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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

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  •  
    Jami E. Nettles Columbus, MS USA 01-30-13
    Jami E. Nettles Columbus, MS USA 01-30-13 Member Since 2005
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    "Well researched and fascinating."

    Great job, thorough research. I was captivated with the bizarre Scientology history, which is so interesting, but also now feel like I have a much better synthesis of this cult. Wonderful read.

    12 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    CHET YARBROUGH LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, United States 10-18-14
    CHET YARBROUGH LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, United States 10-18-14 Member Since 2014

    Faced with mindless duty, when an audio book player slips into a rear pocket and mini buds pop into ears, old is made new again.

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    "GOING CLEAR"

    Without vilifying any one religion, Scientology, like all organized religions, is a belief system manufactured by man. Lawrence Wright, a Pulitzer Prize-winning American journalist, writes an informative, titillating. and believable book about Scientology. After listening to “Going Clear”, the human failings of Scientology are stripped bare with a force as explosive as the abuse of parish children by Catholic’ priests. The many testimonials of Scientologists that say Scientology “improved their lives” infers some value in its teachings; however, like all organized religions, it is subject to human failings. No organized religion in recorded history has been without human failure.

    Wright names the names of the most famous Scientologists with Tom Cruise and John Travolta at the top of the list. But, he also explains why lesser lights, like Kirstie Alley, Anne Archer, Greta Van Susteren, continue to follow the religion. What makes the story more interesting is why some of the early members are leaving; i.e. Paul Haggis, Bruce Hines, and possibly, Tommy Davis, a wealthy follower and former spokesman for Scientology.

    Wright amplifies interest by revealing secrets of the religion, some of its leader’s alleged violence, and mysteries of disappearing members.

    Where will Scientology be 100 years from now? Will Hubbard’s myths become a gospel of truth or will Scientology fall into the dustbin of history’s failed cults?

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mon San Francisco, Ca 10-06-14
    Mon San Francisco, Ca 10-06-14 Member Since 2010

    12 step program please. I am addicted to Audible! I love trashy sexy books, award winning novels and everything between. Bring it!

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    "Further proof the Scientology is WHACK!"
    Where does Going Clear rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This is one of the most informative audiobooks I've listened to. Lawrence Wright's book tries to explain Scientology's hold in Hollywood and why seemingly "normal" people get involved with the religion. He does a very good job telling this story by first taking you on Paul Haggis' journey, then introducing you to countless people, in many cases former high ranking officials, who have been abused in one way or another by the church. It's a page turner!


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

    There were enough moments of physical and emotional abuse that left me saddened. Sometime last year I read Jenna Miscavage's Beyond Belief and she also detailed lots of abuse so Lawrence Wright's expose wasn't surprising. However, what is surprising is how this abuse is sustained and ignored. It's ignored by the government and ignored by fellow Scientologists. I was left feeling disgusted. David Miscavage, and to some degree Tom Cruise should be in jail for sanctioning this unethical and abusive behavior.


    Any additional comments?

    Lawrence Wright writes with a sympathetic ear. I was impressed because he could have easily written a tongue and cheek expose and had a "told ya so" point of view, especially when story after story detailed similar endings. He doesn't do that, instead he tries to point out facts and patterns through the use of individual story telling. I felt sad then MAD for these folks. Most spent their entire lives, and life savings, sacrificed friendships and family, only to be dropped by the church when they asked too many questions, didn't agree with the church, or didn't follow orders. It's a terrible religion - there is no way around that. Obviously many people have found the teachings useful, but I'm sorry, the ends do not justify the means. Everyone should read/listen to this book. It's that good!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Raleigh greensboro, NC, United States 06-12-14
    Raleigh greensboro, NC, United States 06-12-14 Member Since 2009
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    "scientology is the answer to what question"

    are you a life long resident of southern california ?
    are you curious about john travolta and tom cruise ?
    can science fiction and pseudo religion really intersect ?

    well, lawrence wright has written a strong willed book for you
    his previous book was about the rise of al-queda
    i suspect that was good preparation for this current effort

    scientology's mildly talented founder was layfette ronald hubbard
    sadly, he died as a morbidly obese, chain smoker living in a trailer
    sounds a little more like west virginia than transcendent world leader

    mr. hubbard is clearly no match for mr. wright's keen, lawyerly insights
    documenting and dissecting scientology's flaws comes easily to mr. wright
    in the end, i was left wondering just who would find scientology appealing ?

    insecure, narcissistic and not terribly bright people seem to be its' main target
    i don't want to be unkind, but that covers about 1/2 of southern californians
    scientology's appeal to struggling actors and celebrities is almost intuitive

    in the years to come, i suspect there will be more and similar exposes
    the campy and mercenary aspects of scientology will be too hard to pass up
    as one reviewer said, mr. wright should be applauded for "...outing a bully..."







    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
  •  
    Phillip Arlington, TX 02-14-13
    Phillip Arlington, TX 02-14-13 Member Since 2013
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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.

    7 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Romano 01-06-15
    J. Romano 01-06-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Provocative"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes, from start to finish I found the book fascinating. From who L Ron Hubbard was to scientology itself up through the current regime of the Church; it was more interesting than I imagined it would be. The author tried to present the Church as fairly as possible, although at times that is a difficult thing to do. I would listen to it again.


    What about Morton Sellers’s performance did you like?

    Seller's gave one of the best performances I have heard who was not the actual author of the book.


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

    I would have loved to have just sat and listened to the book from beginning to end, but since I listen during my daily commute that was not possible. I did however, listen both to and from work, which I typically do not do.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark Twain 01-04-15
    Mark Twain 01-04-15 Member Since 2014

    Mark Twain

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    "Default audio player functionality is Terrible."
    Would you try another book from Lawrence Wright and/or Morton Sellers?

    Lawrence Wright is excellent as usual


    Any additional comments?

    Get a new audio player. You can't even reverse on this one. Just terrible functionality.

    Great book.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sergio Cubillos 01-03-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Fantastic Book"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Going Clear to be better than the print version?

    I don't know. I just listened to it. I'm sure I would enjoy the book equally, by reading it.


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    The fact that there are people wrongfully imprisoned for the sake of "saving the planet". It's Ludacris!


    Which character – as performed by Morton Sellers – was your favorite?

    Spanky Taylor. Very well performed.


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

    Yes. I was extremely surprised that this type of organization has lasted as long as it has and continues to tear families apart, exploit the lives of devoted followers, and the false imprisonment of both their liberty and beliefs.


    Any additional comments?

    Lawrence Wright not only enlightens the reader but also supports his findings on this controversial religion.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Leona 12-04-14
    Leona 12-04-14 Member Since 2013

    Workaholic who makes time for great books.

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    "In depth disclosure of a mindless cult."
    What made the experience of listening to Going Clear the most enjoyable?

    The history of L Ron Hubbard, and the current COB was really interesting. It is amazing how lost the people who join Scientology are. They take abuse because they must think they deserve it. It is so obvious from the outside that LRH was making this up as he went along.


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

    I found myself anxious to finish because the facts keep coming, and when you think it couldn't get any worse, Miscavage shows you he has no shame.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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