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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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  •  
    Victor 08-25-13
    Victor 08-25-13 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "L. Ron Hubbard is a bastard."
    Would you listen to Going Clear again? Why?

    Yes, it was incredibly informative.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Going Clear?

    When you realize that L.Ron Hubbard wasn't just a science fiction writer, but a complete scumbag dictator oppressor.


    What about Morton Sellers’s performance did you like?

    The narration was pretty good. I would have preferred George Guidall... but that's always the case.


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

    It was a long book, but I liked the part where L. Ron Hubbard is in the Navy and attacks a log at sea.


    Any additional comments?

    If you want to really know what Scientology is all about, listen to this book.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steve 08-08-13
    Steve 08-08-13

    British Broadcaster, Photojournalist and member of LDS living in Canada.

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    "Worth reading."
    Would you consider the audio edition of Going Clear to be better than the print version?

    No. As an audio book it suffers from poor narration and a total lack of inflection making it slightly less captivating than listening to child reading from the New York telephone directory. Perhaps they should have had Tommy Davis narrate it?


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    L. Ron Hubbard. Why? Because he first published what was to become the basis for Scientology back in 1950. Back then it was little more than a treatise he entitled "Dianetics" but it was to become much more than that. Love him, loathe him, flimflammer or modern day prophet L. Ron Hubbard was certainly not your average man.


    What didn’t you like about Morton Sellers’s performance?

    His lack of inflection. That said, the book was "clearly" not writen for the spoken word.


    What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

    How to generate recurring revenue.


    Any additional comments?

    This book provides a "clear" insight into not only the birth of Scientology, but the life of the man who started it all. It's well written, mostly unbiased and an example of how truth can sometimes be stranger than fiction.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    T. Hodgson Philadelphia, Pa 07-30-13
    T. Hodgson Philadelphia, Pa 07-30-13 Member Since 2012

    Avid audiobook listener and reader. I work in the tech industry, but like to go outside my comfort zone with fiction and non-fiction.

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    "Fascinating and Informative From Start to Finish"
    What made the experience of listening to Going Clear the most enjoyable?

    The history of L Ron Hubbard was interesting. I had no idea how much of a "player" the man was, which is hard to believe considering how odd looking he is.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Going Clear?

    Learning how David Miscavige took over the leadership role and punished those who did not fall in line.


    Any additional comments?

    The book was highly enjoyable to listen to and I feel much more informed about Scientology.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rhonda Lyons, GA, United States 07-22-13
    Rhonda Lyons, GA, United States 07-22-13
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    "I wouldn't stand a chance in this cult"
    What did you love best about Going Clear?

    I couldn't stop listening and for the life of me, I couldn't help but think how I would already be placed in a closet to die because I can't understand how anyone could allow themselves to be controlled by another person...especially if that person was mean to me.....(I'm very rebellious). I'm warning you now, this book will stir your brain cells to boiling!! Love'd it!!


    What did you like best about this story?

    How I was right all along about Tom Cruise.


    What about Morton Sellers’s performance did you like?

    Oh he was good...especially during the parts when he had to quote someone in anger....he kept it real.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Well yea! But who in the world has time for that???


    Any additional comments?

    No. What else do you want me to say....??? Except, I wonder if Lawrence Wright feels like he's being watched from the shadows....I know I would.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nicholas PASCO, WA, United States 07-08-13
    Nicholas PASCO, WA, United States 07-08-13 Member Since 2015

    I have a hard time reading/listening to true fiction books. I think this is because my main reason for reading is to learn and not necessarily just for enjoyment, although I do read many historical fiction books. Favorites history/biography books and science/tech info books.

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    "A creepy rabbit hole of a prison religion!"
    Any additional comments?

    Love how much actual first hand knowlege Lawrence Wright got from former high ups in scientology to put into this book. Also like how he describes a lot of the wierd beliefs these people have but didnt make fun or criticize the beliefs, only criticized the human rights violations the church has committed. Someone can look at any religion and find all kinds of wacky things about it, but this one ruins your life if you try to escape it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Arthor Cambridge, MA United States 07-05-13
    Arthor Cambridge, MA United States 07-05-13 Member Since 2011

    Musician, die hard atheist. Father of two. Photoshop hacker.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Charlatanism Made Clear"
    What made the experience of listening to Going Clear the most enjoyable?

    While exhaustive this book managed to avoid being exhaustive.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Difficult to like anyone in this book though the few who had the will and courage to break with the church do inspire.


    Would you listen to another book narrated by Morton Sellers?

    Yes/


    Any additional comments?

    Perhaps the most important question for humanity to ask itself: why do we believe what we believe. This book is certainly provide much food for thought on that question. While it doesn't explicitly come to a conclusion it does lay out an important case study (so to speak) about how a charismatic personality can entrance a significant number of people despite glaring contradictions in that person's behavior and teachings.

    This is a world up to it's eyeballs in bunkum, some of it malicious, but much of it stemming from desires that are all to easy to relate to. We want some sort of control over our lives. We all want to have a light shown on the best path forward. And these desires blind us.

    Though it seems not the purpose of this book, I found myself disgusted and repelled by the key figures in the church, certainly by L Ron himself. But, and this is to the credit of the book, also sorry for him. Perhaps therein lies the rub.

    This book is well worth the read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Debra Garfinkle 07-02-13

    author of books for teens and children

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fascinating"

    This is an extremely well-researched book about L.Ron Hubbard's life, the history of Scientology, and present-day Scientology. I knew that Scientology was a nutty cult and that Tom Cruise was a pompous idiot, but after reading this book I found out that Scientology was also very frightening and powerful and that Tom Cruise was also a total a-hole.

    This audiobook--with its accounts of Hubbard's history of wife-beating and child kidnapping, the horrible abuse and jail conditions inflicted on many people by Scientology leaders, and the huge amounts of money and property held by Scientology leaders--is horrifically frightening. Truth really is stranger than fiction.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    California Sun 06-30-13
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    "Fascinating book, horrible narrator."
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    Lawrence Wright did an amazing job with this book, that reads like the best of suspense meets roman å clef meets psychological thriller. Really, it is fascinating.

    The huge fail is Audible's choice of a narrator who will in turn either put you to sleep or irritate you with his propensity to pronounce all "wh-" words as though they are "hwh-" words. "Hwhere", "hwhat", and all the rest where he inserts a completely unnecessary "h" at the beginning of the word was just so, so irritating. To the point that I'm considering returningn it to Audible in the way of a protest against their choice of narrators which, when it's not the author, are often really poor.

    But Lawrence Wright is a powerful, perfectly polished writer and I was glued to my iPhone for the entire 17+ hours that this book's narration takes.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Seriously? OK, since no scientologist can be a favorite character, it has to be Lawrence Wright, then.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Morton Sellers?

    Lawrence Wright. At least he has a grasp of what he was wrote.
    I'm sure there are other good narrators out there; Morton Sellers is not one of them. Could he be more monotone? And of course as I mentioned about, the "hwhere", "hwhat", "hwhich" are enough to drive one batty.


    What character would you cut from Going Clear?

    Actually I would add more dissenters.


    Any additional comments?

    Nope.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sean MINNEAPOLIS, MN, United States 06-26-13
    Sean MINNEAPOLIS, MN, United States 06-26-13
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    "Fascinating and entertaining"
    What made the experience of listening to Going Clear the most enjoyable?

    Morton sellers does an excellent job relaying a large amount of information in a very enjoyable way. Be sure to listen to it out loud while working around people you don't want to talk to. They will leave you alone thinking you are listening to a recruitment tape and might ask them to join up.


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

    The revelations about Tom Cruise are astonishing yet not surprising.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Saud 06-23-13
    Saud 06-23-13

    Learn, understand, then decide whether you accept or reject.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Interesting look at an enigmatic movement"

    All I knew about Scientology before I started reading this book was the "space opera" mythos it subscribes to. This audiobook does a good job of investigating the movement in ways that aren't overtly biased. I learned about the motivations of the movement, their internal politics and how it has changed since foundation.

    You'd be surprised, and occasionally horrified, at the things that were done in the name of Scientology.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
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