Lawrence Wright's investigation of the Church of Scientology, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief (Knopf) is in the news leading up to its January 17 pub date after it was reported January 8 that the book's U.K. publisher, Transworld, had canceled it, seemingly due to the possibility of libel action. Said Transworld's publicity director, Patsy Irwin: "Our legal advice was that some of the content was not robust enough for the UK market and an appropriately edited version would not fit with our schedule. The decision not to publish was taken internally."
Wright won the Pulitzer Prize in 2007 for his last book, The Looming Tower. Going Clear is based on Wright's 2011 article in The New Yorker, "The Apostate." An excerpt has been published in The Hollywood Reporter.
PW's full review is below, or click here to read it in our review archive.
Pulitzer winner Wright (The Looming Tower) expands and carefully footnotes his investigation of Scientology, which began as a 2011 New Yorker article examining the defection of acclaimed screenwriter-director Paul Haggis from the church. The book-length version offers—in persuasive, albeit sometimes mind-numbing, detail—an eye-opening short biography of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard and a long-form journalism presentation of the creature Hubbard birthed: a self-help system complete with bizarre cosmology, celebrity sex appeal, lawyers, consistent allegations of physical abuse, and expensive answers for spiritual consumers. Wright capably sows his thorough reportage into ground broken by Janet Reitman (Inside Scientology, 2011). He poses larger questions about the nature of belief, but can only lay groundwork because he has to fight to establish facts, given the secrecy and controversy surrounding Scientology, and his eyewitnesses are necessarily disenchanted and therefore adversarial. While Wright’s brave reporting offers an essential reality test, an analysis of why this sci-fi and faith brew quenches a quasi-religious thirst in its followers is still needed. First printing 150,000. Agent: Andrew Wylie, the Wylie Agency.