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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 (1874 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Memyselfhjb Arnolds park, ia, United States 04-08-14
    Memyselfhjb Arnolds park, ia, United States 04-08-14 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Speed it up home skillet"
    What did you like best about Going Clear? What did you like least?

    I have to say I gave up after two hours, I cannot believe the praise this book received as an audio book. Maybe in paperback where one could skip pages it would be decent but never in audio.


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    I don't know if it is informative, it seems that most people think so. I wanted to hear about the radical Scientology beliefs, but my attention span hated it so much I give up.


    What three words best describe Morton Sellers’s performance?

    Slow quiet boring


    Did Going Clear inspire you to do anything?

    Ha


    Any additional comments?

    I have listened to a lot of non fiction and I would have to say I normally agree with most reviews not this one. If you like to sleep get it and use it for pleasant white noise. Otherwise YouTube has some great ten to twenty minute clips on anything under the sun that is even slightly conspiratorial so hit it up.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kimberly 03-22-14
    Kimberly 03-22-14
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    "Interesting but laborious"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    Yes because relevant and revealing.


    Would you recommend Going Clear to your friends? Why or why not?

    Depends on friend's interest .


    What three words best describe Morton Sellers’s voice?

    Ok. Why use only one narrator?


    Do you think Going Clear needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    Not sure


    Any additional comments?

    No

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David WESTPORT, CT, United States 02-17-14
    David WESTPORT, CT, United States 02-17-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Enthralling and Well Written"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes


    What did you like best about this story?

    What I like most about this book is the neutral style of the author combined with what seems painstakingly deep research. It was as though he went through the topic with a fine toothed-comb. It is as though he grabs my hand and takes me through a multi-decade journey similar to how Scrooge is taken through his life by the "angels" in A Christmas Carol. It is seamless and well written. It seems as though it is fiction because it is so well written. I think this is an important story for many reasons. It points at the power of belief and the power for new religions to take shape in this world. I walked away from this understanding why people are drawn to Scientology and understanding its founder was brilliant and charismatic, etc., but also understanding how some people in the church, including its founder, appear to have done some pretty nasty things to people. This happens in other religions, as well, and it gave me pause to question the one I was raised in - Catholicism. This is a really amazing book. I hope many people read it.


    Any additional comments?

    I'm very grateful to the author for taking the time to research and write this book. It is a courageous thing to do. I think many people will benefit from it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Scott USA 02-17-14
    Scott USA 02-17-14 Member Since 2010

    “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies…The man who never reads lives only one.” (George R. R. Martin)

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    "Delusions of Grandeur Come True"
    Any additional comments?

    I don’t know how true the information in this book is – but it’s pretty fantastical and a bit frightening. It’s hard to tell whether Hubbard was a con man or a schizophrenic – or a bit of both. Delusions of grandeur run rampant here as do schizophrenic tendencies and paranoia – which is what it seems Scientology itself has become –as portrayed by author Lawrence Wright. The level of research that the author has undertaken here is impressive and he attempts to give a fair estimation of both sides – though it is a bit outweighed – which is to be expected, given the material. I haven’t read much of Hubbard’s early days and there is a good amount of interesting detail here. Narrator Morton Sellers does a terrific job with solid narration. Overall, I felt this was a truly fascinating listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kate Santa Barbara, CA, United States 02-10-14
    Kate Santa Barbara, CA, United States 02-10-14 Member Since 2015
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    "Fascinating story"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes--it is an interesting story about a still-mysterious "religion".


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

    "Inside Scientology" by Janet Reitman which I listened to 3 years ago. It was about Scientology and had some of the same stories/history, but was less about the Hollywood perspective.


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

    The story and history itself is so frustrating because "they" seem to get away with so much, even with the government, by terrorist-type tactics.


    Any additional comments?

    Well-written.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Phyllis C. Hall FL 02-02-14
    Phyllis C. Hall FL 02-02-14 Listener Since 2010

    Phyllis H.

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    "Well writtent and balanced view"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    This gives a "biography" of the etiology of the church of Scientology, a topic I was curious about since I have heard so much in the press about it especially with movie star involvement. The author presents a balanced view with comparisons to other new religions. The fact check information at the end was especially interesting.


    What about Morton Sellers’s performance did you like?

    The reading performance was eloquent.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Teresa United States 01-15-14
    Teresa United States 01-15-14 Member Since 2010
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    "Fascinating..."

    I was curious about this book and then, once I started listening could not stop. Extremely well done - both the writing and the performance. If you have any curiosity about Scientology, you should check this out!

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Helios Houston, tx 01-05-14
    Helios Houston, tx 01-05-14 Member Since 2014
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    "I couldn't put it down."
    Where does Going Clear rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Its in the top tier of the many audiobooks I've listened to.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The stories of Hubbard and Miscavige were both fascinating to listen to.


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

    Sometimes, the absurdities I heard made me burst out laughing. Many times I would just pause it and say something like, "Wow. I can't believe it. Did I just hear that? That's crazy!"


    Any additional comments?

    There are so many characters involved, so its hard to keep track of them. There are many stories that get revisited from different perspectives or to add new information. Its part of the appeal, but also makes it a bit challenging to keep up with everything. However, this book definitely has re-listen value to it. I know there are many things I missed. This is not due to the author. It is due to the complexity of Scientology. Indeed, the book tells the fascinating life stories of many people and simultaneously defines Scientology to the audience. It is a tall order for any author. I will listen to this one again.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Crusader Palm Springs, CA, United States 11-18-13
    Crusader Palm Springs, CA, United States 11-18-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Awesome book regarding Scientology!"

    Perhaps my favourite of three books on Scientology abuse that I have listened to back-to-back over the past few months.

    The author does a good job of documenting the history of Scientology, its eccentric (and I am being kind) founder L. Ron Hubbard, its celebrity connections in Hollywood, and the repeated physical and mental abuse by the church on its own members!

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amy Hyde Park, Morocco 11-15-13
    Amy Hyde Park, Morocco 11-15-13 Member Since 2014

    Avid listener and reader! Favorites are crime, mystery, thriller and paranormal. Medical science and some non-fiction as well.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wrong Title"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    Yes I would because it is very interesting to read about the upper hierarchy of Scientology and it's evolution.


    Would you be willing to try another book from Lawrence Wright? Why or why not?

    Yes It was well researched and written.


    What about Morton Sellers’s performance did you like?

    He has a pleasant voice, it has good pitch.


    Did Going Clear inspire you to do anything?

    NO!


    Any additional comments?

    This book is really a biography of L Ron Hubbard and not very much about Hollywood as the title would make one believe. It also differs from other books about Scientology in that it is about the executives and the upper tier of members running the Church. Other books are written by younger x-Scientologists for example and paint a different picture of this world. I found that reading this along with other books from different perspectives helped me really understand this religion which I was very curious about.It is a bit horrifying at times to believe these things are occurring in modern society and also how strongly people are "taken in" for lack of a better phrase. So cult like, I am almost afraid to write a review!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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