Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief

Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief

by Lawrence Wright
4.1 107

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Overview

Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright

National Book Award Finalist


A clear-sighted revelation, a deep penetration into the world of Scientology by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Looming Tower, the now-classic study of al-Qaeda’s 9/11 attack. Based on more than two hundred personal interviews with 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.


From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780385350273
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/17/2013
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 49,056
File size: 4 MB

About the Author

Lawrence Wright is a graduate of Tulane University and the American University in Cairo, where he spent two years teaching.   He is a staff writer for The New Yorker, and the author of one novel, God’s Favorite, and six previous books of nonfiction, including In the New World; Saints and Sinners; Remembering Satan; and The Looming Tower, which was the recipient of many honors--among them, The Pulitzer Prize, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and the New York Public Library’s Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism.    He is also a screenwriter and a playwright.   He and his wife are longtime residents of Austin, Texas.

Lawrence Wright official website: http://www.lawrencewright.com/


From the Hardcover edition.

Hometown:

Austin, Texas

Date of Birth:

August 2, 1947

Place of Birth:

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Education:

B.A., Tulane University, 1969; M.A. (Applied Linguistics), American University in Cairo, 1971

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Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 107 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lawrence Wright has written a thorough book. The things that the Church of Scientology objected to or records differently are carefully included. This book has been substantiated by people who have blown or left the Sea Org and lived to tell about it. Those who don't understand, please type "lisa mcpherson scientology" without the quotes into your search engine. And then take a deep breathe. Remember that the beliefs of Scientologists are no more [ir]rational than those of any other religion. Scientology is not the only organization that is guilty of [alleged] human rights violations either. The laws in the USA need changing so that way when violations such as abuse, slavery, and forced imprisonment are found to exist in religious facilities and schools, those violations can be acted upon. I do not expect this review to last as I am quite sure that Scientologists will decend upon the Going Clear listing to leave nasty reviews and to complain about anything remotely resembling the truth. They are not necessarily bad people. Just afraid that the things that they have given their lives to are not worthy of such dedication and loyalty.
writerman70 More than 1 year ago
Sharp, insightful, informative. Mr. Wright has written an exceptional book. Utilizing his exemplary investigative talents, he offers readers an intense, riveting journey through the arcane, theological concepts (and crimes) of a fledgling religion. His acumen is staggering, his research painstaking, his perspective clear-sighted and acute. Not content to cater to tabloid posturing, Mr. Wright delves deeply into an organization that, while calling itself a religion, commits crimes so heinous that they should be unconscionable. The question one is left with is this: Why have those running this organization (really, there is a central controller, who commands subordinates using intimidation and outright violence) not been brought to justice? And why do intelligent people devote exorbitant amounts of money (to say nothing of their lives) to the teachings of a person who himself spent many years evading the law while, in the process, creating his own biography, a good portion of which is in staunch opposition to facts accrued? The book is compulsively readable; with each page, one's amazement and disgust grow. Mr. Wright's work has always been discerning, well-documented, and scholarly. Such pedigree continues to be on display with this, his latest book. Prepare to be reading well into the night. Prepare also to be outraged.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Impeccable research through extensively cited sources--most from multiple corroborating sources--and a critical insight into one of the most controversial cults of our time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I did not need convincing that Scientology was irrational, but I found myself continuously surprised by just how arbitrarily bizarre the beliefs are. Also, I wasn't quite aware of just how insidious and cruel it could be. I highly recommend the book. The author keeps the editorializing to a minimum and lets his reporting speak for itself.
9nan More than 1 year ago
If anyone else had written this book, I might not have believed it. Lawrence Wright so diligently documents, and speaks for both sides. After reading "The Looming Tower," and articles by Wright, I believe whatever he writes. I had the pleasure of hearing Wright speak at Book People in Austin, re "Going Clear." He gave insightful, sometimes humorous answers to all questions. I was shocked at the physical abuse, especially by the head of Scientology, Miscavige. I knew it was difficult to leave Scientology, but had no idea how difficult they make it, especially how impoverished its members are. Their designation as religious non-profit by the IRS, exempts them from prosecution for horrible abuses. If you or anyone you love is considering Scientology, please read this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Buy this version. Don't get the buggy enhanced version
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After reading and loving Wright's Looming Tower and Saints and Sinners, I was glad to read more of his superb investigative writing. Wright presents a fair picture of Scientology and I am appalled by the abuses of the members. I wanted to believe that the Church of Scientology should be stripped of its tax exempt status, but Wright fairly distinguished between the religion (which while I find it fantasy, others are truly helped), and the abusive behavior of the leaders. I end wishing Miscavege was convicted of the many abuses he thrust on Sea Org members.
drakevaughn More than 1 year ago
Going Clear begins with the story of Paul Haggis, a Hollywood screenwriter, who describes his troubled past, rejection of the status-quo, and desire for a new way to live. By individualizing Haggis’ life, Wright manages to both humanize the desire which drew Haggis to Scientology, along with the authoritarianism and lies that later forced him to reject it. First off, thank you Mr. Haggis for being brave enough to go on record and reveal the truth, warts and all. His story alone is amazing, but Wright draws on a larger historical context, documenting L. Ron Hubbard’s life and the church that spawned from his beliefs. Digging deep into Scientology, Wright reports on Hubbard’s own troubled past, including his fabricated war tales and damaged personal relationships. Out of this grew a vast empire, which mirrored Hubbard’s own paranoia and fear of prosecution, resulting in an isolated and secretive church. Wright also follows the tale of Hubbard’s young protégé, David Miscavige, who rose rapidly to become the church’s next chief, and the claims of abuse that followed in his leadership. The book is thorough and well documented, as would be expected from a writer for the New Yorker, and Wright avoids any personal attacks on the church. Highly recommended for anyone interested in knowing the truth behind the Church of Scientology – everything from its tumultuous roots, to the undercover infiltration of the IRS and Hollywood, and even the deep-set needs it fulfills in people searching for a higher spiritual world. Five stars in both research and captivating writing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A very articulate and thoroughly researched book. I'm so glad there are people brave enough to leave this group and speak out about the vindictive hierarchy in Scientology. Your mind is the only true thing you'll ever own, be very careful who you hand it over to!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As the New York Times book review of Going Clear stated, Wright takes care to be objective and fair in his history and explanation of Scientology. Consequently, the description of events and beliefs in Scientology is compelling and believable.
MaxwellB More than 1 year ago
So much more interesting than I could have imagined. Expected a dry history. But this is a very interesting, yet terrifying, explanation of this so-called religion. Very glad I read it. Only down side: Will never be able to look at Tom Cruise without my skin crawling.
LeapinLizzard More than 1 year ago
This book details the mysterious inner workings of the "Church" of Scientology. Frankly, if half of what is detailed in the book is true I find it hard to see how they call themselves a church. Beatings, forced confinement, slave labor for paltry wages, camps who's security (to keep members from escaping) rivals Area 51 & signing a Billion Year contract...it's all in there. A Very Interesting Read!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awesome work.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is at the top of my list on the lunacy that is Scientology. You would be hard pressed to find a better researched or written book on the subject. Scientology is one of the worst cults the world has seen in a long time and this lays it out perfectly.
Forensic-Doc More than 1 year ago
t really shows Hubbard's mindset. I've read a lot of books on Scientology, each with its own viewpoint. This book is a must read for anyone interested in the subject. The book "beyond belief" by Jenna Miscave Hill and The Road to Xenu (Social Control and Scientology) by Bob Penny and Margery Wakefield should also be read. The Road to Xenu cover has Uncle Sam pointing and saying I WANT ALL OF YOUR MONEY See you local IAS REG. An in depth look at how social control really works. If you read the latter two books read "beyond belief" first and then The Road to Xenu since it makes it easier to understand the workings of Scientology. Going Clear delves into the full mind of a man that was a genius but psychologically damaged. This books answers all the why's you have wanted to know about Hubbard and the "religion" thus making all the other books on the subject, well, clear. This book is the link for all other books on Scientology.
alowe More than 1 year ago
well written, thoroughly researched , scary !
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellently researched and written
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I could not put the book down. I am stunned & very upset that the cult still exists.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The origins of Scientology, its evolution and practices are presented in a straightforward, dispassionate way. This enhances its credibility - one must always wonder about the writer's motives when discussing controversial topics - but it does not make for an engaging reading experience. I was also hoping for more discussion about religions in general, and why societies continue to embrace them and create new ones, but that is mostly limited to the epilogue.
archerPM More than 1 year ago
The book is well researched & pleasant to read. It's also very sad to read how people can be manipulated.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm learning a lot about LRH and Scientology, but this book is a bit tedious.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It can be a bit rambling, as real life is not built in a story format, but everything is researched and documented. Excellent.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I saw the HBO documentary, so some of the book was not new news to me. However, I found this book so in- depth about LRH. Some page I had to read twice, because I thought I had read it wrong, no I had read it right. It was in fact that strange! Anyone who wants to know about the secretive world of Scientology, read this book.
AnnetteOC More than 1 year ago
After reading insider Jenna Miscavige Hill’s tell-all memoir Beyond Belief about her growing up in the Church of Scientology, I thought it would be a good idea to read something that would give me a slightly more objective view about L. Ron Hubbard and his religious creation. Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, & the Prison of Belief (Knopf, 2013) was just the thing. In this book, author Lawrence Wright pulls together material from considerable research and numerous personal interviews to tell story of one of the newest and one of the most controversial religions around today. He starts off with Hubbard’s early life and goes into his wobbly career with the U.S. Navy, his involvement with the Occult, and his stormy relationships with his wives (both official and common) and children. This helps the reader really put Hubbard’s science fiction writing, development of Dianetics, and founding of Scientology into a larger perspective. While at first, Going Clear might appear as a Hubbard biography, later on the book shifts focus, discussing the suspicious take-over by David Miscavige, the church’s turbulent relationship with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, charges of abuse, and other scandals and lawsuits. Wright fills his narrative with testimonies of members past and present, both famous and not-so-much, providing a variety of perspectives about Scientology, its legitimacy, and where it’s headed. As the work of a previous Pulitzer Prize winner, I wish the book had been a smoother read. It seemed to jump from here to there at times, probably because there was so much information and so many people to discuss. It made it difficult to remember who was who sometimes. However, I really appreciated how Wright took the time to explain a lot of scientologists’ practices and beliefs. One problem I had had with Hill’s book was that she often seemed to assume her readers knew what she was talking about, and the Scientologese (Scientology unique set of acronyms and vocabulary) is not always easy for a casual reader unfamiliar with the religion to remember. Some readers might take issue with me calling Going Clear “objective,” and I admit that’s a bit of a stretch. A better word choice might be “fair.” Wright lets both side have their say, while he does betray his own position at times. For example, I think he could’ve been more critical of filmmaker Paul Haggis when discussing Haggis’ upset about the church’s support of CA Proposition 8 (2008) concerning the legal status of same-sex marriage. I thought that Haggis’ correspondence with church officials provided an excellent illustration of how celebrities were accustomed to receiving special treatment. Here was one who thought he had a right to demand a change in the church’s doctrine and political position, regardless of the view of the church’s leaders or other members. Haggis’ behavior shows what problems the church faces when constantly catering to high profile members’ sense of entitlement, and I think Wright was too focused on the discussion about the treatment of homosexual members to make observations like these. I would like to say that, whatever biases might have penetrated the rest of the book, Wright’s conclusion was quite fair. Christian readers might think of 1 Corinthians 15:12-34 and how Christianity stands or falls on Jesus’ resurrection from the dead when, in Going Clear, Wright notes the significance of a statement made by Scientology’s then-spokesman Tommy Davis. In effect, Scientology stands or falls on Hubbard’s claims that Dianetics helped heal him from his war wounds. As Wright shows, Hubbard unabashedly lied about his war record and exaggerated his health problems. All I can say in response is “Case closed.”
Anonymous More than 1 year ago