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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

4.3 (1323 )
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  •  
    ashley evans 05-03-13 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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 2005
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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 2009

    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 2005
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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
  •  
    Docintherock Denver, CO 04-04-13
    Docintherock Denver, CO 04-04-13 Member Since 2012

    Doc

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    "Wild Ride Through the World of Scientology!"

    Didn't know much about Scientology until I read this book. I saw the "South Park" episode about it and that was about it.

    This book seems well researched and it is entertaining. Not sure if everything this guy says is true. But it is a great book and a great read. I don't have a dog in the fight so I don't care one way or another about Scientology but this book was a very fun listen.

    This book covers Scientology from the beginning with LRH (L Ron Hubbard) to present day. Interesting stories about something called the "Sea Org" and also about many celebrities and writers that are practicing Scientologist.

    I would recommend this book to anyone studying religion or that wants to find out more about Scientology.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David West Valley City, ut, United States 04-02-13
    David West Valley City, ut, United States 04-02-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Fog of religion"
    Would you listen to Going Clear again? Why?

    After years of gathering information from a variety of sources, Lawrence Wright does a great job of shining a light on the belief system. The story unfolds to reveal the power that celebrity has lent to Scientology and the entitlement held by the celebrities and the upper echelons of Scientology.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan PUNTA GORDA, FL, United States 03-25-13
    Susan PUNTA GORDA, FL, United States 03-25-13 Member Since 2011

    Profesionl, hard working woman who travels weekly, enjoys life. My best Friends are Michael and Scooter. Nonfiction books are the best!

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    "WOW"
    Would you listen to Going Clear again? Why?

    Sure, I Guess It a was a book good


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

    This is the first book I have read on Scientology and it is so scarry, real! I will read more on the subject, but why? I can't believe how stupid and gulible people are.


    What about Morton Sellers’s performance did you like?

    Good voice!


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

    That Scientology is all about the Money and so are Movie Stars!!!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Allen 03-24-13
    Allen 03-24-13

    Retired university lecturer. Photographer, writer, voice talent by avocation. Love reading, but sometimes audio is better

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Important Story - The telling gets a little long"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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