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Throughout history there have been societies of closed membership and covert purpose. From the Knights Templars to the freemasons, an intimate look at the inner workings of secret societies....

Title : A Brief History of Secret Societies: The Hidden Powers of Clandestine Organizations and Elites from the Ancient World to the Present Day
Author :
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ISBN : 9780786719839
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 256 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

A Brief History of Secret Societies: The Hidden Powers of Clandestine Organizations and Elites from the Ancient World to the Present Day Reviews

  • Jim
    2019-01-10 12:57

    A Brief History of Secret Societies, by author David V. Barrett is an extremely well-researched look at secret societies in the modern world. Barrett has amassed a collection of facts and hypotheses regarding the esoteric movements and their connections throughout the history of Western culture, in particular Freemasonry.Barrett begins his book by setting up some ground rules, if you will, about where he stands on politico-religious philosophy and terminology. This is to set up the foundation for the rest of the references throughout his book. He then goes on to give his best explanation as to where esoteric beliefs originate, beginning in the cradles of civilization, to the Egyptians, Greeks, Zoroastrians and others. But he glosses over centuries worth of important people, places and movements, giving them a small page or two for their contributions to what this book is actually about: Freemasonry. This book is essentially the history of the Freemasons. References to the Knights Templar, Rosicrucians and Cathars are made, but often just in how they relate to Freemasonry. Barrett makes almost invisible mention of others such as the Golden Dawn, the KKK, secret government agencies, and so on, and really should have just omitted those sections. He finishes with a bit of a paranoid ramble of why secret societies may be in danger and should remain secretive. My chief criticism of this book is its lack of impartiality. During the introduction on page XX Barrett claims:"I am not acting as an advocate for Freemasonry,"and:"I am not personally either approving or antagonistic towards any secret society, or any branch of Christianity or any other Religion."Yet seeing these preemptive defensive claims at all, especially before the book had even begun, was a bad omen for me and it should be for you, too. Fair or not, intentional or not, this book is essentially one long Masonic apologist and anti-Fundamentalist Christian text. It's the author's prerogative to express these ideas, but he should represent it as such and not try to play the impartiality ticket. Barrett spends an inordinate amount of time on the benevolence of the Freemasons and his fear of extreme right-wing conservative fundamentalist Christians, in particular the American branches. Barrett simply can't help himself from interjecting his own political agenda and it detracts from his self-proclaimed effort to be objective and scholarly, and it blurs out the supposed purpose of the writing itself - secret societies. In his defense his research seems impeccable, and he is dedicated to debunking myths and negative attitudes toward secret societies. But if you have a moderate, fair mindset and were hoping to find a book based more on history and less on politics you have to take 'A Brief History of Secret Societies' with a grain of salt. His anti-Evangelicalism and anti-Americanism boil over too frequently, even to the point of insinuating that Evangelicals and conservative Americans are becoming hate groups that may return to the actions and methods of the inquisition to wipe out modern secret societies. Of course making claims like this is nothing more than classic politicking and fear mongering. By the end of the book it really just comes out as typical liberal British elitist rhetoric. I get it. He opposes the Fundamentalist Right and he's on the Elitist Left. He fails to recognize what moderate and independent thinkers have known for centuries: they're both just sides of the same coin.I must also take a brief moment to mention David V. Barrett, the author of this book, and author of other books, has this strange (and sometimes hard to read) habit of using, far, far too much -if not excessive- amounts of punctuation in his writing, which may, or may not, distract you (and other readers) from reading his work/writing/book. So, unfortunately, for him (and you), his actual style, as a writer, is rather annoying. There's not much flow, if any at all, if flow is the correct word to use, to his sentences. The book reads, extremely, choppy (and dry) - but now I, and this review, digress.Ultimately I gave this book a 3, but I really could have gone lower. I enjoyed his thorough research, his accuracy and many of the quotes and references he makes throughout. The book was informative and interesting, if not a bit dry. But sadly the other authors' quotes turn out to be some of the best writing in the book. If you are a right-wing conservative you'll hate this book because he'll challenge your point of view frequently. If you are a left-wing liberal you'll love this book because he just blows on about what you want to hear. If you have more of a moderate mind, and can overlook Barrett's political agenda there is some great historical and factual value to this book. I would recommend it for anyone who can tolerate the politics, regardless of your affiliation, and focus on the excellent research that has been compiled about the Freemasons.

  • Darren Hemmings
    2019-01-21 19:10

    When I bought this I was in the bookshop looking for something else entirely, but upon seeing the title I had to investigate further. I'm glad I did. Much as the title suggests your usual titillating work of questionable accuracy, the reality is that it couldn't be further from that, standing as one of very few books about the world of Freemasonry, the Rosicrucians & more that takes a completely objective - and dare I say sensible, down-to-earth - view. As we all know, the reality of conspiracy theories is often far less exciting, and at points that notion applies here. Something I really loved was the measured manner in which the author discredits certain claims about the likes of the Freemasons, proving in most cases that one author has simple cited another whose own work contained inaccuracies and outright lies. More than anything though, this is an excellent overview of the development of religion and mysticism and the various secret societies that have sprung from them.

  • Ben Kesp
    2018-12-28 15:12

    This book can only be described as informative and certainly one that I believe everyone should read, removing the many myths associated with secret societies of the world. Starting from the dawn of ancient civilisation, the book objectively explores the hidden history of esoteric religious beliefs as the human race continuously seeks out knowledge and understanding of the world. Dr. David Barrett, British sociologist of religion has amassed numerous works over his career. He contributes regularly for The Independent, Fortean Times and the Catholic Herald. Before he turned to writing, he was an intelligence analyst for the UK Government Communications Headquarters and in the United States government’s National Security Agency. Have you ever wondered and questioned the existence of such secret groups like the Knights Templar, Rosicrucians, Cathars, Freemasons, Golden Dawn and KKK? Barrett explores the origins of these groups, the symbols and the reasoning behind why certain people join such organisations. He explains in detail the various degrees of learning and ascension into the higher hierarchy of the groups, values, rules, customs and dress. He does all this in a simple and believable manner. Journeying back to the beginnings of our civilisation to the Egyptians, Greeks and Zoroastrians, Barrett explains where the esoteric beliefs originate. Following the rise and need for such groups to exist, with many claiming to have their origins dating back millennia, something which he debunks, we travel the evolutionary road with many of secret groups only having their beginnings in the 19th and 20th centuries. This book is excellently researched, amassing a huge collection of facts and hypotheses, connecting the esoteric movements to the history of the Western culture, particularly focussing on the Freemasons where a large amount of the book dwells on. Having enjoyed this book, the only negative point to add is with the amounts of facts provided and the detailed exploration of societies, it can lead to heavy reading with so much information to digest. However as stated in the beginning, if your curiosity to learn more about the secret groups exists, wanting to know where they originated from, what happens behind closed doors, the beliefs and customs, this book will give an objective detailed view and debunk many of the myths you have heard and probably believed in.

  • Marije
    2019-01-02 14:01

    Very readable and informative overview of the history of secret societies like the Freemasons and Rosicrucians. Barrett makes sure he doesn't claim more than the evidence backs up, and when he specultaes he clearly says so. He covers (among others) the Zoroastrians and Gnostics of the first centuries before and after CE, via the Cathars and Knights Templar of the 12th century, the Rosicrucians and Freemasons foundedc in the 17th century until finally the stream of esoteric movements from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.Mostly these are glossed over in order to show the similarities and differences between the movements. The main aurgument: direct lineage via underground secret societies is highly unlikely, but ideas and images can survive and adapt to new times and places.Good introduction and a usefull background to learn in more detail about the beliefs and practices of the movements.

  • Josh
    2019-01-15 13:02

    The book title is a bit of a misnomer. For all intents and purposes this is a brief history of Freemasonry, the Rosicruicians, and the Tarot. While the book features information on other secret societies such as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, the Mafia, and the KKK these subjects are so briefly discussed they could have been omitted. It would seem that the focus of this book was to show how these groups handle esoteric religions, and the 'golden thread' that links mainstream religions. It is thankfully devoid of conspiracy theory and contains little speculation (which I feel have marred other works on the subject). I recommend this to anyone interested in the topic, but discourage from trusting the dust jacket.

  • Graham
    2019-01-06 12:09

    Decent overview of various esoteric societies. I felt like the author could've left off things like the Mafia and the Klan since his focus seemed to lie primarily with the more mystical side of things.

  • Obscure Literary
    2019-01-01 12:04

    Fairly interesting

  • Jessie B.
    2019-01-10 17:06

    Interesting, very even handed and readable, this book looks at the history of secret societies including historical context and with a critical eye to sensational myths, and an open mind.

  • Jan
    2019-01-21 15:46

    An extremely well researched, critical and objective book. Highly informative.

  • Ana
    2019-01-16 18:05

    A great amount of information, but it feels too dense and clutter. Sometimes less is more

  • Steve
    2019-01-20 12:00

    At times interesting and informative, at others a hard slog.

  • Mackenzie Backs
    2018-12-29 16:42

    Informative and very interesting.