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EXCLUSIVE: Lawrence Wright’s Scientology epic ‘Going Clear’ finally getting U.K. release


Three years after it was first published in the U.S., Lawrence Wright’s monumental book Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief will be published in the U.K. for the first time on March 17 by Silvertail Books.

Wright’s book grew out of a February 2011 article in The New Yorker, where he’s a staff writer, and the book was the basis for Alex Gibney’s Emmy-winning 2015 documentary, also titled Going Clear. But until now, Wright had been unable to find a publisher in England willing to put out his controversial book about the notoriously litigious church.

Humfrey Hunter’s small imprint, Silvertail, is releasing Going Clear as a paperback and ebook, and will be testing Scientology’s resolve in a country where it’s easier to sue a publisher and win.

Full disclosure: Silvertail is also the publisher of The Unbreakable Miss Lovely, our history of Scientology’s attempt to destroy the life of journalist Paulette Cooper. Hunter also published John Sweeney’s 2013 book about Scientology, Church of Fear, and brought back into print Russell Miller’s biography of L. Ron Hubbard, Bare-Faced Messiah.

And now, with Going Clear, Hunter shows again that he’s not afraid to take on the church. Says Hunter: “This is a book that deserves to be published in the U.K., by an author whose achievements as an investigative journalist are extraordinary. Lawrence’s integrity, courage, and perseverance in the face of intense pressure are things to celebrate and I am delighted Silvertail is publishing Going Clear.”

As for Wright himself, we asked what he was thinking as his book becomes much easier for readers in England to acquire. “It’s about time a British publisher stepped up and gave the readers of the UK a chance to learn the truth about the Church of Scientology,” he told us. “Going Clear is a fascinating human tale that explores the question of why people devote themselves to exotic beliefs that can so radically alter their lives and lead to significant human rights abuses.”

When the book was first published in January 2013, it received near unanimous positive reviews, and one of the more memorable ones was Michael Kinsley’s piece in the New York Times. “That crunching sound you hear is Lawrence Wright bending over backward to be fair to Scientology,” Kinsley wrote. And he went on to say…

Wright is well advised to be calm and seem neutral in his presentation of the Scientology story, since the group has been known to make life miserable for its critics, its favorite weapon being the lawsuit, often brought in order to bury the defendant in legal costs and hassles. The purpose of a lawsuit is “to harass and discourage rather than to win,” Hubbard said. Perhaps, though, this knowledge that any mistake will be abnormally costly does lend added credibility to Wright’s vast research and reporting.

So far, Wright hasn’t been sued. But he has been the target of online shenanigans by the church, which has posted cartoonish attacks on Wright and Alex Gibney at its Freedom magazine website, as well as elsewhere.

Freedom assigned a man named Dan Luzadder to research Wright and his book, and Luzadder has showed up at some of Wright’s appearances around the country. We saw him ask a question at a talk Wright gave last year with the main subject of his book, director Paul Haggis, at an event hosted at the New York Times. Wright deftly handled Luzadder’s query. Then, in June, on our own book tour stop in Denver, where Luzadder lives, he showed up at our talk.

Before he went to work for Scientology and its propaganda organ, Freedom, Luzadder was a legitimate reporter and was even part of a team that won a Pulitzer in 1983 for coverage of an Indiana flood. We found it stunning, however, when Luzadder told us that he had set out to prove that Wright did no research at all for his 365-page book. We had to ask him a couple of times — was he serious about that? Luzadder insisted that he would prove there was no research behind Going Clear. Those Scientology paychecks must be amazing.

Of course, readers in the United Kingdom will soon learn what a monumental amount of research actually did go into Wright’s book. To gather material that had previously been unpublished, Wright spoke to hundreds of former church members — we know, because we’ve talked to them too, and they all told us about what a thrill it was to talk to Larry Wright, not only a consummate journalist but also a man who makes a strong impression with his humility and gentle nature.

Pick up a copy of Going Clear, and we think you’ll see that Larry’s humanity comes through as he examines what Scientologists have suffered through in their “prison of belief.” It’s really a masterpiece.


Lawrence Wright [Credit: Jana Birchum]

Lawrence Wright [Credit: Jana Birchum]


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on March 2, 2016 at 19:00

E-mail tips and story ideas to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information about the book, and our 2015 book tour, can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…

BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of L.A. attorney and former church member Vance Woodward
UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists
GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice
SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts

Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | Scientology boasts about assistance from Google | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

Our Guide to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear,’ and our pages about its principal figures…
Jason Beghe | Tom DeVocht | Sara Goldberg | Paul Haggis | Mark “Marty” Rathbun | Mike Rinder | Spanky Taylor | Hana Whitfield


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  • new bollocks

    [server’s being squiffy so you might need to try a few times]

    … includes DListed (on topic) caption comp winner that’s a bit too naughty to post here

    bonus gif

    weather reporter problems

    • Dice

      Shut up woman 🙂

    • OTVIIIisGrrr8!

      lush, the Scientology ad was not FOS as you have claimed. The ad was rather too advanced and futuristic for homo saps and their so-called wog technologies to understand. In 10,000 years the ad will be proven to have been true: Scientology will help tens of millions of people in the future.

      For now, however, Scientology only helps 17,834 people including Sea Org members. Based on the trend Scientology will be helping less than 12,000 people next year at this time. However, when COB releases GAT III in 2018 everything will change and be better. All of the Orgs will be St. Hill sized and President Trump will have made attacking religion libelous, illegal, and punishable by death.

      Good times are ahead for the Church of Scientology; we just have to endure this present time of travail as we are seemingly adrift and rudderless in a vast ocean of irrelevance and impotent rage.

      • Cedilla

        Want to travail the high seas?
        Call 1-800 Captain Miscavige.
        The “Tom” Cruise lines.
        “Not Reg Free”

  • ReallyMGM

    Since it is “after hours bunker time thought I would mention that my MRI has been move forward to early tommorrow morning (Thursday) None of the symptoms have gotten better, most are worse, and new ones have appeared (and I do mean “appear!) I knew what visual “floaters” were but never imagined how interesting some of the shapes can be. Mind blowing!

    Depending what goes on, my husband will type for me here (using my name) several groups where I am a part.of the commenting community. I’ve also given PlanetJ (that sweet breath of Sourthen hospitality,) since she has offered to help him navigate The Bunker if needed. (She is also a kick ass Zeppelin fan (my sista) and we have concert plans this summer.

    Excuse the myriad (another of my FAVORITE words)) of errors even though I used voice to txt app. It just takes a half hour per sentence now. If I go back and edit to the point that makes me happy, I’d never post.

    Looking forward to my pre-procedure Xanax just a bit tooooo much! Have sweet hubby driving and hopefully stopping me from saying something goofy under the influence!

    • Juicer77

      Saying some prayers for you, RMGM. I hope you get some relief soon.

    • Cedilla

      If I may ask. What are the symptoms?
      Headaches?. Can’t see?
      Obviously, I missed earlier posts.

      • ReallyMGM

        Severe double vision only when I read or write, right now….but ver dramatic symptoms. Not just a couple of word, entire books, iPads, kindles,in multiple…some lined up straight, some sideways.
        Dizziness around places with wild wall paper or carpet design
        Can’t type without having someone do it for me or voice to txt app. If not foreign languages appear.
        Neck pain c2-6

        The wallpaper one is the one that brought me to my knees…was like an acid trip.

        Driving fine

        • Cedilla

          I’m sorry to hear that.
          I will be thinking of you, MGM.

        • Dice

          whutt… Driving 🙂 on the bright side you have two of everything and more choices.
          Hope it’s get better.

    • Newiga

      You’ll be in my thoughts! Stay strong! <3

      • ReallyMGM

        I usually post things that seem like I am drunk anyway, nut I’m not….but Sat night was a f’ing nightmare

    • salin

      I will be holding you tight in my thoughts and heart this morning. Hope that some answers are found that give an indication of what can be done to reverse the symptoms you have been experiencing. Sending you many hugs. <3 !!

  • madame duran

    SO. MUCH. WIN.

  • ReallyMGM

    Shout outs to Lawrence Wright’s “Going Clear, ” being released in the. U.K.

    When GC came out, I bought it and began reading it before hearing all the media hoopla (scientologists) because as someone who has read his other articles and books, they are always honest, well-researched, subjects are interviewed with compassion (even the nastiest ones), but the book would ultimately serve to be a fair stories of the people and how they saw themself within this faith. One thing I have learned is how many got in on a simple premise,”to make the world better,” and found out their chosen faith needed $$ and self defense classes. (If not for their body, at least their mind.)

    I’ve followed Wrights writings since a story he wrote for “The New Yorker,” in late 1993, titled “The Orphans of Jonestown.” The image was not three children, but three almost middle-aged men, still coming to gripes with what had happened, their guilt over whether they could they have changed the outcome, and how did they piece their lives back together with no money, all friends/family dead and the Americanh public declaring survivors as the criminals. It was a long form piece that is still available at the New Yorker only. It is very well, copyright protected…as it should be..

    After I read that article, I tried to read as much L wright wrote as my credit cards would bear! The one I haven’t tackled and I feel bad about is “The Looming Towers.” Will there be more added with the fluid situation in the Islamic nations around the word?

    see y’all after the MRI

    • Juicer77

      I’m working my way through The Looming Towers audiobook right now. It’s really detailed and I keep stopping to absorb things. Best of luck with the MRI – happy Xanaxing!

    • Missionary Kid

      May the MRI contain all good news. I’ve got my fingers crossed for you.

    • aquaclara

      Now I want to go find the New Yorker article. I have the Looming Tower, and it is an excellent, detailed (no surprise there) read. Takes a bit to work through because of the length, but you will never regret the time spent reading it.

  • madame duran

    Just droppin’ a .gif to express my feelings on this monumental three-post day.

    • Cedilla

      Oh, my gosh.
      What laughs that show was.
      Junior Mint.
      What fun!

  • 0tessa

    What a overwelmingly good news today!

    • Dice

      in case you haven’t noticed… there are 3 blog postings! and tony is taken the day off… nahh! he just going to be a bit later. poor guy!

  • Missionary Kid

    I stumbled on a copy of Bare-faced Messiah in a used book store years ago and bought it, not understanding that it hadn’t been published in the U.S. because of legal threats. Since LRH was dead, I assume that the strict libel laws didn’t apply in the UK.

    Now, hearing that Going Clearis going to be published in the U.K. in spite of those same laws, it makes me happy. The truth is the perfect defense against any libel case, so it would be wonderful to have $cientology sue and have all of their dirty laundry out in open court. I hope that they are that stupid, even though it could be expensive to defend against any suit.

    • Dice

      They can’t uphold such law anymore since the Internet… it’s game over for this kind of shit. Someone once said: Technology will always be above the law!

      • Missionary Kid

        The law hasn’t been nullified, so a suit can still be launched.

        • Dice

          sure but whats the point? many laws has to be upgraded to match new inventions – just look at driver-less cars or what you call them or drones.

          • Missionary Kid

            As long as a law is on the books, a suit can be launched. It doesn’t matter that the world has changed.

            Anyone can say that technology is above the law, but try that tactic in a court, and you’ll lose.

      • The Internet was designed as a decentralised communication system. As an unforeseen consequence, it interprets censorship as damage and tries (usually successfully) to route around it.

        This makes it trivially easy to get around the legal suppression of books (and repressive uses of copyright, for that matter) without getting caught.

        That is, perhaps, not the same thing as being above the law.

        • Dice

          Yeah! I see what you mean.

    • Cedilla

      “I stumbled on a copy of Bare-faced Messiah”


      • Missionary Kid

        I shoulda said, “came across.”

    • In a strange reversal of the usual, when BFM was published, the UK publisher fought court action by the CofS and won (on the grounds that publication of the book was in the public interest) while US courts put the copyright protection of previously unpublished material (upon which the book depended) above the public interest.

      I read it when it was first published in the UK (around 1988) in paperback and still own the book.

      I believe Silvertail books also publish a new, revised edition.

      PS relatively recent reforms ( the Defamation Act 2003 which passed into law on January the 1st 2014) have swept those old, repressive libel laws aside. They are still strict, but no so easy to exploit.

  • Andrea ‘i-Betty’ Garner

    This is so exciting and overdue. Trust Silvertail to have the courage to publish it. Brits (and beyond), if Lawrence Wright comes over here to publicise it, shall we have a party?

  • donald king

    Good news about ‘Going Clear’ becoming available here in UK bookshops. In fact, Scientology wasted a lot of money stopping this. I bought the book from the USA the minute it came out. The documentary has been shown on TV, and you can buy it on Amazon. It’s virtually impossible to ban books these days. Don’t Scientology know this?

    • Missionary Kid

      $cientology doesn’t care. They just want to attack anything they don’t like, and cause as much pain for anyone holding different opinions. Their problem now is that the Miscavige effect is in full force: it brings attention to their evil and pisses people off at them even more. (It’s their special version of the Streisand effect).

  • Stay Puft

    I expect Slappy will arrange for Top Gun to turn up in London in a couple of weeks to try and overshadow the publication by appearing in public with a human female girlfriend to get the tabloids all in a tizz.

  • Lighthouse

    A day of wonderful news! Thank you, Tony, for keeping it coming. You are a marvel! Enjoy your break this evening!

  • Stay Puft
    • JOE BLOW

      Pre-makeup shot. No foundation. Puffy around the eyes. Not a good look. Poor Slappy.

  • Test.

    • JOE BLOW

      Comin’ through loud and clear.


    Morning Dave. Remember….always count to 10.


  • Dice

    Phil’s twitter got some interesting responses F5

  • Tony Ortega

    New post is up.

  • Laura Burton
    Saw this and thought of Scientology

  • Fink Jonas

    Three post in a day, wow!!, I never seen Freedom Mag. do that, even thou they have millions and millions of scientologist all over the globe, the same post last for moths or even years, at what speed are they moving clearing the planet from Christianity and suppressives?

  • Lousy Ratatouille

    ‘BEFORE he went to work for Scientology and its propaganda organ, Freedom, Luzadder was a LEGITIMATE reporter and was even part of a team that won a Pulitzer for coverage of ……… ‘ YES, IT SUCKS TO BE A SCIENTOLIGST!
    ‘Luzadder insisted that he would PROVE there is NO RESEARCH behing Going Clear.’ How about the PROVE of any (real) RESEARCH behind Dianetics and Scientology?

  • richelieu jr

    Once again, the Scientology Saga gets such evocative names that it seems almost unreal- The brave little emublisher, lighting beacon of truth on a story shore that has blown out lantern after lantern, leaving ships to founder on the cliffs of Dangerous Religious Sects… His name?

    Humfrey Hunter!

    Strong, bold! A hunter, but with troubling echoes of Nabokov* which a literary soul, like himself cannot be unaware of, yet it is his name, and thus he wears it proudly across what must be his surprisingly strapping chest as his professors shoulders stretch out for the burden he is taking on..

    And in the darker corner, representing Slithering house,t he fallen angel, himself once a reporter seeking truth, today he toadies up to power, whispering the shadows, then printing the slurs in public.. Ladies and Gentlemen, and Slithering equivalents thereof:

    Dan Luzadder!

    Half Black-Adder, Half in it for the LOLZ, Half-Man, Half-Luzer (baby), the man who traded his Pulitzer and sterling reputation for a Bowling Trophy on Steroids and Pewter Plaque that says “CoB’s Venticello: World’s Best Midget-Whisperer and (Hear you can barely ell it used to say “DAD” as they have lovingly sharpied in “DeAD Agenter”, which he received tot he willing sounds of a Wurlitzer jukebox which he doesn’t have the right to touch, if I’ve told you once I’ e old you million times you fucking PTS SP POS!

    *(“Lo-li-ta! say it trippingly off the tongue, looking in a mirror as you do so– watch your lips…)

  • Lighthouse

    Yaay! This is more great news for the victims of scientology! From there, on to Europe? Australia? Russia?