Title: Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief
Author: Lawrence Wright
Release Date: November 5, 2013
Genre: Nonfiction, History
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: .4.5 out of 5
In this comprehensive exploration of Scientology, Lawrence Wright traces the life of L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, and how the religion developed and changed over the years, during his life and after his death.
Going Clear is a well-written and informative look at Scientology. It gives the reader a comprehensive look at the history of the religion and how it’s been practiced, using interviews with prominent former members to sketch out a full portrait of the organization.
When my book club chose Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief as our monthly pick, I was excited. This was a book I’d wanted to read for awhile, and I was glad to be doing it knowing there’d be some serious discussion after I was finished. I wasn’t sure what I’d find within its pages, but honestly, nothing could have prepared me for just how strange and weird the contents of this book were.
Let’s start with the journalism. It’s easy to see just how comprehensive Wright was in Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief. The last 1/3 or so of the book is just his notes from interviews and such. Of course, the Church of Scientology denies pretty much everything he prints in the book (and he checks with them for comments on many of the claims), but given Wright’s sources, he’s credible. Not only that, but the book is well-written; it certainly keeps the reader hooked.
Now for the content of Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief. There were honestly times I forgot I was reading nonfiction—that’s just how crazy this book was. I couldn’t believe what I was reading actually occurred, and recently at that. It simply boggles the mind over and over again. Wright delves into many different aspects of Scientology, including the Hollywood angle, and he provides insight into why so many celebrities are initially attracted to the church. It’s interesting, to be sure.
The aspect of Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief that was the most interesting to me was the reason that a normal person would be attracted to the church in the first place, and Wright delves into this. Hubbard’s charismatic leadership was part of the draw, but also, it wasn’t presented as a church at the beginning, just a logical way to solve problems. The church/alien aspects of Scientology (which are pretty strange) came later. All in all, this was an interesting read that was really informative, and it made a great book club pick.