The many endnotes in Lawrence Wright’s book on the church, “Going Clear,” are the first clue that this author is not fooling around. Sixnotes explain facts on the introduction’s first page, and they multiply from there, 40 pages worth, wedged between the bibliography and the acknowledgments, not including the footnotes in the text itself, which signal “he said, she said”-type differences of opinion and feature boilerplate denials from lawyers and publicists. (One of my favorites reads, in part, “Cruise’s attorney says that no Scientology executives set him up with girlfriends, and that no female Scientologist that Cruise dated moved into his home.”)
Scientology has for almost all of its history been one of the most notoriously secretive and litigious religious organizations in the world, its leaders among the most paranoid and obfuscating. In this book, Wright, a staff writer at the New Yorker and winner of a 2007 Pulitzer Prize for “The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11,” brings a clear-eyed, investigative fearlessness to Scientology — its history, its theology, its hierarchy — and the result is a rollicking, if deeply creepy, narrative ride, evidence that truth can be stranger even than science fiction.
Read it all.
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