Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief” as Want to Read:
Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

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

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  16,893 ratings  ·  2,649 reviews
A clear-sighted revelation, a deep penetration into the world of Scientology by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the now-classic study of al-Qaeda's 9/11 attack, the Looming Tower. 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 extr ...more
Hardcover, First Edition, 372 pages
Published January 17th 2013 by Alfred A. Knopf (first published January 1st 2013)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Going Clear, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Going Clear

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
brian
This is a vile viscous book which is a pack of lies!!!! And lawrence writght hates the first amendmant and free speech and religous freedom and -- heh heh heh. not really. lawrence wright is the living badass who's written all about religion & the 'prison of belief', most notable for his truly great pulitzer prize winning study of radical islam, the looming tower.

i've written elsewhere in these hallowed halls of goodreads about the will to believe -- about how, atheist grouch and PTS/SP* th
...more
Moira Russell
I have really mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, I don't want to give it a bad rating, because I don't think it's a bad book, and I really appreciate all the time and effort Wright and hundreds of other people (seriously: read the acknowledgements) put into investigating Scientology. He is almost painfully even-handed, even if the rain-on-the-roof effect of the constant footnotes cementing the Wall of Denial "the church" is trying to put up around his findings ("Tom Cruise has neve ...more
Eric Kibler
What a terrible and scurrilous attack on a noble and helpful religion! What a libel against its honest and self-effacing founder and prophet, L. Ron Hubbard! And upon its current and not at all insane leader, David Miscavige, who is by no means a sadistic tyrant! And upon Tom Cruise, who is not at all a megalomaniacal weirdo!






Psst...is everyone gone? Is it safe? Okay, I really liked this book. It's a hard hitting exposé of Scientology that has to be read to be believed. That first paragraph above
...more
William1
What a hoot! A religion started by a bad science-fiction writer. OMG, the greed, the debauchery, the paranoia, the totalitarian re-education camps, the power trips, the murders, the mayhem, the countless lives ruined, the advent of the petty sociopath David Miscavige. And I thought the history of the Roman Catholic church was scandalous. It is, but the Church of Scientology is giving that hoary institution a run for its money —and it's all about the money of course. The Roman Catholic Church has ...more
Bill  Kerwin

Not an untypical story of a modern cult: a paranoid narcissist with a few interesting ideas starts a religion, abuses his followers, and nearly implodes a couple of times before a sadomasochistic sociopath takes the reins, summoning dark order out of chaos. Narcissist recedes into background, sociopath assumes complete control, narcissist dies, and everything runs more smoothly and more evilly than before. Until all of a sudden it doesn't.

This is a dreary book, for both these two--the narcissist
...more
Paquita Maria Sanchez
Wright gets an extra star and my slack-jawed admiration for his willingness to face stalking, slander, harassment, and a potential avalanche of bankrupting litigation in order to write a book that his own UK publisher wouldn't even release for fear of the retaliatory powers of what I initially thought was just a bunch of kooky, celebrobsessed Fox Mulder types, but who are actually just a 100% fucking terrifying cult, cult, cult who sues or smears or snuffs out anyone and everyone who gets in the ...more
Erik Simon
Gee what wonderful people, those Scientologists. And I'm not just saying that because they hounded and harrassed and almost drove to suicide a journalist in the seventies who exposed them. Or because they hunt down and try to ruin the lives of anyone who leaves the church, which can't be true, because they said it isn't, and I believe everything they say because gee, they're just such wonderful, sane people. And honestly, I don't believe David Miscavige, the current church's leader, physically a ...more
Amy
I honestly don't understand how anyone could have listened to L. Ron Hubbard and thought, "Yeah, that guy knows what he's talking about."
I'm almost done with this book but I think my favorite part just happened. A scientologist was offended by the notion of the leader, David Miscavige, being compared to Martin Luther King, Jr. The notion that someone would consider that to be an unfavorable association actually made me laugh out loud.

Fascinating. Just fascinating.
Adam Yoshida
"It is like history writ with lightning. My only regret is that it is all so terribly true."
- Woodrow Wilson, on first viewing "The Birth of a Nation"

In "Going Clear" Lawrence Wright does something that surprised me: he managed to make Scientology (or, at least, the people who run the Church) more repellant to me than they were going in, but he also manages to satisfactorily explain how such an organization could come to be and why people would follow it. This is a masterful feat.

It's clear enou
...more
Mara
Quick and Dirty Analysis (I know I can get long-winded)
Good book, well-researched, that will tell you all you want to know (and possibly more) about the inner workings of Scientology.

"Man, when you lose your laugh you lose your footing." - Ken Kesey
I think a good litmus test for people, movements, groups etc., is their ability to laugh at themselves. Yes, some things in life are very serious, but almost anything, when taken to an extreme, becomes humorously absurd. Consequently, one of the re
...more
Heidi
This book was well researched,and very scary. I only knew bits and pieces about Scientology, mostly that they believe in aliens. Other than that I had no idea. Hubbard seemed to be suffering from some kind of psychotic illness. The biography part of just Ron Hubbard is unstable and strange. It's like reading how to be a psychotic con man 101. I always question how people suspend rational thought long enough to believe in any religion. I really liked Lawrence explaining that people who join these ...more
Nancy Oakes
Once in a while you pick up a book that just literally blows you away, and for me, Going Clear is one of these. From the first words through the last, I have to say I was completely mesmerized and well entrenched in this page turner of a book -- even missing a day on a Maui beach to finish it -- some of the stuff in here is so unbelievable that you just know it has to be real. If you're an ardent Scientologist, you probably won't want to read this book, but for anyone who's interested in looking ...more
Laura
Harrowing, well-written and researched.
Yet at two crucial points the narrative jumped to a head-scratching conclusion. First, you have a litany of L. Ron Hubbard's spiraling downward: poor health (physical and mental) and inability to make a living. Suddenly this person has written Dianetics. Same with how David Miscavige suddenly elbows aside LRH's chosen successors. Not enough info about how he did it and where he came from.

The book's conclusion was unsatisfying. It trails off in Paul Haggis's
...more
Trish
This 2013 National Book shortlist nominee for the Nonfiction Award is in many ways a classic of investigative journalism. There is practically nothing Wright left out about the ways and means the Church of Scientology was established and how it continues. Considering the Church is shrouded in secrecy and its documents confidential, this was a strenuous bit of digging. His thoughts at the end of the book are enlightening, especially the bit about art—how this church seems deficient in artworks, t ...more
Hadrian
The first part of this book is about L. Ron Hubbard, and his success in formulating a new religion, and carrying out his somewhat paranoid desires of domestic espionage. Reminds me a lot of Max Weber's treatment of 'institutional charisma', as well as a look at LRH's personal paranoia, yet staggering creativity, to create a theology from whole cloth.

The second is an evenhanded look at the more sensational and deranged behavior of the church post 1989. David Miscavige's behavior is Maoist, with
...more
Lobstergirl
Apr 17, 2014 Lobstergirl rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: John Koskinen
Shelves: religion

I suspect I'm like a lot of people - I thought of Scientology as some goofy, ridiculous, idiotic self-help system that sucked thousands of dollars out of people's pockets - albeit one with unjustifiable tax-exempt status. It's so much worse. The stories of abuse are pretty horrendous - back in the L. Ron Hubbard days, Sea Org members who needed to be punished for something would be "overboarded" from the large ship they lived on - the first person was dropped from a height of four stories but th
...more
Carol
Incredibly interesting tale of L Ron Hubbard and Scientology. Wright considers all viewpoints and tries to help the reader understand what made Hubbard tick and why so many people followed his teachings. The most abhorrent aspects of Scientology were its totalitarian hold on the lives of its followers. Conformity at all costs: separating families, incarcerating people for minor "infractions" including non-conformism, spying, and rounding up runaways to bring them back. Everyone knows that John T ...more
Sarah
May 02, 2013 Sarah rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2013
Reading this I thought I'd learn more about Scientology's secret doctrine. Just what exactly do they teach at OT III (answer: it's crazy)... Who was L Ron Hubbard (answer: a crazy person, to say the least)... But this book is also a whole lot more. I was shocked to learn about many of the abuses perpetrated by church leaders against lower ranked Scientologists. Shocked to read about the level to which Tom Cruise and other celebrities are complicit in these abuses (especially Tom Cruise). I was l ...more
Julia Silka
This is such a great book, I want to punch someone in the face.

Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, & the Prison of Belief is written in three parts as the name suggests, all equally gripping. I couldn’t put it down. Hard to dispute the content given the thorough research and great journalism by Pulitzer Prize winning author Lawrence Wright. Everyone’s buzzing about it. Just today I heard a report that Tom Cruise’s lawyer declared the book, “boring”. That's all you got? Well, it's not so. It
...more
Kater Cheek
This is an impressively researched book, and I have to admire Wright's courage in covering something as controversial as Scientology. I enjoyed this (audio) book not so much because I had a curiosity about Scientology, but because it helped me solidify my feelings about religion and religious freedom and the difference between a cult and a religion. So this review is going to be as much essay as review, and if you're religious, you will probably feel insulted.

The book starts out as a biography o
...more
Tosh
New Yorker writer Lawrence Wright's take on Scientology, which is a combination of scary and super interesting. It is sort of two books in one. The first part deals with L. Ron Hubbard, pulpy science fiction writer who founded a cause, a religion, a movement that is very much part of the Southern California landscape. But he took it further then any other spiritual movement or church. When I read this part I thought of Howard Hughes. And also thought of the film "The Master" who is clearly based ...more
Beata R
This reads like a crime novel, and is at times as improbable as it is fascinating. What is improbable is that this "religion" has committed basic human rights violations, committed tax fraud, and shamelessly manipulated the public without repercussion- while also filling its coffers in tax havens around the world. The fact that cults like Scientology and Mormon sects like the Church of Latter Day Saints succeed in violating constitutional laws on a daily basis while being shielded by the religio ...more
Zach
Going Clear is an astonishing feat of reporting by Lawrence Wright. It requires significant courage to take on Scientology, as any reader of this book will quickly appreciate. Obviously, I already knew that Scientology was a ludicrous (and litigious) cult and that L. Ron Hubbard practiced a uniquely American blend of fraud and schizophrenia. But before Wright's lengthy New Yorker article - and now this book - I did not realize that it was built on a foundation of violence, human trafficking, and ...more
Chris
I was never much of a Tom Cruise fan, so when he went on the Today and acted like the completer A** he apparently is, it become quite easy for me to boycott his movies. Yes, there is most likely some truth to the accusation that we over medicate; however, I know that I would not be here typing this if I hadn't been put on anti-depressents. Cruise's statement about post partum depression, I found to be only outdone by his comments about Katie Holmes overcoming hers because of diet and what all. H ...more
Shaun
So this is basically 300 plus pages of "he says" "they say," a book that delves into the origin and evolution of Scientology, a pseudo-religion/cult with a special following within the celebrity community, touting dedicated members like Tom Cruise and John Travolta.

Sensational and shocking, Wright's book certainly characterizes Scientology as some wacky cult based on incredible claims that could only be spawned in the imagination of a science fiction writer. Yet far from silly-but-harmless, Wrig
...more
Den
Going Clear by Lawrence Wright

There has been a spate of recent books about the Church of Scientology published recently, most of which have not been complimentary to say the least. Everyone who has any dirt to dish on the Church of L. Ron Hubbard seems to have a book on the shelves these days. Lawrence Wright’s Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief takes the reader all the way back to Hubbard’s childhood. Wright attempts to dig through the various contradictory accounts o
...more
Kirsti
Fascinating, disturbing, scrupulously researched history of Scientology. The author is a New Yorker writer and Pulitzer winner. I knew that L. Ron Hubbard founded the Church of Scientology and that it has been investigated in recent years for fraud and financial mismanagement, but I had no idea of the slavery and abuse allegations.

My only complaint about the book is that 370 pages isn't long enough for the subject matter. There could be an entire book on Operation Snow White, in which thousands
...more
Troy Blackford
This was a well-researched read, but it was so good that I feel like talking at length about how good I thought it was would be dangerous.

It was that good.
Heather
There are two schools of thought on Scientology.

The first holds that it's a valid modern religious movement populated by adherents who follow a quirky but spiritually fulfilling philosophy that has led a few to the highest pinnacle of international super-stardom.

The other holds that it's a cult.

Pulitzer Prize winning author Lawrence Wright gives both viewpoints a fair hearing in his new book, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief, and if he tends to come down on the "cul
...more
Ilinca
Having gotten the book from a friend, I was somewhat reluctant to really delve into an account of a religion that I already thought ridiculous in beliefs and dangerous in practices. Once I'd started, though, I found it completely engrossing.
It is not only a very thorough account of Hubbard's recorded existence and tenets, or whatever his utterly ridiculous and contradictory statements were, but also a terrifying account of what lengths people are willing to go to in order to not have their beli
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
WOW. Was anyone as shocked as I was? 10 115 Jul 22, 2014 07:32AM  
Live Video Chat with Lawrence Wright 46 84 May 15, 2013 04:40PM  
Tom Cruise Wife Audition Tapes 2 155 Mar 04, 2013 05:50AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Book Cover for Going Clear e-book edition 2 30 Feb 03, 2013 12:43PM  
  • Inside Scientology: The Story of America's Most Secretive Religion
  • The Church of Fear: Inside the Weird World of Scientology
  • The Revolution Was Televised: The Cops, Crooks, Slingers and Slayers Who Changed TV Drama Forever
  • Blown for Good: Behind the Iron Curtain of Scientology
  • Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape
  • Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism
  • Rapture Ready!: Adventures in the Parallel Universe of Christian Pop Culture
  • Prophet's Prey: My Seven-Year Investigation into Warren Jeffs and the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints
  • Lost At Sea: The Jon Ronson Mysteries
  • The Skies Belong to Us: Love and Terror in the Golden Age of Hijacking
  • Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement
  • Stories from Jonestown
  • Whitey Bulger: America's Most Wanted Gangster and the Manhunt That Brought Him to Justice
  • A Thousand Lives: The Untold Story of Hope, Deception, and Survival at Jonestown
  • Days of Fire: Bush and Cheney in the White House
  • Why Priests?
  • Bare-Faced Messiah: The True Story Of L. Ron Hubbard
  • A Piece of Blue Sky: Scientology, Dianetics, and L. Ron Hubbard Exposed
4258
Lawrence Wright is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American author, screenwriter, staff writer for The New Yorker magazine, and fellow at the Center for Law and Security at the New York University School of Law. He is a graduate of Tulane University, and for two years taught at the American University in Cairo in Egypt.

Wright graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School (Dallas, Texas) in 1965 and, in 2009
...more
More about Lawrence Wright...
The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 Thirteen Days in September: Carter, Begin, and Sadat at Camp David Remembering Satan Twins: And What They Tell Us about Who We Are Saints and Sinners: Walker Railey, Jimmy Swaggart, Madalyn Murray O'Hair, Anton LaVey, Will Campbell , Matthew Fox

Share This Book

“The baby boom eventually prompted Hubbard to order that no one could get pregnant without his permission; according to several Sea Org members, any woman disobeying his command would be "off-loaded" to another Scientology organization or flown to New York for an abortion.” 2 likes
“VERY EARLY ONE MORNING in July 1977, the FBI, having been tipped off about Operation Snow White, carried out raids on Scientology offices in Los Angeles and Washington, DC, carting off nearly fifty thousand documents. One of the files was titled “Operation Freakout.” It concerned the treatment of Paulette Cooper, the journalist who had published an exposé of Scientology, The Scandal of Scientology, six years earlier. After having been indicted for perjury and making bomb threats against Scientology, Cooper had gone into a deep depression. She stopped eating. At one point, she weighed just eighty-three pounds. She considered suicide. Finally, she persuaded a doctor to give her sodium pentothal, or “truth serum,” and question her under the anesthesia. The government was sufficiently impressed that the prosecutor dropped the case against her, but her reputation was ruined, she was broke, and her health was uncertain. The day after the FBI raid on the Scientology headquarters, Cooper was flying back from Africa, on assignment for a travel magazine, when she read a story in the International Herald Tribune about the raid. One of the files the federal agents discovered was titled “Operation Freakout.” The goal of the operation was to get Cooper “incarcerated in a mental institution or jail.” 2 likes
More quotes…