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on 3 October 2017
A glimpse in to a frightening world. Highly recommended.
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on 12 August 2015
Having recently read 'Bare-Faced Messiah', the biography of L Ron Hubbard, much of the first portion of this book was going over familiar territory for me, from another angle. Post Hubbard's death, the book took me to new places - and new nutty landscapes of Scientology and its gormless celebrity followers. I hesitate to comment too much more, in fear of being targetted by outraged Scientologists! Let's just say, Wright's book tells the story of this crazy cult very well and makes one wonder at mankind's willingness to be conned, fleeced and manipulated in the name of 'religion'. I was eager to read the book in advance of seeing the current film it has inspired. Recommended for anyone curious about Scientology and its followers.
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on 24 June 2013
I remember Wright's essays on Paul Haggis in The New Yorker, and it's good to see the larger context of that story filled in here. Clearly, the book has been well-researched, and it is well written and perhaps as well organized as the multiple story lines allow. My only real criticism -- and it's not a very damaging one -- is that in covering the last 25 years or so, Mr Wright has so many stories to juggle -- Cruise, Travolta, Miscavige, Tommy Davis (Anne Archer's son), Haggis, Marty Rathbun and a few others -- that some transitions within the later chapters are a bit sudden. It's not easy to see, though, that this amount of material could have been handled in any other way. Also, earlier, I was a bit surprised by the efficiency with which L. Ron Hubbard was able to mount Operation Snow White in 1973 -- it wasn't clear to me that the cult was that well organized at that time on the scale needed to carry that off. Still, the accounts of Hubbard and Miscavige are illuminating, and the way in which we are enabled to understand the cult's connection to the entertainment industry (and through that understand why it might not have sought to maximize political connections) is testimony to Wright's clarity and diligence. There are things said here about Tom Cruise that, if untrue, would open Wright and his publisher to a libel suit. I'm betting that won't happen, and that tells you all you need to know.

In his final chapter, Wright raises the issue of what exactly a "religion" is -- an issue that for all sorts of reasons, but mainly having to do with tax liability, is important to Scientologists. He mentions that Mormonism, starting from very sketchy foundations, has now come to be accepted as "mainstream," and is at least leaving open the possibility that Scientology might make it to that level. I suppose that could happen, but I wonder whether if Mormonism had sprung up in our media-saturated internet age and connected to "entertainment" (as opposed to establishing itself politically in a limited geographic space) it could have made it to where it is today. I suspect that the early scandals would have doomed it. Wright's book might be read in connection with Jon Krakauer's fine "Under the Banner of Heaven," a book about the history and culture of Mormonism that wears its heart on its sleeve a bit more than Wright does. Wright's achievement, though, is to let Scientology condemn itself out of its own mouth -- the quotations from people inside the organization, from Hubbard on, are just devastating.
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on 4 April 2014
Well written, packed full of information, everything you want to know about this cult. Hard to believe anyone would be a scientologist.
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VINE VOICEon 12 May 2013
Scientologists hate this book, but that is because it is very well researched, and written by a serious journalist. Despite the number of negative reviews (I wonder who wrote them?) this is an excellent reference book and a compelling read.

Scientology, cooked up by a popular science fiction writer, has made billions of dollars but destroyed so many lives. Like Jim Jones, Rev. Moon, Joseph Smith and other cult leaders, the sad tale of L Ron Hubbard is now exposed.
Supply of this book keeps getting halted and may eventually dry up - get one as soon as you can. Resources like this don't turn up everyday!

This isn't a novel or a gawdy expose by a tabloid writer, this is a serious piece of work that will take a serious reader to plough through it, but it is in a class of its own in tersm of its rigour and credibility.

Well done Lawrence Wright on yet another excellent book!
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on 18 February 2013
Lawrence doesn't skimp on the research and it shows. Despite a couple of known inaccuracies I found the book to be an excellent narrative that gives the reader a well rounded history of this nefarious organisation from its roots right up to the present. Some have accused the book of being too light on what attracts people to Scientology; obviously there are benefits to the philosophy that appeal otherwise no one would get involved. But then again others have accused the book of not being more clear that it is a cult, and why.

My own view is that Lawrence has done a good job of laying out most of the salient points while remaining impartial. There is also plenty of fascinating anecdotes about Hubbard and those who worked close to him for many years. It probably doesn't answer the question "what is Scientology" comprehensively, but that wasn't probably the goal of the book. To get a more rounded picture of the subject itslef, and where it's gone off the rails in recent times, Marty Rathbun's offerings, The Scientology Reformation and What is Wrong with Scientology are both recommended.
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on 19 February 2013
An incredibly insightful and brave look into the inner workings of a notorious cult of personality. Satisfying from the outset this book weaves a detailed and sometimes terrifying story of how L Ron Hubbard turned himself from author to messiah, and along the way tore apart the lives of family, followers and critics alike. Despite the immense power of the CoS and the challenges involved in writing about it without suffering the effects of the churches litigious "fair game" policy Wright has remained objective throughout, only allowing his personal opinions to enter the text where they will allow the reader to understand how overwhelming contact with the church can be. A must-read for critics and supporters alike.
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on 6 March 2013
A very readable insight into the birth of the church from it's development by Hubbard, a proponent of the anti-psychiatry movement, as the answer to the world's problems, and onto the leadership by Miscavige who instigated the litigious and bullying tactics that scientology is now becoming famous for.
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on 19 August 2013
I've read my fair share of Scientology criticism and history, but Going Clear is far and away the most well-written and informative of the lot. And it has plenty of information post 2008 which is missing from many other similar works.

Yes it does rehash many of the well-known stories, it also has some fantastic work around David Miscavige's early years and what really happened in the lead up to Quentin Hubbard's suicide.

This book is both an indictment of Scientology itself and, through the attempted suppression by the Church, Britain's terrible libel laws. Onwards to the reformation (or abolition) of both!
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on 8 February 2013
This book is very well researched and unashamably impartial with respect to the subject of the church of scientology. Recommended for anyone even thinking about joining the church of scientology and those still in.

I sincerely hope those still caught will some how recognise the trap through works such as this and at the same time find a way out.

My message to those still trapped is we exist in a time when evangelical pastors who become atheist can find a way out of their livelihood so there is hope for everyone who realises their lives are based on a lie.
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