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.
Pulitzer winner Wright (The Looming Tower) expands and carefully footnotes his investigation of Scientology, which began as a 2011 New Yorker article examining the defection of acclaimed screenwriter-director Paul Haggis from the church. The book-length version offers in persuasive, albeit sometimes mind-numbing, detail an eye-opening short biography of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard and a long-form journalism presentation of the creature Hubbard birthed: a self-help system complete with bizarre cosmology, celebrity sex appeal, lawyers, consistent allegations of physical abuse, and expensive answers for spiritual consumers. Wright capably sows his thorough reportage into ground broken by Janet Reitman (Inside Scientology, 2011). He poses larger questions about the nature of belief, but can only lay groundwork because he has to fight to establish facts, given the secrecy and controversy surrounding Scientology, and his eyewitnesses are necessarily disenchanted and therefore adversarial. While Wright's brave reporting offers an essential reality test, an analysis of why this sci-fi and faith brew quenches a quasi-religious thirst in its followers is still needed. First printing 150,000.
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Scary & Well Documented
I think this was a writer who had a "fair" attitude toward his subject. Unless you are a celebrity like Tom Cruise, Scientology seems to be unkind, unethical and often cruel to it's members. It is a cult!
Although this book was confusing at times with going back in time with some players, it is still a very comprehensive book about what seems to go on at this "church." Of course, that term is used loosely because of what it preaches, or the lack or preaching. It seems that some people are helped by Scientology, others destroyed. Kirstie ally is someone who hasn't been helped, although she stopped taking drugs, she became addicted to food, cross addiction. Of course, Tom cruise would be someone enchanted with this religion since he is taller than.....exactly...get my point. From now on, I'll keep my mouth shut when it comes to this cult, as is with other cults, you can't argue with insanity.
I'm a skeptic at heart, but this was an excellently written, objective, thought provoking, fascinating and at times shocking read. Highly recommend!