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A Glimpse Into the Life of L. Ron Hubbard

[Picture]  M
r. Dan Sherman was no stranger to many in the audience when he took the stage on March 14. But what he had to say was very new—unlike anything anyone present had heard before.

     Sherman is known not only for his popular novels of past years but for his contributions to numerous publications which detail various aspects of L. Ron Hubbard’s life and work, titled the “Ron” series. He has been at work researching and writing the definitive biography of Mr. Hubbard for more than half a decade—the manuscript of which already spans more than 1,000 pages and draws on literally mountains of correspondence, diaries, photographs, recently de-classified documents from government files and other material.

     He explained that he hoped to give the audience a sense of Mr. Hubbard’s life and accomplishments “from the standpoint of his forthcoming biography—only this time, permitting the manuscript to actually speak for itself.”

     What followed were samplings from the larger work Sherman has been conducting on Mr. Hubbard’s biography, much of it information which had only recently been uncovered from original documents and through interviews and other research—and none of it previously published or heard inside or outside the Church. It was lively and engaging throughout, accompanied by photographs and film footage displayed on a stage-wide screen as Sherman spoke.

     It included facts and anecdotes even pre-dating Mr. Hubbard’s birth, through his youth in the Far West, his travels in the Far East, his early searches for wisdom and enlightenment, and his observations and experiences concerning a subject he was loath to discuss himself—the Second World War, where Mr. Hubbard served as an officer in the U.S. Navy.

     Mr. Hubbard did not dwell on the war, Sherman explained, because it was “antithetical to all he stood for”; but, as his biographer, Sherman was compelled to research and compile the most complete account of what Mr. Hubbard did, what he saw, what he thought and what he felt during this century’s darkest chapter.

     While there were many stories that could have been told, Sherman singled out a few which were illustrative of the “tales not told” concerning Mr. Hubbard’s life. One involved his time on the island of Java “in search of stockpiled weapons and fast, shallow-draft vessels.”

     “Now conceivably, there were more perilous islands on which LRH [L. Ron Hubbard] might have landed,” said Sherman. “If, for example, he had joined MacArthur’s troops on Corregidor this story would conclude pretty quickly. But short of those islands already in the Emperor’s purse, as the phrase went, Mr. Hubbard could have hardly picked a worse place to visit than Java in the closing days of February 1942.

     “As he so nonchalantly put it, ’I met some people who were not on my side.’ To which I might add, he was basically referring to the primary flank of the Japanese Imperial Army, which, in turn, explains his next remark: ’We had to leave the battle.’ The only problem was, he had missed the last departing allied aircraft on March 6th, and was only able to escape the island after scrambling into a rubber raft and paddling out to meet an Australian destroyer.”

     Sherman concluded the anecdote by putting it in perspective. “The real point of these pages does not lie with his seventy-two depth-charge runs, the slivers of shrapnel he took in the chest or his molding of a criminal crew into sailors described as the finest in the fleet,” he said. “The real point of these years lies in how he viewed this war, and what that view tells us about him.”

     That view was best summed up, Sherman said, in the words of some of the crew who served under Mr. Hubbard during the war and whose views were sought for the biography. Sonar-man Phil Beers for example, said Sherman, still describes Mr. Hubbard as the singularly most caring individual he has ever known and “an officer and a gentleman long before Congress decided so.”

     That message was central to all Sherman told the audience, and there was little doubt when he finished that those who watched and listened “knew” Mr. Hubbard better than they ever before had. “I’ve read a lot about L. Ron Hubbard’s life in the past,” said Allan Bowles, who saw the event in East Grinstead, “but hearing these extracts from the biography and knowing this is the first completely documented account of his life makes it much clearer how he managed to do everything he did and how he ended up researching and developing a subject like Scientology. He definitely lived and had an ability to get down to the basic truth of whatever he turned his attention to.”

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