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
“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)
Well researched, organized, balanced, and articulated book telling of the life of L Ron Hubbard, the founder of the Church of Scientology, his family, the genesis, evolution, and beliefs of the Church of Scientology, and the lives of many within the church including well known celebrities. The Epilogue is worth listening to/reading more than once.
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.
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.
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.
Workaholic who makes time for great books.
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.
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.
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.
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?
12 step program please. I am addicted to Audible! I love trashy sexy books, award winning novels and everything between. Bring it!
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!
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.
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!
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.....
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!!
No. I wouldn't listen again because I heard and understood it well the first time. I listened to become better informed.
Knowing L. Ron Hubbard--his type, the nature of his charisma, his bombastic personality, his fertile imagination, his relative lack of integrity--helps a lot to understand scientology. Later Miscavige takes the ball and runs with it, adding his own tyrannical personality to the science fiction narrative doctrine of the "religion," its rituals and sacraments. I'm so glad I never succumbed to the pitch when I was younger and potentially more vulnerable.
It was well written, abundantly documented, and read with confidence by Morton Sellers. Lawrence Wright was able to penetrate further and more widely than many earlier journalists were able to do.
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..."
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