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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

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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In depth disclosure of a mindless cult.

What made the experience of listening to Going Clear the most enjoyable?

The history of L Ron Hubbard, and the current COB was really interesting. It is amazing how lost the people who join Scientology are. They take abuse because they must think they deserve it. It is so obvious from the outside that LRH was making this up as he went along.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I found myself anxious to finish because the facts keep coming, and when you think it couldn't get any worse, Miscavage shows you he has no shame.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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GOING CLEAR

Without vilifying any one religion, Scientology, like all organized religions, is a belief system manufactured by man. Lawrence Wright, a Pulitzer Prize-winning American journalist, writes an informative, titillating. and believable book about Scientology. After listening to “Going Clear”, the human failings of Scientology are stripped bare with a force as explosive as the abuse of parish children by Catholic’ priests. The many testimonials of Scientologists that say Scientology “improved their lives” infers some value in its teachings; however, like all organized religions, it is subject to human failings. No organized religion in recorded history has been without human failure.

Wright names the names of the most famous Scientologists with Tom Cruise and John Travolta at the top of the list. But, he also explains why lesser lights, like Kirstie Alley, Anne Archer, Greta Van Susteren, continue to follow the religion. What makes the story more interesting is why some of the early members are leaving; i.e. Paul Haggis, Bruce Hines, and possibly, Tommy Davis, a wealthy follower and former spokesman for Scientology.

Wright amplifies interest by revealing secrets of the religion, some of its leader’s alleged violence, and mysteries of disappearing members.

Where will Scientology be 100 years from now? Will Hubbard’s myths become a gospel of truth or will Scientology fall into the dustbin of history’s failed cults?

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Stranger Than Fiction

I always knew Scientology had some strange beliefs. And just seeing the clips of Tom Cruise on Oprah and with Matt Lauer are enough to see that followers of the "Church" have some pretty strange ideas. But I had no idea how sordid a past Scientology has...and a present for that matter.

If what Mr. Wright has written is true, and based on his thorough footnotes I'd say he is certainly on solid footing, then Scientology was founded by a paranoid delusional and currently run by a dictatorial madman. L. Ron Hubbard made so many outlandish claims about himself that had no basis in reality that it is dumbfounding that anyone would follow the religious tenets the man "discovered." And if his leadership weren't bad enough, the current leader, David Miscavige, is a maniacal tyrant who stoops to physically attacking any person he perceives may be questioning his authority.

Scientology claims that those practitioners at its highest levels actually have the power to control matter, energy, space, and time. And at the same time they claim to be the only religion based entirely on true scientific principles. So guess what? Superheroes are no longer the realm of science fiction. You need only look to Tom Cruise and John Travolta to find men who can bend space and time to their will.

Well researched and written, "Going Clear" offers a fascinating and jaw-dropping view inside one America's strangest religions. The book is both eye-opening and terrifying. To know that in America there is still an organization who can hold people against their will and force them into slave labor is unnerving. I recommend this book to anyone interested in modern religious study and definitely recommend it to anyone who may have a family member being drawn into this dreadful cult.

8 of 11 people found this review helpful

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THRILLS AND CHILLS

This expose, written in thriller novel style, was so intense I had to stop listening a few times and "shake off" the woogies. Terrifying that systems like Scientology can suck people in...like quicksand...the harder they struggle, the deeper they get. And the Hollywood conspiracy of silence is sickening. The most unexpected revelation was the homophobia of Scientology...didn't see that coming.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Outstanding Account, Exceptionally Reaserched

Wonderfully detailed account of what this organization is all about. The epilogue is outstanding. Very long but worth the time to finish.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Scott
  • Scarborough, ON, Canada
  • 05-29-15

Investigative journalism at its best

Any additional comments?

I am a fan of Lawrence Wright, whose specialty is investigative journalism focused on religion. As with his other works, Going Clear is meticulously researched relying on interviews with Scientology spokespersons, former members, church documents as well as the public record. What you get is a history of Scientology, a bio of its founder L. Ron Hubbard, and insight into its tenets, practices, and purported abuses. There is a particular focus on the church’s cultivation of celebrities and the story of screenwriter/director/disaffected member Paul Haggis provides a narrative focus. The audiobook is critical of Hubbard and Scientology though Wright takes pains to present both sides where possible and to his credit approaches the material with a journalist’s impartiality. One criticism I have of the book is that it quickly leaps from Hubbard’s writing of Dianetics to Scientology having been established, leaving me to fill in the details of how the movement took hold/expanded and Hubbard grew rich. Despite this, Going Clear is a fascinating and entertaining read that demystifies Scientology, though its adherents will probably feel otherwise.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Fascinating but very long

Fascinating but very long. Hard to follow all the characters and story sometimes but enlightening! I recommend others to listen!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A must read

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

One of the best books I've listened to on Audible. It completes the HBO documentary by putting faces with names.

What did you like best about this story?

Lays the "church" to bare and illuminates how a cult/mafia operates.

What about Morton Sellers’s performance did you like?

Provides the perfect tone and tenor for the narrative.

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

My wife told me I'd say, "You've got to be s****ing me" for about every 10 minutes of listening.

Any additional comments?

After you read this book, you'll understand why the Germans wouldn't allow Scientology to establish there. One Hitler was enough.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great book!!

Really interesting insight into this secretive cult, its creator and current leader! Maybe now IRS will reinvestigate their tax status.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • TP
  • 04-30-15

Shocking story of man manipulating men

It is amazing how gullible people can be. To be controlled by a man with no moral compass is indeed perplexing and disappointing.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful