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)
Retired university lecturer. Photographer, writer, voice talent by avocation. Love reading, but sometimes audio is better
This story of Scientology certainly needs to be told. The story of L.Ron Hubbard's invention of a religion is as fascinating as the story of Mormonism as detailed in Krakauer's Under the Banner of Heaven. LRH was quoted, as he contemplated a career, "religion, that's where the money is."
If anything, Going Clear may be more alarming simply because of its appeal as a success system. Scientology seems only to claim itself as a religion when the tax man comes around. Other than that there is no prayer or actual scripture or claim of having a God, for that matter. Once a prospect signs the contract to be loyal for one billion years and starts investing the money to study the writings of a science fiction author, he/she is hooked.
Hubbard's claims to have been a war hero during WW2 were so silly. Early on he bragged about his wounds and medals (he was never in battle or wounded and had medals that were not real (Purple Heart with palm cluster??) or even invented until after the war - gee, like no one could check these things.) His claim to having a four year college degree was just as silly.
Well, all of this is for the reader/listener to think about. The list of celebrities in Scientology is interesting.
The reader, Morton Sellers, seemed to be plodding through the book with little interest or enthusiasm. Given the subject matter, this is understandable, but it does make the book longer. He was clear and precise.
I already have recommended this book to a few friends.
It's a great look in to one of the big question marks in religions in my book.
I enjoy reading about religions, especially ones with cult like qualities... So books over Scientology fit the bill for me. This particular book was extremely well written. I had read some of his articles before so I was looking forward to his book. Not disappointed.
I really enjoyed the New Yorker piece on Paul Haggis and his decision to leave Scientology (by the same author) which was the precursor to this book. Going Clear did not disappoint. It is a very well written (and reasoned) account of Scientology and the individuals who have profited from it and those who have suffered terribly at their hands.
While it's easy to ridicule some elements of Scientology, the author carefully avoid this - preferring to point out that pretty much all religions have supernatural themes and don't stand up to scientific rigour. Having said that, it's hard to walk away from this book without harbouring negative feelings towards the individuals that have used Scientology to exploit, harm, harangue and destroy others. This is the book that David Miscavige does not want you to read! Highly recommended.
I gained a deep knowledge of the history of Scientology without the open disdain. The story facts spoke for themselves. The performance was direct and without unnecessary inflection or acting.
The history of the church's founding and of LRH
It's an interesting story in a completely train-wreck way. The time-line bounces all around during this story, which is really my only complaint.
The Scientology organization as described in this book is very, very disturbing. I can't believe that they have a tax exempt status.
No - one's enough.
I *will* absolutely listen to this book again. As a kid, I was a big fan of LRH's sci-fi writings, and was peripherally exposed to the Church of Scientology and their 'religious tech'. When I was a teenager, I met some former Scientologists who were more than happy to tell me about the way things really worked in the church. I always thought they were either exaggerating or outright lying to me. As it turns out, they weren't even scratching the surface of the madness.
What made this story so fascinating is that there are literally dozens of times throughout the book that I found myself knowing that the things being said were absolutely true and documented, while at the same time thinking the stories are so fantastic and bizarre that there was no way they could possibly have happened. The cognitive dissonance is both pleasing and troubling. Unfortunately for the Church of Scientology, their very litigious nature, while protecting their inner secrets for years, also left trail of court documents miles long.
I can't really call it my "favorite" scene, but I think the most revealing scene is the period of time that the budding Church of Scientology spent at sea. The misadventures of the group, along with Hubbard's decent into psychosis is fascinating. It was the culmination of his lies and the perfect opportunity for him to allow his delusions of grandeur and persecution complex to run wild and destroy people's lives. Although this is tied with the tragic death of one of his children.
The most interesting aspect for me was L. Ron Hubbard's involvement with Jack Parsons and the "Babalon Working".
Great book for it's genre
The New American Horror Story Called Scientology
After hearing about Scientology for SOOO long, I always wondered what was really true about this religion. After reading the reviews and discovering this Author's street cred, I figured this would be a great book to learn more about Scientology. Man alive, I'm very happy I did.
The author starts at the very beginning of L Ron Hubbards life, which was very insightful. Getting all of that backstory really helped segue nicely into the birth of Scientology, as it made a lot more sense as to why LRH, I'm an old pro at that Acronym now, created Scientology.
The bottom line is if you ever wondered what Scientology is all about, or if you are thinking about joining, this should be a must listen to. The author gives you all the information that he could find, and could be verified by any researcher, without making it droll or adding too much of his own commentary to flavor the story line. This books can have a tendency to become tedious after a while, but I never felt distracted or bored throughout the entire book. The author did a good job in how he presented the information and how he constructed the timeline.
I went in knowing virtually nothing about Scientology, and now I've come out feeling much more informed and I'll tell you , Scientology terrifies me. Scientology itself seems ludicrous, but if it helps people and doesn't hurt anyone in the process I'm all for it. If you look at other religions around the world, they all have their bizaare dogma, and Scientology is not any different.
The most frightening aspect of Scientology is not the religion itself but two other items. The first is how crazy L Ron Hubbard actually was, and how the current leadership is completely insane. This book really illustrates how LRH was such a prophetic liar, but because he was so charismatic, he was able to snow people throughout his entire life.
The second bit of craziness is how the current leader of the church, David Miscavige, is a psychotic masochist. He has essentially hijacked Scientology and uses it as his personal playground to assuage his masochistic tendencies. I can't tell you how many times I daydreamed about meeting this guy in the streets and beating him to a pulp. Imagine Napoleon mixed with Hitler, and it gives you a sense of what he's all about. I actually feel sorry for any Scienotlogist, because regardless of what you think about their religion, they don't deserve to have someone like this use their beliefs as a weapon against them to get away with whatever he wants to do.
I would recommend this to anyone who is interested in learning anything abotu Scientology, as it was a great listen and highly informational.
My only knowledge about Scientology was driving by their building in Los Angeles and seeing tabloid gossip.
I had NO idea what a crazy group this was.
The book takes you from the beginning of L Ron Hubbard's life to when he wrote science fiction, to when he decided to start a new "religion," to the rise of the "church," to Tom Cruise's marriage with Katie Holmes. (I wonder how the book would have addressed the breakup.) I didn't realize there was a Scientology group who rode the high seas and that there were different "bases" in the United States.
Although their beliefs aren't much different than any other religion, the group is friggin' scary. They hold church members "prisoner" if they do not follow certain standards and they chase down members who leave.
The book gives good examples of how normal people would get caught up in this craziness and crazy became normal.
This is a spellbinding book read by an excellent narrator. It was both frightening and fascinating and didn't want to put my iPod down. It was well researched and well written and I would highly recommend it.
Thought it was going to be a mild ride through about a wacky cult/religion. I was completely overwhelmed by the history and present day activities of Scientology and its leaders. Completely engrossing and well told. Far darker than I expected. Just awesome.
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