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Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief | [Lawrence Wright]

Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief

A clear-sighted revelation, a deep penetration into the world of Scientology by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the The Looming Tower, the now-classic study of al-Qaeda’s 9/11 attack. Based on more than 200 personal interviews with both current and former Scientologists - both famous and less well known - and years of archival research, Lawrence Wright uses his extraordinary investigative ability to uncover for us the inner workings of the Church of Scientology.
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Publisher's Summary

A clear-sighted revelation, a deep penetration into the world of Scientology by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the The Looming Tower, the now-classic study of al-Qaeda’s 9/11 attack. Based on more than 200 personal interviews with both current and former Scientologists - both famous and less well known - and years of archival research, Lawrence Wright uses his extraordinary investigative ability to uncover for us the inner workings of the Church of Scientology.

At the book’s center, two men whom Wright brings vividly to life, showing how they have made Scientology what it is today: The darkly brilliant science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, whose restless, expansive mind invented a new religion. And his successor, David Miscavige - tough and driven, with the unenviable task of preserving the church after the death of Hubbard.

We learn about Scientology’s complicated cosmology and special language. We see the ways in which the church pursues celebrities, such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta, and how such stars are used to advance the church’s goals. And we meet the young idealists who have joined the Sea Org, the church’s clergy, signing up with a billion-year contract.

In Going Clear, Wright examines what fundamentally makes a religion a religion, and whether Scientology is, in fact, deserving of this constitutional protection. Employing all his exceptional journalistic skills of observation, understanding, and shaping a story into a compelling narrative, Lawrence Wright has given us an evenhanded yet keenly incisive book that reveals the very essence of what makes Scientology the institution it is.

©2013 Lawrence Wright (P)2013 Random House Audio

What the Critics Say

“Brings a clear-eyed, investigative fearlessness to Scientology . . . a rollicking, if deeply creepy, narrative ride, evidence that truth can be stranger even than science fiction." (The Washington Post)

“A hotly compelling read. It’s a minutiae-packed book full of wild stories.” (The New York Times)

“An utterly necessary story. . . . A feat of reporting.” (The Wall Street Journal)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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Performance
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  •  
    Assaf Lavie 10-30-14
    Assaf Lavie 10-30-14
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    "Illuminating and hard to put down"
    If you could sum up Going Clear in three words, what would they be?

    Scientology is scary.


    Any additional comments?

    I went into this book thinking that scientology is some weird, relatively harmless religion. It is not. It's as terrifying as it is ludicrous.
    The book works hard be factual and unbiased, providing comments from people and organizations mentioned.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    George K. 10-15-14
    George K. 10-15-14

    Riverrunner, Powderhound, Pizzaiolo, Mountainbiker, Fisherman, Dzedo to James

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    "Scientology-The Inside Scoop"

    This is first rate reportage specifically about Scientology but generally also about faith based belief by one of our best investigative journalists. Is Scientology a religion? a cult? a commercial enterprise? What is the difference? What is the role of religion and celebrity in contemporary American life? These are central questions in this excellent book. There's a lot of Hollywood gossip packed in it too which makes for an easy read/listen. The wacky underpinnings of Scientology are explored and juxtaposed against more conventional faith based creeds and the listener is left to question how, and to what extent, Scientology is any wackier than traditional (conventional) religious forms. The Scientology leadership comes across as lacking all credibility, which is not to say that the reportage is biased. In fact, Wright goes out of his way to give Scientology a fair shake. He reveals the extent to which Scientology has recruited many intelligent, sincere and accomplished believers. He also reveals that the system has helped more than a few people live better lives. Yet he does not shy away from revealing Scientology's dark side which he convincingly derides as a "prison of belief" which has led to the subjugation of many of its less celebrated adherents. Tom Cruise figures prominently in the book. His symbiotic relationship with Scientology is revealed at great length. Given Scientology's propensity to sue and its history of intimidation, Wright, Knopf and the New Yorker deserve Kudos for publishing this important work. I thought that Sellers' narration was good but nothing exceptional.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ladyface 09-27-14
    Ladyface 09-27-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Fascinating topic, dull writing"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    The extent of Wright's research is impressive but he somehow made an engrossing subject...boring. It begins as a chronology of the founding of the church and then devolves into a catalogue of abuses. If there's an abridged version that might be worth listening to.


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    The first person accounts.


    Was Going Clear worth the listening time?

    No. An abridged version might be.


    Any additional comments?

    I wanted to like this book. I really liked the first half but it just went on and on and became monotonous.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Memyselfhjb Arnolds park, ia, United States 04-08-14
    Memyselfhjb Arnolds park, ia, United States 04-08-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Speed it up home skillet"
    What did you like best about Going Clear? What did you like least?

    I have to say I gave up after two hours, I cannot believe the praise this book received as an audio book. Maybe in paperback where one could skip pages it would be decent but never in audio.


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    I don't know if it is informative, it seems that most people think so. I wanted to hear about the radical Scientology beliefs, but my attention span hated it so much I give up.


    What three words best describe Morton Sellers’s performance?

    Slow quiet boring


    Did Going Clear inspire you to do anything?

    Ha


    Any additional comments?

    I have listened to a lot of non fiction and I would have to say I normally agree with most reviews not this one. If you like to sleep get it and use it for pleasant white noise. Otherwise YouTube has some great ten to twenty minute clips on anything under the sun that is even slightly conspiratorial so hit it up.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kimberly 03-22-14
    Kimberly 03-22-14
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    "Interesting but laborious"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    Yes because relevant and revealing.


    Would you recommend Going Clear to your friends? Why or why not?

    Depends on friend's interest .


    What three words best describe Morton Sellers’s voice?

    Ok. Why use only one narrator?


    Do you think Going Clear needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    Not sure


    Any additional comments?

    No

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David WESTPORT, CT, United States 02-17-14
    David WESTPORT, CT, United States 02-17-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Enthralling and Well Written"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes


    What did you like best about this story?

    What I like most about this book is the neutral style of the author combined with what seems painstakingly deep research. It was as though he went through the topic with a fine toothed-comb. It is as though he grabs my hand and takes me through a multi-decade journey similar to how Scrooge is taken through his life by the "angels" in A Christmas Carol. It is seamless and well written. It seems as though it is fiction because it is so well written. I think this is an important story for many reasons. It points at the power of belief and the power for new religions to take shape in this world. I walked away from this understanding why people are drawn to Scientology and understanding its founder was brilliant and charismatic, etc., but also understanding how some people in the church, including its founder, appear to have done some pretty nasty things to people. This happens in other religions, as well, and it gave me pause to question the one I was raised in - Catholicism. This is a really amazing book. I hope many people read it.


    Any additional comments?

    I'm very grateful to the author for taking the time to research and write this book. It is a courageous thing to do. I think many people will benefit from it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Scott USA 02-17-14
    Scott USA 02-17-14 Member Since 2010

    “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies…The man who never reads lives only one.” (George R. R. Martin)

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Delusions of Grandeur Come True"
    Any additional comments?

    I don’t know how true the information in this book is – but it’s pretty fantastical and a bit frightening. It’s hard to tell whether Hubbard was a con man or a schizophrenic – or a bit of both. Delusions of grandeur run rampant here as do schizophrenic tendencies and paranoia – which is what it seems Scientology itself has become –as portrayed by author Lawrence Wright. The level of research that the author has undertaken here is impressive and he attempts to give a fair estimation of both sides – though it is a bit outweighed – which is to be expected, given the material. I haven’t read much of Hubbard’s early days and there is a good amount of interesting detail here. Narrator Morton Sellers does a terrific job with solid narration. Overall, I felt this was a truly fascinating listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kate Santa Barbara, CA, United States 02-10-14
    Kate Santa Barbara, CA, United States 02-10-14 Member Since 2015
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    "Fascinating story"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes--it is an interesting story about a still-mysterious "religion".


    What other book might you compare Going Clear to and why?

    "Inside Scientology" by Janet Reitman which I listened to 3 years ago. It was about Scientology and had some of the same stories/history, but was less about the Hollywood perspective.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The story and history itself is so frustrating because "they" seem to get away with so much, even with the government, by terrorist-type tactics.


    Any additional comments?

    Well-written.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    P. Hall FL 02-02-14
    P. Hall FL 02-02-14 Listener Since 2010

    Phyllis H.

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    "Well writtent and balanced view"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    This gives a "biography" of the etiology of the church of Scientology, a topic I was curious about since I have heard so much in the press about it especially with movie star involvement. The author presents a balanced view with comparisons to other new religions. The fact check information at the end was especially interesting.


    What about Morton Sellers’s performance did you like?

    The reading performance was eloquent.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Teresa United States 01-15-14
    Teresa United States 01-15-14 Member Since 2010
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    "Fascinating..."

    I was curious about this book and then, once I started listening could not stop. Extremely well done - both the writing and the performance. If you have any curiosity about Scientology, you should check this out!

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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