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Going Clear by Lawrence Wright

As we continue Bear's descent into her Scientology obsession (this book was actually the fuel for my latest fascination... this book is just much more robust than the others I've recently read so it took me longer to finish), we come to the book that inspired the HBO documentary that everyone was losing their minds over this past Spring. Lawrence Wright is a non-fiction writer and journalist who tends to focus on the inner workings of religious groups . For Going Clear, he risked all of the legal force Scientology subseqently threw at him to give voice to the people who were abused and duped by the leaders of this religion.

This is a bit of a departure from some of the other Scientology books I've been reading lately. Some people I spoke to told me they found Wright's account of the Church of Scientology a bit dry. However, I think it gave a crucial insight into the birth of Scientology that I didn't get from some of the other books I've read lately on the topic. To grasp just how seemingly intelligent people can give their lives, families and life savings up to a cult (because, let's be honest), I think it's important to have an understanding of L. Ron Hubbard's early career and the catalyst for the movement that would come to be known as a religion. While a lot of the books I've read lately focused on modern-day Scientology under the leadership of David Miscavige, a good portion of Going Clear was devoted to telling the founder's story. Don't be mistaken... you'll still get plenty of COB hate in this book as well (which always makes me happy). In fact, this book lent so much credence to the accusations made in Leah Remini's or Jenna Miscavige Hill's books as so many of the players and the claims were echoed in Going Clear. But the birth and history of Scientology explains a lot about how the greedy, abusive and power hungry heads run the church today.


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.

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