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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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  •  
    Ooopsie! WEST NEW YORK, NJ, United States 02-03-13
    Ooopsie! WEST NEW YORK, NJ, United States 02-03-13 Member Since 2011

    I just follow the signs!

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    "Amazing !"

    Very well investigated book on scientology ! Must read for everyone who are interested in understanding a human's need to be part of something and how that need can be taken advantage of by other humans who seek to exploit that need for their own profits.

    I feel sorry for all the scientologist who dedicate their life to Hubbard. How can these people who believe in science cannot see there is nothing scientific about scientology is beyond comprehension. But this books does give an insight to human conditioning and the power of influence.

    14 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    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.

    15 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Beach Lover San Diego, CA United States 08-21-14
    Beach Lover San Diego, CA United States 08-21-14 Listener Since 2007
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    "Truth is stranger than fiction."
    Where does Going Clear rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Exceptionally well researched history of Scientology and it's founder. I knew almost nothing about L. Ron Hubbard's early years, and it is amazing that his ideas ever took hold among intelligent, well educated and wealthy individuals. Even more surprising is that people continue to "believe" in this cultish "religion" despite the lack of evidence, and despite verified evidence of enforced servitude of members and fraudulent claims about the universe. But... they have learned from the best... Christianity, Mormonism, Islam, etc.....


    Any additional comments?

    This book is very detailed, and may be offering more than some readers want. I would encourage readers, however, to stick with it. No where else will you receive such complete documentation of the evidence. Furthermore, as a student of comparative religions, I found it an enjoyable read... something often missing from nonfiction. I agree with the NY Times review that Wright tried to be "fair"... "just the facts, mam". For those of you interested in the Scientology we know today, you won't be disappointed with revelations about Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Paul Haggis, and other famous Scientologists.

    Essential reading for those skeptical of organized religion!!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    KJB Colorado & Oxfordshire 05-24-14
    KJB Colorado & Oxfordshire 05-24-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Knowing Scientology"
    What did you love best about Going Clear?

    Lawrence Wright knows how to write! This is yet another stupendous work showing that Wright is worthy of yet another Pulitzer.


    What did you like best about this story?

    This is meticulously researched, carefully crafted, and stunningly written exposé that compels readers and listeners forward as clarifying prose cascades over one's consciousness and through one's imagination. Wright points up both the humanity and inhumanity of Hubbard, his minions, and his successor.


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

    "The Personalities, the Power, and the Politics" • I think one of the most significant features of Wright's exposé is how Miscavige was able to pressure a massive government agency to waive the large part of a massive tax penalty and grant a religious tax exemption. But he succeeded in pulling this off. It is this constellation of corruption and cover up that begs, absolutely begs, for its own exposé.


    2 of 2 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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Max 02-22-13
    Max 02-22-13 Member Since 2012

    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.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    kristin FUQUAY VARINA, NC, United States 02-12-13
    kristin FUQUAY VARINA, NC, United States 02-12-13
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    "All I can say is....WOW!"

    I would definately listen to this book again. It does jump around a little and I did rewind it to make sure I was following. I used to be a huge fan of Tom Cruise and always wondered what it was about Scientology that literally made him fall off his rocker. Well this book explains it all. A lot of what you'll read about Scientology on the internet is what they want you to read also, this book gets right into the truth from when this crazy religion was created from the very begining by Ron L. Hubbard. It also tells you how much of Hollywood is behind Scientology. It's very interesting to just find out what really went on, or goes on. Great listen!

    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 2006
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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.

    10 of 13 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.


    4 of 5 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.

    8 of 11 people found this review helpful

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