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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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  •  
    lori United States 03-11-14
    lori United States 03-11-14 Member Since 2011
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    "after 4 tries, it bored me to death."

    i tried to listen to this book several times hoping it would strike my interest and get better, however, i found my mind wondering and forgetting i was even listening to a book thats how UN-interesting it was to me. Sad really, because i wanted to learn something, anything at all, but it just wasn't happening.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    valihugs Mesa, AZ USA 03-09-14
    valihugs Mesa, AZ USA 03-09-14 Member Since 2004
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    "Rambling disjointed tromp through LR H's history"
    What was most disappointing about Lawrence Wright’s story?

    I couldn't make it all the way through this book. I got 80% through and had to stop wasting my time. It is a rambling account of things that may or may not have happened to L. Ron Hubbard and which may or may not have shaped Scientology. I was hoping for more and to gain some knowledge about Scientology. What I got was a book filled with facts that didn't go together in any logical manner and don't lead anywhere.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    There are some interesting facts in the book and there are some interesting perspectives on Scientology but it's not worth listening to all the worthless stories to get them.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tim TEMECULA, CA, United States 02-05-13
    Tim TEMECULA, CA, United States 02-05-13 Member Since 2003
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    "Evil Genius....Scientology Unveiled"

    A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away I worked on the same block as the London Headquarters of the Church of Scientology. Pretty much every day, often both too and from the subway station I was approached by cute young things seeking to inveigle me into taking a 'personality test' the first step into the religion. At the time I found this annoying but not actually sinister. Subsequently a couple of friends of mine did get involved peripherally with the organization and they told be horrifying, fascinating tales of how they were ruthlessly pursued for years after only a glancing encounter with the “Church.” Ever since then I have had something of a fascination with this mysterious and dangerous cult.

    This book gives a surprisingly even handed account of the life and times of the churches founder L Ron Hubbard, taking us from the it's foundation in the early fifties all the way to the couch-leaping massage-seeking antics of the Churches modern glitterati Tom Cruise and John Travolta. The story is a heady mixture or creepy cult and celebrity machine. It reveals a religion founded on fake science, fake psychology, the manipulation of the young and naive and that most addictive of all drugs… fame. The “Church” as painted in this well written and engaging book has overtones of Hitler’s Germany combined with Apple under Steve Jobs.

    It’s well sourced and thoroughly littered with footnotes from the “Church” which fiercely deny each and every well researched accusation and story. There are tales of hubris, violence, abuse which beggar belief. It exposed the weird practices and frankly ludicrous secrets of the organization, prompting the reader to ask over and again…”how could they get away with that?” Perhaps the strangest story is the account of how the Church took on the IRS and beat them at their own game.

    If you have ever pondered the weirdness which is Scientology this book will fill you in on the history and hagiography of what has to be the strangest and most successful invented religion since Mormonism. It’s a compelling, strange ride which will leave you shaking your head and maybe reaching for your rosary.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Phillip Arlington, TX 02-14-13
    Phillip Arlington, TX 02-14-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Stranger Than Fiction"

    I always knew Scientology had some strange beliefs. And just seeing the clips of Tom Cruise on Oprah and with Matt Lauer are enough to see that followers of the "Church" have some pretty strange ideas. But I had no idea how sordid a past Scientology has...and a present for that matter.

    If what Mr. Wright has written is true, and based on his thorough footnotes I'd say he is certainly on solid footing, then Scientology was founded by a paranoid delusional and currently run by a dictatorial madman. L. Ron Hubbard made so many outlandish claims about himself that had no basis in reality that it is dumbfounding that anyone would follow the religious tenets the man "discovered." And if his leadership weren't bad enough, the current leader, David Miscavige, is a maniacal tyrant who stoops to physically attacking any person he perceives may be questioning his authority.

    Scientology claims that those practitioners at its highest levels actually have the power to control matter, energy, space, and time. And at the same time they claim to be the only religion based entirely on true scientific principles. So guess what? Superheroes are no longer the realm of science fiction. You need only look to Tom Cruise and John Travolta to find men who can bend space and time to their will.

    Well researched and written, "Going Clear" offers a fascinating and jaw-dropping view inside one America's strangest religions. The book is both eye-opening and terrifying. To know that in America there is still an organization who can hold people against their will and force them into slave labor is unnerving. I recommend this book to anyone interested in modern religious study and definitely recommend it to anyone who may have a family member being drawn into this dreadful cult.

    6 of 8 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 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    ricketsj St. Paul, MN United States 01-18-14
    ricketsj St. Paul, MN United States 01-18-14 Member Since 2012
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    "So informative that I fear for Lawrence Wright."

    I bought this after hearing part of an interview with the author on public radio, and was so engrossed in it that I couldn't stop listening. While I knew a few things about Scientology, I knew next to nothing about L. Ron Hubbard, and it was fascinating to hear his history (particularly compared with the sanitized history put forward by the COS). Honestly, it was quite shocking to have to keep in mind that this man had somehow founded a powerful religion with a net worth in the billions. He frankly comes across (in his OWN WORDS) as a delusional, paranoid narcissist. I also recently read a book about Jim Jones and People's Temple, and I was really quite struck with the similarities between Jim Jones, L. Ron Hubbard, and David Miscavige. In fact, I found myself chuckling at the irony of L. Ron Hubbard having his empire more or less stolen by another charismatic charlatan.

    It blows my mind that so many people could buy into such weird ideas, or that any such belief could persist after the first instance of abuse that is described as affecting all but the high-priority celebrities. I had no idea the COS was so endemically homophobic, or that there was any connection between it and Prop 8.

    It was an eye-opening look at current celebrities and their relationship with the COS. I'm sure that Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Jenna Elfman, and others will be very upset about having some of their activities involving the Church detailed. (Travolta actually comes across as a fairly decent guy.) The story of the Church auditioning actresses for the role of "Tom Cruise's new girlfriend" was so sexist and appalling that I think I will henceforth refuse to ever watch another movie he's in. If it is in fact the case that he and other celebrities involved in Scientology are unaware of its abuses, it is only through willful blindness- and they should be ashamed of it.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Knight1649 Jefferson City, MO, United States 02-23-13
    Knight1649 Jefferson City, MO, United States 02-23-13 Member Since 2011

    I am a Clinical Medical Hypnotherapist with specialities in Auto Immune, PTSD, ADHD, Cancer, and Autism. I focus on very difficult cases.

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    "Fantastic in depth look at Scientology"
    Where does Going Clear rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This is one of the more interesting books I have listened to. The reason is the author in my opinion tried to be objective, neutral, and present both side of the story in a fair and balanced approach, and by the nature of the topic that is difficult to do.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    too many characters to mention


    Have you listened to any of Morton Sellers’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    no, but his voice is fantastic


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

    The overall structure. Regardless, if it is a religion or not, it is a business, and apparently a well oiled machine.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Max 02-22-13
    Max 02-22-13 Member Since 2011

    Max

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    "Fascinating"
    Would you listen to Going Clear again? Why?

    This was a captivating and fast moving book. It is impossible to digest all the information in one listening.


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

    19834


    If you could give Going Clear a new subtitle, what would it be?

    Fine line between brilliance and insanity.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael WALNUT, CA, United States 02-21-13
    Michael WALNUT, CA, United States 02-21-13 Member Since 2008
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    "A terrifying look into a dangerous cult"

    It's horrific how a group of bullies terrorize and profit from brainwashed members, all under the safe harbor of religion.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Collingswood, NJ, United States 02-20-13
    David Collingswood, NJ, United States 02-20-13 Member Since 2004

    Collingswood, NJ

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    "Eye-opening Account"
    Where does Going Clear rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This was one of the best recent books I've "read". The detailed research is unimpeachable.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    L. Ron Hubbard has to be my favorite character. His story is about as unbelievable as the pulp he wrote in the 1930s: science-fiction writer turned self-help guru turned messiah. You can't make this stuff up!


    What does Morton Sellers bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Sellers brings out and enhances the narrative. His tempo is perfect, allowing the listener to picture everything happening while never feeling like the story is dragging.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    The book made me laugh at the absurdity of Scientology, especially given the objective stance Wright gives to the religion. Wright goes to great lengths to place scientology in historical perspective. His epilogue examines Scientology in comparison to other religions, and he does a great job at explaining how questions of faith, from the perspective of someone outside the religion, always appear illogical and silly. This goes for Scientology as for Christianity. (Think of the virgin birth, for instance). And yet even with this disclaimer the belief system is so irrational, so unscientific (some events that the religion chronicles occurred before the beginning of the universe) that one has to chuckle at times when it is systematically described.

    Moreover, Hubbard himself, as his biography reveals, is a charlatan of charlatans - in the end, maybe, even fooling himself.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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