LOS ANGELES A new book by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Lawrence Wright about the Church of Scientology will hit retailers on January 17, publisher Alfred A. Knopf said on Wednesday.
"Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief," will tackle the church's finances among other topics, Knopf said. It is the culmination of three years of research by Wright into the church that counts several Hollywood stars among its followers.
Wright will examine the church's founder, science-fiction novelist L. Ron Hubbard and its relationship with celebrities Tom Cruise and John Travolta.
"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," Wright added. "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?"
A portion of the book was published in The New Yorker magazine in 2010 and was based in part on interviews with "Crash" director Paul Haggis, who recently left the church.
A first printing of 150,000 was ordered, the publisher said.
Wright, 63, won a Pulitzer Prize for his 2006 book "The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11."
(Reporting By Eric Kelsey, editing by Jill Serjeant and Andrew Hay)