Cults, Conspiracies, and Secret Societies: The Straight Scoop on Freemasons, the Illuminati, Skull and Bones, Black Helicopters, the New World Order, and Many, Many MorePaperback
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- Publisher: Vintage Books
- Format: Paperback | 332 pages
- Dimensions: 132mm x 201mm x 23mm | 295g
- Publication date: 8 November 2009
- Publication City/Country: New York
- ISBN 10: 0307390675
- ISBN 13: 9780307390677
- Edition: 1
- Edition statement: Original
- Sales rank: 74,360
Did you know? - Freemasonry's first American lodge included a young Benjamin Franklin among its members. - The Knights Templarbegan as impoverished warrior monks then evolved into bankers. - Groom Lake, Dreamland, Homey Airport, Paradise Ranch, The Farm, Watertown Strip, Red Square, "The Box," are all names for Area 51. An indispensable guide, Cults, Conspiracies, and Secret Societies connects the dots and sets the record straight on a host of greedy gurus and murderous messiahs, crepuscular cabals and suspicious coincidences. Some topics are familiar--the Kennedy assassinations, the Bilderberg Group, the Illuminati, the People's Temple and Heaven's Gate--and some surprising, like Oulipo, a select group of intellectuals who created wild formulas for creating literary masterpieces, and the Chauffeurs, an eighteenth-century society of French home invaders, who set fire to their victims' feet.
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Arthur Goldwag is the author of Isms and Ologies. A freelance writer and editor for more than twenty years, he has worked at Book-of-the-Month Club (where he created Traditions, a club devoted to Jewish interests), as well as at Random House and "The New York Review of Books."
By Trevor Hawkeswood 15 Sep 2013
Book Review: Cults, Conspiracies, & Secret Societies by Arthur Goldwag (2009)
This is a very interesting, small format paperback book of 332 pages, which deals with the three topics from the title. There are no illustrations.
The book is well written and easily read but it is obvious that the author does not believe in conspiracies. However, I can assure him, from my experience, that conspiracies are common in the world because this is the nature of humankind.
The first section deals with Cults and there are many of these, ranging from better known ones such as the Mormons (or the Church of Jesus Christ's Latter Day Saints), the maniacal Branch Davidians (led by the madman David Koresh), the Heavens Gate nut crowd, the Charles Manson family cult, Opus Dei and The Unification Church (these are the Moonies). And then of course there is an account of Jim Jones and his crazy Jonestown in Guyana and the Scientology crowd, which has nothing whatsoever to do with science or scientism. Other well known cults are also described such as the Assassins, Aum Shinrikyo, Bruderhof, Christian Identity, Church of the Last Testament, Druze, est, The Family International, Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn etc etc. Most of these cults were set up by insane conmen from all walks of life and it is really amazing to see how the general populace goes for these outlandish and often dangerous set-ups.
The Aum Shinrikyo were based in Tokyo and were another insane group of Japanese, this time led by a blind yoga teacher by the name of Shoko Asahara. This cultish crowd recruited ex military men and scientists and stockpiled conventional chemical and biological weapons such as ebola virus, anthrax, cholera, and botulin, with which Asahara planned to hasten the advent of Armageddon. They infused sarin gas into Tokyo railways, killing scores of people. They were finally caught and executed.
The Waco Texas fiasco with the Branch Davidians was an horrific event in US history. Over 60 Davidians died when the USA government used heavy handed techniques to get Koresh and his crowd to surrender because they feared harm to children within Koresh's fortified compound. Suffice to say Koresh was shot and was later cooked in the resulting conflagration.
The Opus Dei are another group of misfits. They have been called a brainwashing club by protagonists because of its high pressure recruiting tactics, especially on college campuses. It imposes an intense discipline on members. They are into CP (corporal punishment) - one punishment is described as having a spiked chain wrapped around a leg for several hours to a day (24 hours- imagine that!). One needs to stay away from this cult as well as the others outline in this book.
The second section deals with Conspiracies, most of which the author doesn't believe in (he does believe that there was a conspiracy to assassinate Abraham Lincoln, however). Some of the conspiracies dealt with include AIDS and the Black Death, Al Queda, Area 51 and Aliens, Black Helicopters, Men in Black, the Roswell Incident, Cattle Mutilations, the death of Princess Diana, the Face on Mars, the Jekyll Island Group and the US Federal Reserve, the John F Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, John Lennon, and Abraham Lincoln Assassinations, the death of Marilyn Monroe, the New World Order and Ruby Ridge. In regards to most of these, I feel that Goldwag hasn't really researched the topics in very much detail. It is clear from the autopsy and medical report on the body of Marilyn Monroe that she was murdered - there were incriminating bruises on various parts of her body and the drugs were introduced by another person. I believe that certain persons forced Dr Greenson and the nurse to administer the drugs.
The last section of the book deals with Secret Societies, many of which are no longer in existence and were created during medieval times or earlier. As such, not many of those described in the book are well known to most people. Such societies included in the book are: the Ancient Order of the Hibernians, the Aryan Brotherhood, the Bohemian Grove, the Bourbaki, the Carbonaria, Crypto-Judaism, the Hellfire Club (not the BDSM establishments!), the Skull and Bones Society, the Freemasons, the Illuminati, the Knights of the Golden Circle and the Knights Templar, the Knights of Malta, the Mafia and the Ku Klux Klan. For many of these secret societies, I would have liked much more information. However, the account of the Ku Klux Klan was particularly interesting.
This book is packed full of information and some references are included in the text for many of the entries. Recommended as a research tool for those interested in these often esoteric subjects.
Dr Trevor J. Hawkeswood
Author: Light and Dark (2013) and Spiders of Australia (2003)
"""The kind of reference manual that the Internet cannot supplant . . . Goldwag keeps the facts straight and gives the rumors -- no matter how lurid and entertaining -- about as much respect as they deserve."--"The Washington Post" " ""Marvelous."--Scie"ntific American " "Arthur Goldwag is a shrewd, fair minded, learned and entertaining tour guide through a world that's simultaneously funny and frightening. Not a page goes by without some "I-didn't-know-that!" nugget. Given what's going on this ever-more-paranoid society, a book like this becomes not only titillating but crucially important."--Steven Waldman, Editor-in-Chief and co-founder of Beliefnet.com "The answer to your burning questions about subjects from Area 51 to the Yakuza."--"Details" "Delightful." -"The Weekly Standard" "Goldwag is a colorful writer who makes good use of his material as he aims to explain, rather than debunk or expose, a fascinating diversity of beliefs."--"Boston Globe" "The author's delivery is engaging and entertaining. The amount of research done in this book is astounding. . . . An incredibly insightful, thoroughly enjoyable look at society's shadow."--"Armchair Interviews" "Goldwag navigates his way through the wilder reaches of human belief with great urbanity." --Mark Booth, author of "The Secret History of the World: As Laid Down by the Secret Societies ""As entertainingly written as it is enlightening." --Phillip Lopate