Does a sinister cabal actually control international affairs? Were William Shakespeare and Abraham Lincoln secretly involved with a group founded to discover and preserve the principles of alchemy? Has an ancient mystical religion really been reduced to a length of red string that sells for a dollar an inch? Secret societies surround us, yet they often remain a mystery. Their secrecy suggests sacrilege and crime, and their loyalties stand accused of undermining the worldÕs governments. They generate fear, suspicion, andÑabove allÑfascination. From the parched wadis of the Middle East to the crowded boutiques of Beverly Hills, award-winning author John Lawrence Reynolds peels away centuries of speculation and paranoia and shines a brilliant light on organizations that have been shrouded in secrecy for ages, from the Templars and the Mafia to the Priory of Sion and Skull & Bones. He offers a smart and surprising behind-the-scenes exploration of the talesÑconfirmed and fabricatedÑthat surround the best known and often least understood secret societies.
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John Lawrence Reynolds has written 16 books of fiction and nonfiction. He lives with his wife in a small North American town, the location of which is secret.From 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.)
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