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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

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  •  
    Chris Reich Northern, CA 02-02-13
    Chris Reich Northern, CA 02-02-13 Member Since 2005

    Business Physicist and Astronomer

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Scared the Hell Out of Me"

    This book should be required reading/listening. The book seems to be very even handed in that, even in the closing words, the author balances his findings with a response from the organization.

    Still, in spite of Church of Scientology denials, there is just too much evidence of very dangerous behavior. Germany got it right.

    You know, I am a little fearful in posting this because Scientology strikes me as so dangerous and vindictive.

    This is the Audible book I had to stop frequently because it is just so disturbing.

    58 of 60 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sam G 01-26-13
    Sam G 01-26-13 Member Since 2009
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    "Not for the Faint of Heart"
    Any additional comments?

    I expected this work of non-fiction to be quite bizarre, and I wasn't disappointed. What I wasn't expecting, however, was the intense ugliness that characterized this cult and its founder. Though this book is very well researched and very well written, it is far from pleasant. It's information that needs to be made public, however, and I highly recommend it.The narrator, by the way, is very good. I have listened to several books read by him, and would gladly listen to more.

    61 of 64 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Walnut Creek, CA, United States 01-27-13
    Michael Walnut Creek, CA, United States 01-27-13

    I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read.

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    "Shockingly Great"

    This was a great book. I really found myself unable to put this down. I somewhat expected a dry, one sided, hatchet job. Instead this was detailed story starting with the early life of the clearly troubled founder of Scientology and continuing to the present day. I fully enjoyed the reading of every footnote. I did not really expect to, but I learned a lot. The writing and the narration were both quite compelling.

    I have not been a fan of Scientology since a friend of mine joined, and after a few years called me having just escaped penniless and only wearing his underwear out of a window after a many hour auditing session with several people pointing out body thetons on him that were visible to them but not visible to my friend. I agree many of the ideas of Scientology are no weirder than any other religion, and I always thought the basic idea of auditing sounded interesting and potentially useful, but there does seem to be a pattern of secrecy and intimidation not seen elsewhere. This book presents a pattern of paranoia, violence; control, and hypocrisy with an intensity that is truly shocking. I would recommend anyone thinking about Scientology to read this book first.

    75 of 80 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Suzanne PFLUGERVILLE, TX, United States 01-22-13
    Suzanne PFLUGERVILLE, TX, United States 01-22-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Fantastic, if also horrifying!"
    Any additional comments?

    I have read several books and articles about Scientology as I enjoy comparative religions. This is the best book so far. Thorough, even-handed, and fascinating! It was sad to read about the abuse and exploitation of church members by the church hierarchy. As a mental health professional, I felt some of the practices were similar to concepts in psychology and enjoyed reading about those. Ultimately, I found myself agreeing that the odd, science fiction aspects of the church were no more unusual than aspects of other religions - virgin birth, for example - and believing that people should be allowed to practice their faith as they see fit. That said, the human rights abuses that are part of the church were horrific and should be addressed. And I was angered by the surrender of the IRS in giving tax-exempt status to parts of the church that are obviously not faith related such as selling Hubbard's science fiction books that aren't part of the church tenets. Narrator was good although I wasn't always sure that reading the footnotes and spelling out websites was necessary.

    46 of 50 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Heidi Wheeling, WV, United States 02-05-13
    Heidi Wheeling, WV, United States 02-05-13 Member Since 2007
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    "Brilliant and Scary"
    Where does Going Clear rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    For it's genre it's very good.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Going Clear?

    The biography of Hubbard. He was so disturbed.


    Any additional comments?

    I didn't know much about Scientology. I knew they believed in aliens or we were aliens or something. After listening to this book I'm actually anxious for the poor people who are in the Sea Org. I really like the line in the book about people joining and being in religions, not because they are evil people but because they want to be better people, help people, help themselves. That's a noble desire, it's sad how people exploit others. I don't understand why anyone would want to be part of this "religion" unless you're Tom Cruise. Everyone else seems to be disposable and unimportant. For Tom Cruise it must be great, your own personal slave team and a religion set up where you can't do wrong. I always kind of thought he was a nutter, but now I think he's beyond narcissistic, maybe even sociopathic.

    22 of 24 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rob United States 01-29-13
    Rob United States 01-29-13 Member Since 2009
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    "I was there..."

    My story is long but in short I was in the Sea Org for about 8 years.

    I was 20 yrs old. I read Dianetics and it made so much sense to me. A few months later I was on staff on a Church and a few weeks after that I joined the Sea Org. I then ended up in the RPF as well and eventually left. I wanted to make a difference and truly felt that this was the way to do it. Scientology was making a positive change in my life and my family as well.

    I ended up in middle management. I got to work with pretty much all the celebs in Scientology, i.e. Tom Cruise, John Travolta, etc. The pressure to perform was immense. I knew Tommy Davis and worked with him as well.

    The audio book delves into the earlier life of LRH. Things I didn't know about him were shocking but then again isn't the life of people who want to change the world weird or shocking as well?

    "Because The People Who Are Crazy Enough To Think They Can Change The World, Are The Ones Who Do.” - Steve Jobs.

    I never met David Miscavige or worked with him directly so I can't confirm him beating up people. Do I believe it? Yes, I do. The pressure where I was working was so intense I can only imagine what it must have been like for those in upper management or those that worked with Miscavige directly. Evidence of course is also the fact that many high level executives have since left the church and their stories match as well.

    Many things in the audiobook rang true for me and took me back. For the most part I think the author captured what it's really like in Scientology especially in the Sea Org.

    I was captivated by the overall story and the narrator did an excellent job as well.

    To this day I truly believe Scientology works. I believe it has been ruined by bad management and an arrogant leader which is why I left. It's really sad. I think the author described this perfectly. He gives many examples of how Scientology has had positive changes in people's lives. But like I said, it comes down to the management which has to change.

    Scientology works. I have see it first hand many times. Too bad people are being turned away from it because of the Church's arrogance and bad publicity it creates.

    Listen to this audiobook. You will not be disappointed. Just keep in mind that Scientologists are some of the most honest, caring and hard working people ever. I met some great people there and think of them all the time.








    54 of 61 people found this review helpful
  •  
    G-Man Eugene, Orygun 02-02-13
    G-Man Eugene, Orygun 02-02-13 Member Since 2008
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    "Very similar to "Inside Scientology""
    Any additional comments?

    'Very, very similar to Inside Scientology. Both books cover the formation and history of Lafayette Ron Hubbard's Dianetics book success. But Hubbard did not have control over the groups that formed around the philosophy and the profits. Thus came a group with tax free status: a church, which charges you for advancing within it.
    Of the two books, I preferred this one more, tho' both are great and fascinating listens. Both are well narrated too.
    If you have wondered what Scientology is all about, this is a very entertaining and factual way to find out.

    14 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jami E. Nettles Columbus, MS USA 01-30-13
    Jami E. Nettles Columbus, MS USA 01-30-13 Member Since 2002
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    "Well researched and fascinating."

    Great job, thorough research. I was captivated with the bizarre Scientology history, which is so interesting, but also now feel like I have a much better synthesis of this cult. Wonderful read.

    12 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Circle K Riverside, CA United States 01-25-13
    Circle K Riverside, CA United States 01-25-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Tragically Illuminating"

    This was one book that once I began, I found it very difficult to stop listening. It is not a book bashing Scientology but rather a documentary of sorts that starts at the beginning of Scientology and brings you up to its current status. I disagree with the other reviewer as to the footnotes. I found those to be very interesting and necessary. Just more validation to support the book. So many things are covered regarding Scientology that just make you shake your head and are very sad and deplorable. Not to say that things like this do not happen in other "religions", but the focus of this book is on Scientology. Unfortunately the tragedy which unfolded at Waco really gave rise to Scientology's allowable existence in the eyes of the IRS. In this regard, Scientology was basically given the green light to proceed pretty much without sanction other than within their inner hierarchy. Truly a sad situation for those involved with Scientology who now desire the opportunity to leave of their own free will with no strings/debts attached.

    16 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ooopsie! WEST NEW YORK, NJ, United States 02-03-13
    Ooopsie! WEST NEW YORK, NJ, United States 02-03-13 Member Since 2011

    I just follow the signs!

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    "Amazing !"

    Very well investigated book on scientology ! Must read for everyone who are interested in understanding a human's need to be part of something and how that need can be taken advantage of by other humans who seek to exploit that need for their own profits.

    I feel sorry for all the scientologist who dedicate their life to Hubbard. How can these people who believe in science cannot see there is nothing scientific about scientology is beyond comprehension. But this books does give an insight to human conditioning and the power of influence.

    10 of 12 people found this review helpful
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