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Excerpts of Lawrence Wright's Book on Scientology are Predictably Awesome

THRExcerptTwo great excerpts from Lawrence Wright’s upcoming book, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, & the Prison of Belief, have appeared in The Hollywood Reporter today, and they are predictably amazing.

The longer piece looks at Tom Cruise’s relationship with Scientology leader David Miscavige, and Cruise’s wavering relationship to Scientology itself. We’ve taken a stab at those subjects ourselves, but Larry puts everything together in such amazing detail and with such deft touch, you just know the rest of the book is going to be like butter.

The shorter excerpt is about John Travolta, told through his former Scientology handler, Spanky Taylor, who has an amazing story of living through the punishment of the Sea Org’s prison detail, the Rehabilitation Project Force. Wright is the first to get her to speak on the record, ever. Maybe it was his Alabama charm.

Get over there, read those excerpts, and then come back here and give us your thoughts!

A couple of first impressions. Spanky’s story is great, and in part for the reason that Tikk (Manhattan lawyer Scott Pilutik) pointed out in the comments — it shows that John Travolta was aware that members were being “rehabilitated” in labor camps. In his 2010 book, Blown for Good, Marc Headley had demonstrated that celebrities were not exempt from the wacky Scientology practices like shouting at ashtrays (which Wright gets into in these excerpts). But Travolta’s knowledge of how Spanky was being treated is a valuable new insight, isn’t it?

Also, we’ve heard about Miscavige’s taste for the finer things over the years, but Wright does such a great job assembling information about that in minute detail, and putting it in a context that we hadn’t quite grasped before — that Miscavige may have developed a lavish lifestyle as a direct result of his relationship with Cruise and exposure to the movie star’s world. Fascinating.

And another detail: We were encouraged to see how often Wright cited Janet Reitman’s book Inside Scientology in his footnotes. Janet’s book still amazes us for the depth of its research, and it certainly deserves the namechecking it gets in these excerpts.

As Kim O’Brien points out, this is one of the best images in these excerpts: “Rathbun assigned Davis to sit with Cruise in the parking lot of a Home Depot in Hollywood while the star was doing his Tone Scale drills — guessing the emotional state of random people coming out of the store.” Wow.

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