Review by Bill Franks
A review of “Commodore’s Messenger : A Child Adrift In the Scientology Sea organization”
Book One 1953-OCTOBER 1970
BY Janis Gillham Grady
Janis Gillham Grady, very ably pulls her readers into the adventures of the true first family of Scientology-the Gillham family. Her book, written in the first person, is chronicled from the perspective of Janis as a young girl embarking into the unknown world of the sea, sailors, and salt water. The first of a series, this book offers a first rate account of the beginnings and inner workings of the Sea Organization. Within her narrative, Gillham captures all the excitement and anticipation fueled by L. Ron Hubbard’s promise for adventure to all those daring enough and tough enough to “make the grade” or “many are called, few are chosen”.
It is pure fun to read about the legendary exploits of the Sea Org, for whether it’s tales of L. Ron Hubbard’s Whole Track Project or the original Hubbard Exploration Company (Janis’ mom Yvonne was a charter member) Janis makes them sparkle with the youthful curiosity and enthusiasm of the day. The same is true of her description of the fabled March 1968 Liability Cruise the infamous shake down cruise, captained by Mary Sue, where everyone was learning how to run and maintain the Royal Scotman.
Janis’ book prompts the reader to re-evaluate with the reminder that not all Sea Org experiences were a total disaster. The inchoate Sea Org Janis describes becomes a Band of Brothers and Sisters through and because of both good and hard times. Her engrossing descriptions give cause to remember a time when a young person’s dream of being part of something BIG, bigger than oneself, promised a life that would be completely transformational.
As an ex member of the “aristocracy of Scientology”, see Flag Order #137, it is my pleasure to highly recommend this book. Janis skillfully captures the adventure of the early formation of Hubbard’s fantasy project. Though Hubbard’s daunting undertaking eventually evaporated, as all mirages do, there is no denying that for a short period it enthralled all its members with the daunting prospect of taking on civilization and changing it for the better.
So, a big thanks to our author for reminding us of our young, idealistic selves. Book one leaves us eager to read more in volume 2.