Going Clear by Lawrence Wright
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From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the now-classic study of al-Qaeda’s 9/11 attack, The Looming Tower, a deep penetration into the world of Scientology that The New York Times Book Review calls “Powerful…essential reading.”
“Who’d have thought a history of a religion would offer so many guilty pleasures?” —The Los Angeles Times
“Utterly necessary story.” —The Wall Street Journal
“It’s a minutiae-packed book full of wild stories.” —Janet Maslin, The New York Times
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.
A portion of this material appeared in an article Wright wrote for The New Yorker. Click here to read “The Apostate: Charles Haggis vs. the Church of Scientology” on The New Yorker Online.
More Praise for Going Clear
“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
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.