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Secret Societies: Inside the World's Most Notorious Organizations

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Overview

A comprehensive, behind-the-scenes look at the world's most notorious secret societies, including their origins and histories, initiations and rituals, secret signs and members.

They generate fear, suspicion, and-above all-fascination. Secret societies live among us, yet they remain a mystery. Their secrecy can suggest sacrilege or crime, and their loyalties are often accused of undermining governments and tipping the scales of justice. The Freemasons, for example, hold more ...

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Secret Societies: Inside the Freemasons, the Yakuza, Skull and Bones, and the World's Most Notorious Secret Organizations

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Overview

A comprehensive, behind-the-scenes look at the world's most notorious secret societies, including their origins and histories, initiations and rituals, secret signs and members.

They generate fear, suspicion, and-above all-fascination. Secret societies live among us, yet they remain a mystery. Their secrecy can suggest sacrilege or crime, and their loyalties are often accused of undermining governments and tipping the scales of justice. The Freemasons, for example, hold more seats of power in the U.S. government than any other organization. No fewer than sixteen presidents have declared their Masonic affiliation, and there may have been more. Secret societies have infiltrated pop culture, too. Celebrity members of Kabbalah include Madonna, Demi Moore, and Elizabeth Taylor, among others. From the Mafia and the Yakuza to the Priory of Sion and Skull & Bones, Reynolds offers an illuminating and entertaining exploration of the stories-confirmed and fabricated-that surround these societies. Dispelling myths and providing gripping revelations-such as a direct historical link between the Assassins of the Middle Ages and today's Al Qaeda-Secret Societies gives us a smart, surprising look at the best known and often least understood covert organizations.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Canadian mystery writer Reynolds's irreverent guide lacks an overarching thesis or philosophical dimension yet is packed with playfully presented information. The author begins by describing the 11th-century Iranian-based cult known as the Assassins, noting its obvious parallels with al-Qaeda. Next, he traces the history of the Freemasons and the Illuminati, observing that "[a]ny review of U.S. history encounters Freemasons lurking behind every treaty, battle and statute." He then proceeds to sketch the complex history of the French cabal the Priory of Sion; details the belief systems of the Druids and Gnostics and their differing attitudes to secrecy; and explores how followers of the Kabbalah, "neither a religion nor an organization," came to be considered "secretive and sinister" (Reynolds comments lightheartedly on how "the Kabbalah was transformed into a supermarket of pious accoutrements" by the Kabbalah Center in L.A.). Chapters on Triads, the Mafia and Yakuza are adept in their focus on immigration and minority cultural traditions in American society. Reynolds is most provocative when drawing links between Skull and Bones and the CIA. He closes with a brief history of conspiracy theory, anti-Semitism and the risks of paranoid allegations. B&w photos. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781559708463
  • Publisher: Arcade Publishing
  • Publication date: 10/8/2007
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

John Lawrence Reynolds has written sixteen books of fiction and nonfiction and has won awards in both categories. He lives with his wife, Judy, in a small North American town, the location of which is secret.

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Table of Contents

Introduction : fools, fears and fanatics 11
1 The assassins : nothing is true, everything is permitted 19
2 Templars, illuminati and freemasons : the secret seat of power 43
3 Priory of sion : keepers of the Holy Grail 77
4 Druids and gnostics : knowledge and the eternal soul 101
5 Kabbalah : origins of the apocalypse 119
6 Rosicrucians : the pursuit of esoteric wisdom 139
7 Triads : cultural criminals 157
8 The Mafia and Cosa Nostra : wise guys and businessmen 173
9 Yakuza : traditions and amputations 199
10 Wicca : the great goddess and the horned god 209
11 Skull & bones : America's secret establishment 229
12 Secret societies in popular culture : an endless fascination 253
13 Critics, alarmists and conspiracy theorists : when does paranoia make sense? 271
Afterword : of demons and baloney 295
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 21, 2012

    Helped me to understand

    Reynolds exposes the fabricated connections and inner workings. In one case even a group that probably never existed.

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