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Book Review

Book Review: Secret Societies

by Lang Reid

Everyone enjoys a good mystery, hence the popularity of ‘Who Dunnits’. The world is also rife with conspiracy theories, after all, did the CIA kill Kennedy, and was the World Trade Center demolished by appropriately placed explosives? Are there UFOs and were there aliens at Roswell? Secret societies have also been blamed for much over the last few centuries, after all, if they have nothing to hide, why are they so secretive? I selected this book from the Bookazine shelves (ISBN 1-55970-826-3, Arcade Publishing New York, 2006) written by John Lawrence Reynolds, as I too am enthralled by mystery.
The introduction called Fools, Fears and Fanatics sets the tone, wherein author Reynolds discusses the myths surrounding Christianity in the Roman days, and shows how what is now considered to be everyday Christian practices could have been construed very differently then, when Christianity was in fact a secret society.
He then runs through the various secret societies that have existed, and some which are still present, and attempts to dispassionately review the history, the legends, and sorts the myth from fact. Reality often falls short of the legend!
Some of these can be very chilling, where for example Reynolds draws a direct linear conclusion between the Assassins in the days of the Knights Templar to the Al Quaeda of today. Despite 800 years, the human psyche has not developed, even though we may have developed technologically.
Undoubtedly the popularity of the Da Vinci Code has been a stimulus for this book, and Reynolds does make some initially obtuse references to Dan Brown’s book in the section of the Priory of Sion where the clergy in the late 1800’s were allowed to hold masses for money, a practice which Reynolds aptly calls “Mass Marketing”. Later in the book, Reynolds does delve a little deeper into the Da Vinci Code ‘faction’.
In the section on the Kabbalah (which is followed by Mick Jagger, David Beckham, Madonna and Paris Hilton which should be enough of a warning), Reynolds does show the real origins, stemming from claims made by an insurance salesman who changed his name and has been very successful peddling a doctrine ever since.
Some of the world’s well known names are brought up, such as Aleister Crowley, another sham who borrowed doubtful philosophies to allow him to have a very carnal lifestyle. However, an even more well known name that appears in his examination of the American Skull and Bones secret society is George W Bush, which may reveal something about America’s leader in these self-initiated times of war.
Author Reynolds is good at debunking many of the rumours around the secret societies, rumours which have themselves led to the perpetuation of the society, as inquisitive people look to see if the claims are “real”. And we are all inquisitive! If we were not, this book would never sell! However, I think he could have delved a little deeper in many of the chapters.
At B. 995 (in hard cover) it will need a fairly (un)healthy inquisitiveness to justify buying this book, despite the index and bibliography. I would wait for the paperback!