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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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  •  
    California Sun 06-30-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fascinating book, horrible narrator."
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    Lawrence Wright did an amazing job with this book, that reads like the best of suspense meets roman å clef meets psychological thriller. Really, it is fascinating.

    The huge fail is Audible's choice of a narrator who will in turn either put you to sleep or irritate you with his propensity to pronounce all "wh-" words as though they are "hwh-" words. "Hwhere", "hwhat", and all the rest where he inserts a completely unnecessary "h" at the beginning of the word was just so, so irritating. To the point that I'm considering returningn it to Audible in the way of a protest against their choice of narrators which, when it's not the author, are often really poor.

    But Lawrence Wright is a powerful, perfectly polished writer and I was glued to my iPhone for the entire 17+ hours that this book's narration takes.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Seriously? OK, since no scientologist can be a favorite character, it has to be Lawrence Wright, then.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Morton Sellers?

    Lawrence Wright. At least he has a grasp of what he was wrote.
    I'm sure there are other good narrators out there; Morton Sellers is not one of them. Could he be more monotone? And of course as I mentioned about, the "hwhere", "hwhat", "hwhich" are enough to drive one batty.


    What character would you cut from Going Clear?

    Actually I would add more dissenters.


    Any additional comments?

    Nope.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sean MINNEAPOLIS, MN, United States 06-26-13
    Sean MINNEAPOLIS, MN, United States 06-26-13
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    "Fascinating and entertaining"
    What made the experience of listening to Going Clear the most enjoyable?

    Morton sellers does an excellent job relaying a large amount of information in a very enjoyable way. Be sure to listen to it out loud while working around people you don't want to talk to. They will leave you alone thinking you are listening to a recruitment tape and might ask them to join up.


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

    The revelations about Tom Cruise are astonishing yet not surprising.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Saud 06-23-13
    Saud 06-23-13

    Learn, understand, then decide whether you accept or reject.

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    "Interesting look at an enigmatic movement"

    All I knew about Scientology before I started reading this book was the "space opera" mythos it subscribes to. This audiobook does a good job of investigating the movement in ways that aren't overtly biased. I learned about the motivations of the movement, their internal politics and how it has changed since foundation.

    You'd be surprised, and occasionally horrified, at the things that were done in the name of Scientology.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rodell 06-19-13
    Rodell 06-19-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Eye opening story of this frightening "religion""
    Would you consider the audio edition of Going Clear to be better than the print version?

    Yes because I listen while I drive


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

    None I can think of


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

    When they discussed the murders they are suspected of being involved in & the calculating plans and steps taken to intimidate former members, joirnalists and any outspoken opponents.


    Any additional comments?

    Be preparred to give up your Tom Cruise movies...I can't bring myself to watch any of them anymore...I have no respect.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Simonton Texas, USA 06-11-13
    J. Simonton Texas, USA 06-11-13 Member Since 2012

    Fun Happens

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    "Chilling and Informative"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Going Clear to be better than the print version?

    I have not read the print version, but I was drawn to the audio version as I think the print version might lost my attention.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Going Clear?

    When they discussed the people who have gone missing and are believed to be imprisoned on church owned compounds. It really gave me a spooked feeling to know this is taking place in the US today.


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

    Have not listened to any other Morton Seller performances but I did enjoy his reading.


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

    All the Scientology lingo was interesting. I have heard several people use this vocabulary before but had no diea what they were talking about.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paulien Irvine, CA, United States 05-26-13
    Paulien Irvine, CA, United States 05-26-13
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    "Most encompassing book ever on Scientology"

    Lawrence Wright reveals precisely what Scientology doesn't want its members and the public at large to know. It makes this book an extremely valuable contribution to whoever wants to know what Scientology is really about.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jan Raleigh, NC, United States 05-20-13
    Jan Raleigh, NC, United States 05-20-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Well-Researched, But Pointless"

    It's a collection of memoirs, interviews and diary entries, stitched together with little in the way of narrative, or common thread. There are a lot of incredibly trivial details of the lives of minor celebrities and other people associated with Scientology, tangentially or directly. There is certainly a wealth of "information" here, but very little of it is enlightening, and even less is entertaining, especially in the audiobook format. The reader's delivery is competent but very dry. I found myself skipping entire chapters, which I seldom do.

    I guess I learned something, and Scientology remains a peculiar and elusive topic. This book could have been perhaps a third of its current length, added some sort of consistent narrative thread, and have handled the topic just as well while being a better book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Divine Ms K San Diego, CA 05-08-13
    Divine Ms K San Diego, CA 05-08-13 Member Since 2010

    I love books (history and fantasy especially), animals, guns, motorcycles, walking in the rain (okay, just kidding about that one)... someone who strives to be a life-long learner.

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    "A book not soon forgotton"
    What made the experience of listening to Going Clear the most enjoyable?

    This book sometimes seemed like watching a horrible traffic accident - you don't want to watch and yet you can't turn your eyes away. The story had so many levels -Though primarily and ostensibly about the history of Scientology, this book is about so much more - religious freedom, first amendment rights, personal freedoms, how and why we make decisions, the power of groups... I will be thinking about this book for a very long time.


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

    I don't typically read books like this (evaluations of modern day societies etc.) as I'm usually afraid they will be extremely biased and sensational. If I had to make a comparison it would be to " Under the Banner of Heaven" by Jon Krakauer.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Probably the meeting with the author (with his publisher and the publishing house lawyers) and Tommy Davis (and the Scientology lawyers) prior to the publishing of an article he was writing for the New Yorker (which was the basis for this book).


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

    There were actually two: 1) the extent of the Church's wealth and 2) the number of members who are people in the "arts"


    Any additional comments?

    It is also well written and researched (it has excellent footnotes) and provides as balanced approach as possible considering the subject matter.The narrator was a good choice for this books and while he didn't necessarily enhance my enjoyment of the book, his narration did not detract from it.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    ashley evans 05-03-13 Member Since 2014
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    "Couldn't Stop Listening"

    A shocking expose that's not only fascinating, but very well researched. This book really leaves you wondering how Scientology can survive, now that the church's dark side has been revealed. The more members that leave (escape), the more disturbing information comes to light.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anthony United States 04-28-13
    Anthony United States 04-28-13 Member Since 2013
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    "Prepare to be depressed"

    Going clear is one of those listens that starts interesting then gets very hard to listen to. Not through any fault of the material or the reader. No the problem comes purely from the story your hearing. The first part of the book is the story of LRH life and times and the founding of Scientology. Next we hear about the methods of Scientology and it's early history.

    It's all very interesting stuff and full of gripping detail as we hear about how LRH married and discarded wives as some men buy and throw away boots. But then the book takes a turn for the worse. Again I must emphasis the book does not become more poorly written but the story itself takes a turn for the worse and keeps getting more depressing.

    Imagine if you take the first forty minutes of The Blues brothers and then splice in any bombastic drivel like Pearl Harbor then end on the last twenty minutes of Grave of the Fireflies You see the church built, you laugh at their antics but then the Sea org is founded and we see what LRH builds his church out to be and we see the stories of those who join the church at a young age... As LRH gets older and eventually dies everything gets worse. Day by day, week by week the more the misery mounts. And that's not even going into Operation Freakout or Snow White.

    So my advice if you want to understand Scientology, this is the book to give you the story warts and all.

    Footnote:The footnotes are mostly hilarious but not intentionally so, gotta love lawyers.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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