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

86%

25 Critic Reviews

The book is diligently researched, calmly expository, and full of fascinating side-stories...
-Guardian

Synopsis

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.
 

About Lawrence Wright

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Lawrence Wright graduated from Tulane University and spent two years teaching at the American University in Cairo, Egypt. He is a staff writer for The New Yorker and a fellow at the Center on Law and Security at New York University School of Law. The author of five works of nonfiction, including the the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Looming Tower, he has also written a novel, God's Favorite, and was cowriter of the movie The Siege. He and his wife are longtime residents of Austin, Texas.














Author Residence: Austin, Texas
 
Published January 17, 2013 by Vintage. 562 pages
Genres: History, Religion & Spirituality. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Feb 03 2013
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Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for Going Clear
All: 25 | Positive: 23 | Negative: 2

Kirkus

Excellent
on Jan 07 2013

Wright doesn't go out of his way to exaggerate the excesses of Scientology; each page delivers startling facts that need no elaboration. A patient, wholly compelling investigation into a paranoid “religion” and the faithful held in its sweaty grip.

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NY Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Michael Kinsley on Jan 17 2013

“Going Clear” is essential reading for thetans of all ­lifetimes.

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NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Janet Maslin on Jan 13 2013

“Going Clear” loses much of its exoticism after Mr. Hubbard’s death in 1986 and the accession to power of Mr. Miscavige.

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Guardian

Excellent
Reviewed by Sukhdev Sandhu on Feb 02 2013

The book is diligently researched, calmly expository, and full of fascinating side-stories...

Read Full Review of Going Clear: Scientology, Hol... | See more reviews from Guardian

Guardian

Good
Reviewed by David Thomson on Jan 30 2013

Wright is scrupulous and straight-faced in describing the self-help philosophy...

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Hadley Freeman on Jan 29 2013

... despite what the Scientology church has said, Wright – a New Yorker staff writer and Pulitzer prize winner – is about as credible as they come.

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Publishers Weekly

Good
on Jan 11 2013

...Wright’s brave reporting offers an essential reality test...

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WSJ online

Good
Reviewed by PAUL ELIE on Jan 11 2013

"Going Clear" is sometimes hard going on account of its subject matter. But it is an utterly necessary story even so.

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Star Tribune

Excellent
Reviewed by Laurie Hertzel on Feb 16 2013

“Going Clear” is a fascinating read, and a chilling one.

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AV Club

Good
Reviewed by Nathan Rabin on Feb 11 2013

In spite of its occasional excesses and redundancies, Going Clear is simultaneously a fearless, compelling, exhaustive work of muckraking journalism and a masterpiece of storytelling.

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AV Club

Excellent
Reviewed by Nathan Rabin on Feb 11 2013

It’s as lurid, pulpy, and preposterous-seeming as anything Hubbard or Haggis ever wrote, but it’s much better, because it has the benefit of being true.

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Entertainment Weekly

Good
Reviewed by Clark Collis on Jan 18 2013

You can feel the heft of the research as he details Hubbard's establishment of the church...

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The Washington Post

Excellent
Reviewed by Lisa Miller on Feb 20 2013

That Cruise does not get more than a passing mention until halfway through the book is a testament to Wright’s even-handed treatment of his sensational material. But when he does, it’s worth the wait.

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Booklist Online

Excellent
Reviewed by Keir Graff on Feb 20 2013

Going Clear offers a fascinating look behind the curtain of an organization whose ambition and influence are often at odds with its secretive ways.

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Dallas News

Above average
Reviewed by Bob Hoover on Jan 18 2013

Like many processes, Wright’s — and our — understanding is a work in progress. Questions remain despite Going Clear’s efforts to answer them.

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Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Excellent
Reviewed by Carlo Wolff on Jan 20 2013

In "Going Clear," Lawrence Wright shines a light on a world that prefers to keep its players off stage, and the public in the dark.

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Chicago Tribune

Excellent
Reviewed by Troy Jollimore on Jan 11 2013

The book's most intriguing aspect...is not its treatment of Scientology, in particular, but its raising of general questions about the nature of faith and reason and the role of religion in American life.

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Boston.com

Good
Reviewed by Buzzy Jackson on Jan 16 2013

... insightful, gripping, and ultimately tragic exposé of Scientology...

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Zimbio

Excellent
Reviewed by Christine Monnier on Jan 28 2013

From a sociological point of view, it is a fascinating read as a study in the creation of a religious social movement, based on charismatic leadership and the one-man creation of an entire universe of belief.

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Salon

Excellent
Reviewed by Laura Miller on Jan 16 2013

All of it makes for a wild ride of a page-turner, as enthralling as a paperback thriller.

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Austin Chronicle

Above average
Reviewed by Kimberley Jones on Jan 25 2013

Does Going Clear tell the whole story of Scientology? Probably not. But it's wholly engrossing stuff.

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Esquire

Good
on Mar 22 2014

While Going Clear is relatively weaker in discussing ordinary, grassroots Scientologists than Janet Reitman's masterful Inside Scientology of 2011, Wright's colorful accounts of Hubbard's early days in the Los Angeles occult scene (particularly his participation in black-magic sex parties) more than compensates.

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Baltimore City Paper

Above average
Reviewed by Lee Gardner on Feb 20 2013

While Hubbard is in his prime, Going Clear is a surprisingly entertaining read.

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The Republic

Above average
Reviewed by Nahal Toosi on Feb 19 2013

"Going Clear" is a carefully written account, detached and with little sense of outrage apparent from the author's point of view.

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Coachella Valley Weekly

Good
Reviewed by Heidi Simmons on Feb 06 2013

Wright does a good job exploring the effects of Scientology’s “religious” beliefs on the lives of its members. In doing so, he helps us look a little closer at our own beliefs — or lack of — and those who lead us in our thinking.

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