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

Title: Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief

Author: Lawrence Wright

First published January 17, 2013

430 pages, Hardcover

ISBN: 9780307700667 (ISBN10: 0307700666)

Rating: 4.04


Lawrence Wright, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Looming Tower, delves deep into the secretive world of Scientology to bring you an eye-opening exposé that will leave you with your jaw on the floor. With over 200 personal interviews with both current and former members, Wright paints a vivid picture of the inner workings of the Church of Scientology.

From the religion’s origins in the mind of science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard to its struggle for legitimacy and its vast, secret campaign to infiltrate the U.S. government, this book leaves no stone unturned.

Wright introduces you to the men who have made Scientology what it is today: the enigmatic L. Ron Hubbard and his tough, driven successor, David Miscavige.

You’ll learn about Scientology’s esoteric cosmology, the auditing process, and the Bridge to Total Freedom. You’ll see how the church pursues celebrities like Tom Cruise and John Travolta and how young idealists are recruited into the Sea Org.

But you’ll also discover the darker side of Scientology: the shunning of critical voices, the violence that has long permeated the inner sanctum of the church, and the question of whether or not Scientology truly deserves the protection awarded to it as a religion. With exceptional journalistic skills and a compelling narrative style, Wright exposes the very essence of what makes Scientology the institution it is today.

About the Author

Meet Lawrence Wright, an accomplished American author, screenwriter, and fellow at the Center for Law and Security at the New York University School of Law. He is a Pulitzer Prize winner and a staff writer for The New Yorker magazine.

Wright graduated from Tulane University and later taught at the American University in Cairo in Egypt.

In 2009, he was inducted into Woodrow’s Hall of Fame, having graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School in Dallas, Texas, back in 1965.

Wright has authored six books, with his most famous being The Looming Tower, published in 2006. The book won the J.

Anthony Lukas Book Prize, the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction, and is frequently referred to by media pundits as an excellent source of background information on Al Qaeda and the September 11 attacks. The title of the book is taken from a phrase in the Quran, “Wherever you are, death will find you, even in the looming tower,” which Osama bin Laden quoted three times in a videotaped speech seen as directed to the 9/11 hijackers.

Another one of his books, Remembering Satan (1994), delves into the Paul Ingram false memory case. Wright testified at Ingram’s pardon hearing on June 7, 1996.

Wright also co-wrote the screenplay for the movie The Siege (1998), which tells the story of a terrorist attack in New York City that led to curtailed civil liberties and the rounding up of Arab-Americans.

A script that Wright initially wrote for Oliver Stone was turned into a well-regarded Showtime movie, Noriega: God’s Favorite (2000).

Wright’s experience in the Middle East during his research for The Looming Tower culminated in a documentary that premiered on HBO in September 2010. Titled My Trip to Al-Qaeda, the documentary covers topics ranging from the current state of the regime in Saudi Arabia to the historic underpinnings of 9/11.

Editoral Review

“Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief” by Lawrence Wright is a non-fiction work that delves into the history and inner workings of the highly controversial religion known as Scientology. With his meticulous research and journalistic prowess, Wright takes readers on a journey through the origins of this religion, its charismatic founder L.

Ron Hubbard, and the widespread influence of the Church of Scientology on Hollywood’s premier celebrities. Wright starts the book by giving a comprehensive overview of L.

Ron Hubbard’s early life and eventual creation of Scientology. Readers get to know Hubbard as a pulp fiction writer, science fiction author, and naval commander.

By diving deep into his personal life and eccentric beliefs, Wright offers great insights into what shaped Hubbard’s psyche and ultimately led to the creation of Scientology. From there, the book evaluates how the Church of Scientology became a magnet for Hollywood celebrities like Tom Cruise and John Travolta and how it became such a powerful and secretive institution.

“Going Clear” is a brilliantly crafted piece of journalism, as Wright combines extremely detailed research with his interviewing skills to provide a comprehensive understanding of Scientology. He also draws a fine line between the ethos of Scientology and contemporary American society, pointing out flaws and similarities.

Wright’s storytelling skills make it an enthralling read, despite being non-fiction, and the information he provides is both challenging and captivating to the reader.

However, “Going Clear” can at times be overwhelming in detail as Wright explores different aspects of Scientology, making the story sometimes lengthy and unwieldy.

The author also sometimes appears too biased in his analysis, leaving readers wondering whether Wright is providing objective or subjective opinions. Nevertheless, “Going Clear” is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding Scientology or Hollywood’s nexus between elite celebrities and the Church of Scientology.

As our society continues to grapple with the enigma of cults and their effect, “Going Clear” serves as a helpful resource to navigate the intrigue, control, and power dynamics of cults.

Overall, “Going Clear” is an important, well-researched, and thought-provoking book that is ideal for individuals interested in cults, Scientology, or general non-fiction writing.

There aren’t too many books that can immerse their readers in the mechanics of Scientology, and Lawrence Wright has done a magnificent job of providing substantial information that is intriguing and informative. I would award “Going Clear” four out of five stars, with the only flaw being its lengthiness and Wright’s occasional partiality.