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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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  •  
    J. Simonton Texas, USA 06-11-13
    J. Simonton Texas, USA 06-11-13 Member Since 2012

    Fun Happens

    HELPFUL VOTES
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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
  •  
    Richard Weaverville, NC, United States 04-24-13
    Richard Weaverville, NC, United States 04-24-13 Member Since 2011

    Writer, Reader, Former Bookseller (RIP Borders)

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    "An excellent study - Journalistic and engaging"

    Very engaging. Well researched. I like the way he laid out his case and the order that he presented the information. A fascinating study that I found thoroughly intriguing.

    Narration is perfect.

    The author successfully demonstrates the oft forgotten truth that members of cults are victims, not wackos-- and he shows the process by which intelligent and reasonable people are ensnared into brainwashing institutions, and why they choose to stay.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Leslie Newhall, CA, United States 04-14-13
    Leslie Newhall, CA, United States 04-14-13 Member Since 2014
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    "Couldn't stop listening..."

    wow. and....wow.

    This was a fascinating listen! Footnotes added an additional layer of interest, although the responses from Scientology spokespersons were almost comical in their consistent and collective amnesia. I live in Los Angeles where Scientology has its headquarters and Celebrity Center. I will never again look at this organization the same way again- as sort of wacky, but benign.

    Absolutely worth the credit!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer MANCHESTER, NH, United States 04-12-13
    Amazon Customer MANCHESTER, NH, United States 04-12-13 Member Since 2001
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    "TRUTH REVEALED"
    Any additional comments?

    OT Vlll aka "Truth Revealed" is the highest level of Scientology.
    Read or listen to this book and save time and a half a million dollars.
    The stunning facts about Scientology will truly set you free.
    Hubbard says the suppressive person goes undetected for a very long time!
    David Miscavige is so busted and so is L. Ron Hubbard. Would be interesting to ask "COB" "What is your ruin?"

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Leah 04-04-13
    Leah 04-04-13

    chicagomom

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    "Amazing and shocking"
    What did you love best about Going Clear?

    This is a page turner - I sped up the reading to 1.25 to get through the book more quickly. There are some real jaw-dropper moments that blew my mind. Many of the anecdotes are appalling. But it is very, very thorough and well-researched. The narrator is excellent. This is one of the best non-fiction books I've read in a very long time.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Hearing about David Miscavige is like rubber necking on the highway. You want to look away but can't.


    What about Morton Sellers’s performance did you like?

    Emphatic voice, lovely tone, very listenable


    Any additional comments?

    I wanted to start a book club and found two other friends to listen to this as well. You do not want to experience this book without having another person to talk to - so much of it is really intense that it helps to share the moment with others.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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