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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 (2161 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Spencer Little 04-02-15
    ratings
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    45
    1
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    Story
    "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
  •  
    Richard D. Ross Seattle, WA 04-01-15
    Richard D. Ross Seattle, WA 04-01-15 Member Since 2012

    Dickard

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    3
    2
    Overall
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    "This Reader is Kakan"

    A bad reader ruins a great book faster than an SP injects body thetans into a PTS. But when I heard this guy talk I was immediately just like ... pffft. Great tone, speed, articulation, perfect. This man is Kakan.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jim N Chicago, IL 03-31-15
    Jim N Chicago, IL 03-31-15 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Unsettling and Compelling"

    Wright paints a very ugly picture of Scientology, it's founder, L. Ron Hubbard and more than a few people associated with the cult. I found the book simultaneously fascinating and depressing, because despite some of the dark, disturbing places it goes, it's truly interesting and informative. The "Prison of Belief" is an appropriate phrase to include in the title because many of the people described in the book really seem to be prisoners of their own fanatical devotion to a strange religion founded by troubled former pulp science fiction writer. It's hard to believe Hubbard could inspire the devotion he inspired. It speaks to the desperation many of us have to understand the world and ourselves as well as to our ability to blind ourselves to what we don't want to see.

    The book some of the celebrities associated with the cult in a very unflattering light and it left me feeling angry with them and angry at our own government for not only allowing some of what's been reported by former Scientologists to go on but for allowing an incredibly well-funded cult to bully their way to tax exemption. Money and fanatical devotion are powerful tools indeed!

    I found the reading by Morton Sellers adequate but it certainly takes nothing away from this book. Recommended... but you may want some lighter reading afterwards.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Todd Millam 03-30-15
    Todd Millam 03-30-15 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
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    6
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    "Thorough investigation of a wacky cult"

    This production showcases a thorough investigation of this frightening organization. It is hard to imagine believing in this bizarre man

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MARGE GUSTAFSON 03-27-15 Member Since 2014
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    3
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    "Nuts with power and money"

    The ravings of Hubbard got tedious at times. I do appreciate the authors attempts to explain what draws people to Scientology, but calling it a religion abuses our tax code. It was all rather exhausting and infuriating.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    KA Brinkman 03-25-15
    KA Brinkman 03-25-15
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    "Fascinating!"

    Always wondered about Scientology and the people in it. This is full of crazy and troubling info about the founding of and practices within this Religion. I could not put it down. In fact I think I'll listen to it again. But I am left with "where the hell is Shelly and why hasn't she been found? Scary stuff! Must read if only to expand your knowledge.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cherise 03-24-15
    Cherise 03-24-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Gripping from page 1."

    I thoroughly enjoyed this. Concise, diplomatic, incredibly well researched and the production is clear, and so easy to listen to. Epilogue was my favorite part. Great job on all accounts!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Teadrinker Oak Ridge, NJ, United States 03-24-15
    Teadrinker Oak Ridge, NJ, United States 03-24-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Excellent and Terrifying History"

    I bought this book for what I thought would be light and entertaining reading. However, it sucked me down into a whirlpool of sadism, abuse, lying, tyranny, and mind control. L. Ron Hubbard and his successor rank with Hitler and Stalin, lacking only opportunity to take a whole country. The first courageous journalist who tried to stand up to them nearly lost her life. It's terrifying how easily this can happen - all you need to do is gain access to some key public figures who will do your recruiting for you, suggest an air of mystery and superiority, then corner and brainwash your converts. At the same time I'm reading "Crowds and Power" by Elias Canetti, and this same thing has been done countless times before and will be done again. Thank god some converts were able to leave, live and tell their tales and for the journalists who put their lives on the line.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Some Dude 03-21-15
    Some Dude 03-21-15
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    "Outstanding"

    I knew going in that the Church of Scientology had done bad things, but this book opened my eyes to the horror.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Duane 03-18-15
    Duane 03-18-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Fantastic"

    Everything was great. There needs to be a way to list sources without reading out urls, though. That's laughably annoying

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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