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Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief Hardcover – Deckle Edge, January 17, 2013

4.4 out of 5 stars 2,080 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Immersed in this book, the reader is drawn along by tantalizing revelations while simultaneously exhausted, longing for escape from its cloistered world—mirroring the accounts of many former Scientologists on the record, here. In efficient, unemotional prose, Wright begins with the biography of founder L. Ron Hubbard: his days as a prodigiously prolific writer of pulp fiction, his odd military career, the publication of his breakthrough self-help book Dianetics (1950), and the influence, riches, and controversy that have followed since he founded the Church of Scientology in 1954. For those aware of Scientology through its celebrity adherents (Tom Cruise and John Travolta are the best known) rather than its works, the sheer scope of the church’s influence and activities will prove jaw-dropping. Wright paints a picture of organizational chaos and a leader, David Miscavige, who rules by violence and intimidation; of file-gathering paranoia and vengefulness toward apostates and critics; of victories over perceived enemies, including the U.S. government, won through persuasion, ruthless litigation, and dirty tricks. Even more shocking may be the portrayal of the Sea Org, a cadre of true believers whose members sign contracts for a billion years of service, and toil in conditions of indentured servitude, punished mercilessly for inadvertent psychic offenses. Their treatment is a far cry from the coddling afforded to the much-courted celebrities. (Wright does point out that, for whatever reason, most Sea Org members remain in service voluntarily.) Page after page of damaging testimony, often from formerly high-ranking officers, is footnoted with blanket denials from the church and other parties (e.g., “The church categorically denies all charges of Miscavige’s abuse” and “Cruise, through his attorney, denies that he ever retreated from his commitment to Scientology”). Readers will have to decide whether to believe the Pulitzer-winning author’s carefully sourced reporting, or the church’s rebuttals. But, quoting Paul Haggis, the Academy Award–winning film director and former Scientologist whom Wright first profiled in the New Yorker: “if only a fraction of these accusations are true, we are talking about serious, indefensible human and civil rights violations.” Going Clear offers a fascinating look behind the curtain of an organization whose ambition and influence are often at odds with its secretive ways. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The publisher’s announced first printing of 150,000 seems right on the money. Wright will be promoting the book on a seven-city tour, but its reputation precedes him. --Keir Graff

Review

Praise for Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief, by Lawrence Wright   
        
 
 “Powerful . . . essential reading.” —Michael Kinsley, the front page of The New York Times Book Review

“Who’d have thought a history of a religion would offer so many guilty pleasures?   Lawrence Wright’s enthralling account of Scientology’s rise brims with celebrity scandal. To anyone who gets a sugar rush from Hollywood gossip, the chapters on Tom Cruise and John Travolta will feel like eating a case of Ding Dongs.”
      —Evan Wright, The Los Angeles Times

“An utterly necessary story . . . A feat of reporting. The story of Scientology is the great white whale of investigative journalism about religion.”—Paul Elie, The Wall Street Journal

“Wright’s account of the church’s history and struggles is helpful, admirably fair-minded and, at times, absorbing . . . The book’s most intriguing aspect, though is not its treatment of Scientology, in particular,  but its raising general questions about the nature of faith and reason and the role of religion in American life.”
       —Troy Jollimore, Chicago Tribune 

“A wild ride of a page-turner, as enthralling as a paperback thriller . . .I could go on and on, listing Hubbard’s tall tales, paranoid delusions and eccentricities, as well as Miscavige’s brutalities and tidbits from the famously wacky and decidedly unscientific Scientologist cosmology.”—Laura Miller, Salon.com

“Insightful, gripping, and ultimately tragic . . . The initial biographical section [about L. Ron Hubbard] could stand as an engrossing book in itself. . . .The second section,
“Hollywood,” provides the answer to one of the great mysteries of the modern world:  What’s the deal with Tom Cruise and Scientology?”—Buzzy Jackson, The Boston Globe 

“A hotly compelling read. It’s a minutiae-packed book full of wild stories.”
      —Janet Maslin, The New York Times                                                                   

  
“Lawrence Wright brings a clear-eyed investigative fearlessness to Scientology—its history, theology, its hierarchy—and the result is . . . evidence that truth can be stranger even than science fiction.”—Lisa Miller, The Washington Post
 
 
“A gripping, exhaustive, remarkably evenhanded investigation of the religion everyone loves to hate.”—Lawrence Levi, Newsday  
 
 
“It’s incredible.   It is an incredible, fascinating read.    It is like a pirate novel, but there are celebrities in it. I admired [Wright’s] chutzpah, he’s like Don Quixote.”—The Hairpin
 
 
“Revealing and disturbing . . . A series of devastating revelations that will come as news even to hardened Scientology buffs who follow the Church’s every twist and turn.”—The Daily Beast                                                
 
 
“Devastating . . . A patient, wholly compelling investigation into a paranoid "religion" and the faithful held in its sweaty grip.”—Kirkus Reviews
 
 
“Not only a titillating expose on the reported “you’re kidding me” aspects of the religion, but a powerful examination of belief itself.”—Entertainment Weekly
 
 
“A fascinating look behind the curtain of an organization whose ambition and influence are often at odds with its secretive ways. . . . For those aware of Scientology through its celebrity adherents (Tom Cruise and John Travolta are the best known) rather than its works, the sheer scope of the church’s influence and activities will be jaw-dropping.”
                  —Keir Graff, Booklist
 
 
“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 allegation of physical abuse, and expensive answers for spiritual consumers.”—Publishers Weekly
 
 
 

 

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Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Knopf; First Edition (January 17, 2013)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 448 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0307700666
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0307700667
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.73 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6.57 x 1.39 x 9.49 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.4 out of 5 stars 2,080 ratings

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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5
2,080 global ratings
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Stephen Sennitt
1.0 out of 5 stars Great book - rating is for the shoddy Amazon production
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 6, 2018
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Tony Ryan (author)
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, detailed, well-written and important.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 7, 2019
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Tim Burgess
5.0 out of 5 stars A very factual book. A must read.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 8, 2018
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Ian E Kershaw
5.0 out of 5 stars Oh very dear!
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Lex
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
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