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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

4.4 (2297 )
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4.3 (2023 )
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Performance
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  •  
    K. J. Ryan 04-21-15
    K. J. Ryan 04-21-15
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    "Going to re-read"

    Terrifically well written, engaging, and nicely paced. Narration was a bit slow, but it was kind of fitting for the story, which includes many unknown terms for non-Scientologists.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Charles Denver, Colombia 04-18-15
    Charles Denver, Colombia 04-18-15
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    "Fascinating history of a recent religion"

    Loved this book. Reminded me a lot of the books Double Down and Game Change. Lots of unflattering details and anecdotes that are both corroborated and disputed by several sources that are all appropriately cited and footnoted within the book. Most memorable throughline was reading about Paul Haggis joining and ultimately loudly leaving the church. Some of the greatest passages in the book came during some of the final paragraphs that describe the growing pains of any new religion, and the way that several others - Islam, Mormonism, the Amish, to name just a few - have survived and evolved long enough to be seen as more than inventions or forgeries or hotbeds for violence and instead are often rightly appreciated for the insights they have to offer, the values they espouse, and the traditions they try to pass on.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Margaret United States 04-17-15
    Margaret United States 04-17-15 Member Since 2010
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    "Outstanding Investigative Journalism"

    A comprehensive, evidence-based case against the corrupt (and certainly violent and probably sociopathic) leader of Scientology. And a compassionate, empathetic look at the motivations of ordinary Scientologist. The author makes a well supported case that most Scientologists are good people following their religious beliefs. Many of them, especially those involved with Seaorg, are certainly exploited and probably abused. The founder, L. Ron Hubbard comes across as a sincere yet disturbed charlatan. The current leader, David Miscavage, has a dark and corrupt history full of and manipulation. control of the organization is troubling. It is also deeply troubling how many celebrities in Hollywood refuse to take a critical look at this organization.

    The narration is competent and understandable but monotone in the extreme making the data heavy narrative sometimes slow going.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gift Card Recipient 04-16-15 Member Since 2015

    Rooster

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    "Excellent read"

    Highly recommend it! Great flow, very informative and a good inside view of Scientology and its history. Good springboard to the HBO documentary too.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brad 04-10-15
    Brad 04-10-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Best info on Scientology"

    most the stuff in this I already knew but it did shed some light on LRH and who he was. if you want to learn about Scientology, this is the best book to read

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Deshawn 04-08-15
    Deshawn 04-08-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Groundbreaking"

    This was my first ever audiobook. I loved the experience. The book was informative and I felt I personally knew characters.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    04-07-15
    04-07-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Fair and balanced book!!"

    Outstanding and very even-handed account of an extremely dangerous group of narcissists preying on people who truly want to better the world. Highly recommend!!!!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Virginia Dawn 04-05-15 Member Since 2013
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    "Well Done"

    You know all those stories you've heard or maybe only half heard about Scientology? This book puts it all into context with a single, clear chronology. Worth going through more than once just to get all the people straight.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    debra 04-02-15
    debra 04-02-15
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    "Scary.. But real"

    Good story line, well read, awful content!!!!!
    Thank you for the epilogue .. It brought so much to my understanding of the cult.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Spencer Little 04-02-15
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    "Scared the heck out of me but it was fun."
    Would you listen to Going Clear again? Why?

    Someday I will listen again to remind myself why not just religions but any system of belief (even not religious) can go crazy and become a case of the lunatics take over the asylum.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    This book is a cautionary tale not only about how belief systems can go wrong but also about how organizations can go wrong if the crazies are allowed to have their way.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    This book scared the heck out of me but it was worth it. I learned a lot about the things to watch for in organizations when they go bad. Bad behavior tends to lead to more bad behavior unless something stops it. And if bad behavior comes from the top it pervades the organization until it goes rotten.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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