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Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the…
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Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief (original 2013; edition 2013)

by Lawrence Wright

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
1,059747,917 (4.09)1 / 94
Member:knittingmomof3
Title:Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief
Authors:Lawrence Wright
Info:Knopf (2013), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 448 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:Non-Fiction, Sociology, History, Religion

Work details

Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright (2013)

  1. 00
    Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology by Leah Remini (akblanchard)
    akblanchard: Both books deal with the Hollywood-Scientology connection.
  2. 00
    Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson by Jeff Guinn (akblanchard)
    akblanchard: Although he never joined the group, Manson dabbled in Scientology. It is interesting to draw parallels between Manson's treatment of his "Family" and life in the Scientology's Sea Org.
  3. 00
    Inside Scientology: The Story of America's Most Secretive Religion by Janet Reitman (sparemethecensor)
    sparemethecensor: Two similar journalistic exposes of Scientology, both of which take a surprisingly even-handed view of the group. I preferred Inside Scientology, although both are great primers on what is going on under David Miscavige's regime.
  4. 01
    Bright-sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America by Barbara Ehrenreich (aulsmith)
    aulsmith: Although Wright missed it completely, Scientology seems to be yet another in a long line of American religions/self-help groups influenced by the Positive Thinking Movement. If you want a wider vision of how these groups function, I highly recommend Ehrenreich.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 73 (next | show all)
GOING CLEAR is a book everyone should read. In it, Lawrence Wright examines Scientology any way he could, by interviewing Scientologists and former Scientologists and by researching texts that others had written, even in spite of harassment these writers often received from the Scientologists. Some texts came straight from documents written by the founder of Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard.

This is where the book begins, with an explanation of the cult/religion and its beginnings. L. Ron Hubbard's own writings are used extensively here. I think they sound pretty silly, even unintelligible at times. But lots of people bought it and still do. Why? (There is evidence that the number of Scientologists is dwindling, which is disputed by the cult/religion.)

Next Wright attempts to explain the history of Scientology and experiences by particular Scientologists and former Scientologists. Because the cult/religion prizes celebrities, many of these were/are Hollywood stars, especially Tom Cruise.

My determination: This cult/religion isn't just silly. I find what Wright describes to be sickening, the physical abuse most of all.

I'm glad I read it, and you will be, too. Once you get through all the explanations of Scientology's silly beginnings, the book becomes unputdownable. ( )
  techeditor | Jun 2, 2016 |
Not just revealing but makes you think about the origins of all religion- period. ( )
  kristina_brooke | Apr 15, 2016 |
L. Ron Hubbard wrote Dianetics in 1950. The book advocated pseudo-scientic self-improvement techniques that it described as sui generis and world-changing; unsurprisingly, the book was a huge hit! All over the nation people formed ad-hoc Dianetics self-improvement groups, like so many AA 12-step assemblies, but eventually enthusiasm faded (especially so in the face of the scientific community rising in one bow-tied, thick-glasses-wearing mass to roundly condemn the book and its techniques as hogwash), and Hubbard, who'd raised his lifestyle in concert with his income, found it difficult to lower that selfsame lifestyle when the money stopped pouring in. This is a fairly typical cultural cycle. We've already seen it and we'll see it again.

What's notable here is Hubbard's insight that if one were to create a religion around the culturally exciting thing one had created, one could prolong the exciting thing's cultural magic and profit longterm from its adherents' enthusiasms and hope for transcendence. Thus was born Scientology.

There's of course a lot more to the story. And Lawrence Wright tells it competently and well. Unfortunately, the story of Hubbard and his mindful milieu is a depressing tale. It left me admiring Hubbard's ingenuity and optimistic persistence in the face of crushing odds (viz., Scientology choosing to fight the IRS head-to-head when the IRS tried to end Scientology's tax-exempt status; Scientology fought the law and the law did not in fact win), but loathing the man himself. And where's the good fun in that? ( )
  evamat72 | Mar 31, 2016 |
My only complaint is that it doesn't go far enough. Otherwise an excellent and disturbing piece of investigative journalism. Based on a two-part story that ran in the New Yorker about actor Paul Haggis, it reminds us why we need to support long-form journalism and magazine and newspaper writing. ( )
  bostonbibliophile | Mar 16, 2016 |
I gave this 3 stars, but it's a low 3.... the book is well researched, and well written, but... way more detail about Scientology & Every. Painful. Life. Detail...of the individual church members' lives. way too much detail for me to slog through. So it's not 'bad', but it was not for me. ( )
  AmyCahillane | Feb 24, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 73 (next | show all)
That crunching sound you hear is Lawrence Wright bending over backward to be fair to Scientology. Every deceptive comparison with Mormonism and other religions is given a respectful hearing. Every ludicrous bit of church dogma is served up deadpan. This makes the book’s indictment that much more powerful.
added by lorax | editNew York Times, Michael Kinsley (Jan 17, 2013)
 
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Scientology plays an outsize role in the cast of new religions that have arisen in the twentieth century and survived into the twenty-first.
London, Ontario, is a middling manufacturing town halfway between Toronto and Detroit, once known for its cigars and breweries.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307700666, Hardcover)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:34 -0400)

"Based on more than two hundred personal interviews with both current and former Scientologists--both famous and less well known--and years of archival research, Lawrence Wright uses his extraordinary investigative skills to uncover for us the inner workings of the Church of Scientology: its origins in the imagination of science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard; its struggles to find acceptance as a legitimate (and legally acknowledged) religion; its vast, secret campaign to infiltrate the U.S. government; its vindictive treatment of critics; its phenomenal wealth; and its dramatic efforts to grow and prevail after the death of Hubbard"--From publisher description.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 4 descriptions

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