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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

Critic Reviews

“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 Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5.0
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Performance

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Story

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  • Story

Great book, afraid Miscavige might read this review

Such an extensive and thoroughly researched book on scientology and general religion. I would highly recommend it to everyone, though those would benefit the most from it will not likely get to it.

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  • Story

Superb crackerjack expose narrated way too slow

If you could sum up Going Clear in three words, what would they be?

Shocking, Illuminating, Engrossing,

Who was your favorite character and why?

Focus on Paul Haggis gives us an example of a well-known person who fell under the spell of Scientology, discovered the abounding cruelty of it, and ultimately got out

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

Sellers reads with crisp authority but also at a snail's pace. I eventually listened at 2.0x, and it barely felt faster than I would expect from normal speech.

If you could give Going Clear a new subtitle, what would it be?

Scientology is so much worse than you ever imagined

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Detailed, scary and factual

Would you listen to Going Clear again? Why?

I do not think I would listen to it again, simply because all my questions have been answered.

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

Answered the mystery of how Mr. Hubbard spent his last days. Described what happened during the change of power during that period.

Any additional comments?

This book answered many questions I had about the organization, answers that were even worse than I'd imagined. The time line of events was very eye-opening. The honesty of the accounts was marked.

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A little too complex ...

...for a book you listen too. This one is perhaps better read. So many people, events, etc that are so detailed that they are hard to keep track of. Book is great but I'd a lot to digest in this format.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
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Needed to be edited down

Is there anything you would change about this book?

Cut it in half. I got that he and they were all nut jobs.

Have you listened to any of Morton Sellers’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

It is a documentary, and from what I hear a good one.

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Wow! Unbelievable

Very informative and packed full of historical detail about Scientology and L. Ron Hubbard. Eye opening! Narration was really good.

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Changed my life

after reading this, I realized that my faith, Mormonism, is as much a cult as any other. Now I'm free!

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

Gripping, horrifying and strange

I found this insiders view helpful. Seems like brainwashing is alive and well in the house of Satan. This story was engaging, insightful and horrifying.
Strongly recommend

The reader was very steady though at times you could tell he was in disbelief about the subject matter.

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Kind of long but really good

I really liked the book. Lots of information. It's seems long for what it covers but maybe it had to be this way. The last chapter is one of the best.

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Interesting history of two driven men

This isn't really a biography of either L. Ron Hubbard or David Miscavige, but their stories are inexorably linked to Scientology, and they have each shaped the church into what it is today. The way the church works, and how it is run makes more sense with the context of these two men, and the many others featured in this book.

For a proper biography of Hubbard, I recommend "Bare Faced Messiah" by Russell Miller, which focuses more on the man than the church, but these two books make great companion pieces.