she allegedly plots against the Church in her own way. But Ortega also makes some incredible claims that seem to rely upon deep reportage, tracking down people Ortega identifies as long-lost Scientologists and weaving their testimonials into a gripping narrative.”
Skeptic, “Scientology’s Worst Abuses Against a Journalist Revealed” by Jim Lippard: “By tracking down sources no previous investigator had interviewed, digging into neglected documents, and with some help from individuals who have left Scientology as well as from his subject, Ortega has written the definitive account of the lengths to which Scientology went in its ultimately failed attempts to destroy Paulette Cooper.”
OC Weekly, May 13, “Tony Ortega: From Cal State Fullerton Student to One of Scientology’s Best Watchers” by Gustavo Arellano: “The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology Tried to Destroy Paulette Cooper is already receiving rave reviews for its well-written, wonderfully reported narrative about one of the first journalists to take on the controversial religion.”
Jose Lambiet: “The book details the years when Cooper got sued 19 times by the space alien-loving church made famous by Tom Cruise and John Travolta. There was also the time when she was indicted by the federal government for making bomb threats after, she says, church henchmen stole her stationary and used it to write a bomb threat against the church. Cooper’s travails eventually brought her to the brink of suicide.”
South Florida Sun-Sentinel: “Leah Remini, an actress who is one of Scientology’s most famous ex-members, came out to meet Cooper during the California book tour at a party hosted by Spanky Taylor. Taylor, another famous defector of Scientology, appeared in Gibney’s documentary [Going Clear].”
In the afternoon on May 15, during prime drive time, we had a great experience with Jillian Barberie and John Phillips at KABC 790.
Australian radio in advance of Going Clear opening there.
The Silvertail original announcement of the book…
London-based Silvertail Books is to publish The Unbreakable Miss Lovely by Tony Ortega, the story of the life of author Paulette Cooper, the most famous victim of the Church of Scientology’s notorious and ruthless ‘Fair Game’ retaliation schemes.
Ortega, the former editor-in-chief of The Village Voice, spent two years working with Cooper, interviewing her and reviewing her personal papers, as well as interviewing dozens of people, many of whom have never spoken publicly before, in order to piece together this stunning account of what it can cost someone to unearth Scientology’s secrets.
His sources include witnesses to Cooper’s harassment and, in a few cases, people who took part in it. Those interviews, as well as documents which have never been previously made public, provide the first full telling of what Paulette Cooper experienced — from her childhood in a Nazi concentration camp, to her life as a New York magazine writer, to becoming the most famous target of Scientology’s revenge.
Silvertail Books previously published BBC journalist John Sweeney’s book, The Church of Fear: Inside the Weird World of Scientology, and last year brought Russell Miller’s landmark biography of Scientology’s founder, Bare-Faced Messiah: The True Story of L. Ron Hubbard, back into print for the first time in 27 years.
Silvertail publisher Humfrey Hunter said: “A lot of people have been waiting a long time for Tony Ortega to write a book about Scientology and The Unbreakable Miss Lovely will not disappoint. It is an extraordinary story of terrible things done to a woman who did not deserve them and shines a light into the darkest corner of the history of the Church of Scientology. Tony has done a wonderful job with the narrative – the story reads like a thriller. This is an outstanding work of investigative authorship by a very fine journalist and I’m delighted Silvertail is to be his publisher.”
Tony Ortega has written about Scientology as a journalist for nearly 20 years, and began working with Paulette Cooper about her life story while he was still at the Voice. Ortega appears in Alex Gibney’s HBO-produced documentary about Scientology, Going Clear, which premieres at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah on January 25, and he will be in attendance.
Silvertail bought world rights directly from the author and will publish in paperback and ebook in May 2015 in the US and the UK.
In the late 1960s, an ambitious young journalist had a bizarre encounter with a Scientologist, who claimed to be God and then tried to sexually assault her. Her curiosity was aroused. She was eager for unusual stories, and soon became an expert on the strange cult of Scientology. Paulette Cooper was a vivacious go-getter. She was also a Holocaust baby, who had survived against all odds and been adopted by an American couple. She went on to publish one of the most important accounts in the field – The Scandal of Scientology.
Paulette and I have been friends for many years, drawn together by our mutual experience of the vindictive nature of the Scientology “church.” I survived 16 years of harassment, but horrifying though my experiences were, they pale in comparison to the onslaught that Paulette survived.
Tony Ortega is the worthy successor of Paulette Cooper’s hard-hitting investigation of the cult. I have worked with perhaps 200 journalists in the last 30 years. A very few have proved to be resilient, despite the cult’s invidious practices. No one has done better work than Tony. Anyone who has told the truth about Scientology knows that there is little in the way of glory to be had, and no financial benefit. We stand up, because we are appalled at the abuses of this enslaving cult. Tony’s tenacity is a marvel.
Under the direction of its malignant creator, L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology developed an intelligence agency second only to the infamous KGB in its infiltration of western government agencies. The Guardian’s Office was a formidable and fanatical organization, which campaigned relentlessly to protect Hubbard from prosecution and successfully dissuaded or ruined most of Scientology’s critics. Paulette Cooper was a prime target. She was preyed upon by agents, who inserted themselves into her private life and referred to her as “Miss Lovely” in their reports. She was framed for a bomb threat and indicted. She was subjected to a whispering campaign, where her neighbours were assured she was a child molester. The attack was relentless and very nearly caused her to take her own life.
Tony Ortega tells the story of this remarkable woman and of the invidious organization that tried to destroy her. He tells the story of the Guardian’s Office, an intelligence organization that penetrated the US government and was able to subvert US policy to the extent that Scientology was ultimately granted religious status and tax-exemption.
Eleven Scientology officials, including Hubbard’s wife, were given prison sentences in a campaign that had included kidnapping, false imprisonment, breaking and entering, theft and the forgery of government credentials. Almost forty other Scientologists, including Hubbard, were named as co-conspirators in this case.
The details are worthy of John Le Carre, and Tony has created a page-turner that is packed with barely believable facts – all soundly based upon the admissions offered by the conspirators themselves in court proceedings. Tony fleshes out my own brief description, in Let’s sell these people A Piece of Blue Sky, with startling information. This book is a must read for anyone who is interested in this most fascinating of groups, or in the nature of intelligence agencies.