Two years ago, Lawrence Wright's New Yorker profile of Paul Haggis about his severed relationship with the Church of Scientology was the talk of Hollywood.
Now Alfred A. Knopf has announced it will publish an expanded book-length version delving into Scientology's history, as well as the lives of such prominent Hollywood followers as John Travolta and Tom Cruise. The book will be published Jan. 17, with Knopf planning a 150,000-copy first printing.
Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief details the history of the church, from its founding by L. Ron Hubbard in the 1950s to its current condition under controversial leader David Miscavige.
“Scientology plays an outsize role in the cast of new religions that have arisen in the 20th century,” Wright said in a statement. “I was drawn to write this book by the questions many people have about Scientology: What is it that makes this religion alluring? What do its adherents get out of it? How can rational-seeming people subscribe to beliefs that others find incomprehensible? Why do popular personalities associate themselves with a faith that is likely to create public relations martyrdom?”
The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist's book also delves into the church's financial status, as well as its standing in Hollywood. Cruise in particular has been under the microscope in the wake of his divorce from Katie Holmes and the allegations in a Vanity Fair article that Scientology leaders auditioned a girlfriend for him.
The genesis for the book was Wright's February2011 New Yorker article "The Apostate." The author interviewed more than 200 current and former Scientologists over a three-year period.
The Hollywood Reporter reported last year that the book was originally intended to be a Scientology exposé explored through the eyes of Haggis and his family, entitled The Heretic of Hollywood: Paul Haggis vs. the Church of Scientology. But the direction of the book changed.