Secrets of the Tomb: Skull and Bones,the Ivy League,and the Hidden Paths of Power

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The Ivy League is Full of Societies and clubs, some public and some very private. But none is as secret as Yale's infamous Skull and Bones. Founded in the nineteenth century and housed in an ominous cryptlike building referred to as "the Tomb," Skull and Bones secretly taps for membership a small number of Yale students each year. All are sworn to secrecy about what goes on inside the Tomb and about how powerful the organization really is. Rumors abound. It has been said that Bonesmen (as its members are known) ...
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Secrets of the Tomb: Skull and Bones, the Ivy League, and the Hidden Paths of Power

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Overview

The Ivy League is Full of Societies and clubs, some public and some very private. But none is as secret as Yale's infamous Skull and Bones. Founded in the nineteenth century and housed in an ominous cryptlike building referred to as "the Tomb," Skull and Bones secretly taps for membership a small number of Yale students each year. All are sworn to secrecy about what goes on inside the Tomb and about how powerful the organization really is. Rumors abound. It has been said that Bonesmen (as its members are known) are so protective of the organization's secrets that they must leave the room if the words skull and bones are uttered. It has been said that the Tomb contains stolen relics such as Geronimo's skull. It has been said that upon graduation from Yale each member is given a substantial sum of money with numerous strings attached. It has even been said that Skull and Bones is the dark heart of a secret world government. People point to a suspicious number of Bonesmen who have gone on to positions of power and influence, deserved or not, including George W. Bush; his father, George H. W. Bush; United States senators; CIA officials; cabinet members; and numerous heads of major international corporations.

Now, in Secrets of the Tomb, acclaimed journalist Alexandra Robbins accomplishes what no one before her ever has. She has managed to get scores of Bonesmen to talk about what really happens inside the Tomb and exactly what influence the organization truly wields. She reveals for the first time who has been a member and what that membership has meant. Robbins takes us inside the Tomb and onto Skull and Bones' private island. She exposes the organization's secret initiation rites and dissects their true impact on world affairs. A spectacular feat of investigative reporting, Secrets of the Tomb is more than the definitive book on the most secret society in the world. It is also a provocative exploration of our collective obsession with conspiracy and connection.

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Editorial Reviews

Seymour Hersh
...a vivid insider's account of the archetype of the old boy's club...
E.J. Dionne
...a bold new voice and a superb reporter with an eye for the good story...
Baltimore Sun
...a useful, often very entertaining and painstakingly responsible examination...intriguing...
Seymour Hersh
This is a vivid insider's account of the archetype of an old boys club...
New Yorker
Publishers Weekly
Robbins (Quarterlife Crisis) begins by setting readers up with the ridiculous myth of Yale's Skull and Bones, an exclusive society whose powerful members including both presidents Bush are sworn to secrecy for life about the club's activities: the myth says that the society's members form a clique that rules the world. Robbins then proposes demystifying the group. On the one hand, she propagates the myth, spelling out how Bonesmen have promoted one another in enormously successful political and business careers; they presided over the creation of the atomic bomb as well as the CIA, she says. On the other hand, Robbins turns up much that is prosaic, as she traces the society's origins back to 1832, when William Russell founded it as retribution for a classmate's having been passed over by Phi Beta Kappa; she discovers that the club's cryptic iconography is derived from German university societies. She reveals the inventory of the Tomb (an evocative name for what is essentially a frat house) and details about the group's oddly juvenile fraternal ritual. The narrative never gets more dramatic than Robbins staking out the Tomb for President George W. Bush during Yale's tercentennial celebrations in 2002, and while she relies heavily on the testimony of many Bonesmen, she never names names. While the book may demystify Skull and Bones, it also imparts the sense that Robbins, herself a Yale graduate and member of a rival society, believes in Yalies' elitist entitlement to power and prestige. (Sept. 6) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316720915
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Publication date: 9/6/2002
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 230
  • Product dimensions: 6.26 (w) x 9.70 (h) x 0.89 (d)

Meet the Author

Alexandra Robbins
Alexandra Robbins
Alexandra Robbins is the New York Times bestselling author of Pledged and The Overachievers. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, and other publications. The recipient of the 2007 Heartsongs Award for contributions to the mental health of children and young adults, Robbins has appeared on numerous television shows, including 60 Minutes, the Today show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, The View, and The Colbert Report.
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Table of Contents

The Legend of Skull and Bones 3
1 Pomp and Circumstance: Yale's Mystique 13
2 The Society System 47
3 Inside Headquarters 77
4 The Initiation 101
5 The Secrets of Skull and Bones 123
6 The Network 161
7 The Order 191
Acknowledgments 207
Bibliography of Selected Text Sources 209
Index 221
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Sort by: Showing all of 14 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 8, 2004

    Gripping history, intriguing network

    This is the only book I've ever seen on this most interesting subject. I agree with the author that what might be most interesting isn't the actual inner workings of Skull and Bones but is the way that Skull and Bones has taken on a life of its own in the minds of the public. I appreciate that the author does not play connect the dots, and that there is no wild speculation here. It boils down to a society with a fascinating history, maybe a few strange activities, and a roster of members, such as Bush and Kerry, that is undeniably impressive. And somehow, Skull and Bones has become an important force in society today.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 21, 2004

    Boring

    This book was tedious, very disappointing. I didn't think I would be able to make it all the way through the excrutiaiting 206 pages of pointless facts. It was either page after page of boring sentences about a guy who was in Skull and Bones 100+ years ago and the connections the club gave him or a dull history of Yale. I kept waiting for it to get better and it never did. Please, save your money.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 16, 2006

    a must read for all age's

    alexandea is a vary brave woman for writing this book.i now see the world we live in more clearly,now i see the evil death cult's that are hi-jacking the world.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2006

    not your typical 'for thrills only' conspiracy book

    This book (unlike most on the subject of secret societies and the New World Order) covers many societies both secret and not and their history at Yale college. It gives good posture to those who have not been responsible editors for themselves while sifting through the plethora of conspiracy theory info avail and have started to pretty much believe everything they hear so long as it sounds scary enough. No cheap thrills here, just a history lesson that will educate the reader about Yale. Alexandra Robbins shows how Skull and Bones and it's mystique are as proveable as it's members are and both want to be shown to the world via the media and through political agendas. In the end you will see what bad can come when little boy's never have to hear the word 'No!' by their parents, can never truly sympathize with the poor and suffering and are encouraged to be ruthless lying leaders to the world.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2004

    She doesn't go far enough!

    The truth of the Skull and Bones is deadly to our society. It has ruled for many years in this county. We use to be a Republic and now this society change that into a Democracy. I have studied the Skull and Bones Society for many years from other sources and have concluded that what ever candidate is chosen as president, Kerry or Bush, we will travel down the road to the New World Order, very soon! The author is good, but she failed to give real historical in depth information on the orgin of these evil societies, which they are. If the truth were widely know, The Bushes' would not have been elect the first time! It doesn't matter if Kerry or George W.Bush wins the election, they will be controlled by, others that are connected to the 'Skull and Bones'., as The Rhodes Scholarships; The Round-Table Group, The American Council on Foreign Relations, The Trilateral Commission and The Bilderbergers.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2003

    Review from a high school student

    After many unsuccessful attempts by other journalists, Yale graduate and acclaimed journalist, Alexandra Robbins is finally able to reveal what truly happens inside one of the world¿s most secret societies ¿ Skull and Bones. Her book Secrets of the Tomb uncovers everything from how it began, to the brutal details of their initiations, to descriptions from inside their headquarters, to many more intimate rituals performed by Yale¿s infamous organization. Simultaneously, this book is also a stimulating investigation of our fixation with conspiracy and connection as Robbins discloses the names of many men of great power and influence like President George W. Bush and his father who have been associated with the organization. Many fear that the through these connections, the United States distributes its power through a system of favoritism and that these former members are heavily influenced by the beliefs of the organization to make political decisions. The accounts taken from actual Bonesmen explain the superiority of these men, their true impact on world affairs, and how they have used their involvement to achieve prominence. Although the process of initiation is excruciating, with all the privileges given to those accepted into the society, it is no wonder that many young men do almost anything to be one. Young people today can relate to this situation in which they do almost anything to be a part of something. In relation to me, this would be something to think about before I go off to college this fall. What I liked about the book is that it bluntly shows that if you have connections in this world, you can get almost anywhere. It is a very intriguing book full of shocking stories that keeps the reader in awe. I would definitely recommend this book to someone else, especially if they are someone who is a part of or is interested in organizations like fraternities or sororities.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 11, 2002

    Best book of the year

    This book is absolutely excellent. When I bought the book I expected it to be mostly about conspiracy theories associated with Skull and Bones (for example, that Skull and Bones is part of a secret world government). But the book is so much more than that. Robbins deftly debunks much of the lore of this society, pointing out that, while its members - typically wealthy or high-achieving Yalies or children of prominent alumni - revel in their secrecy, the society is mostly a social club whose members go out of their way to assist one another after graduation. The author reveals the organization's secret initiation rites, and dissects their true impact on world affairs. I loved the way she named names, to show how both Bush presidents helped - and were helped by - fellow Bonesmen. I also enjoyed the great irony: George W. Bush has called Yale a place of Northeastern intellectual snobbery and made fun of his education there. Yet Robbins documents how his ascent to the presidency is littered with Bonesmen. This is detailed, responsible journalism at its best. Every suspicious account is investigated with a critical eye. This book is a great read. Alexandra Robbins is a wonderful and entertaining writer. I recommend this book highly.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 10, 2002

    The Secrets of the Secret

    I am not a huge book reader but as soon as I picked this book up, i was hooked. I have always been interested in "The Skulls" long before the movie for what they have been able to do it their secretive ways of life. This book tells (almost) all of what you've wondered about them for over decades and decades. Alexandra Robbins has done something special in this hardcover bible about the elite group you only wish you knew more about. She gets you as close as you'll ever get.

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    Posted September 28, 2009

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