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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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