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Aleister Crowley: The Biography: Spiritual Revolutionary, Romantic Explorer, Occult Master and Spy Hardcover – September 1, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Watkins (September 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1780280122
  • ISBN-13: 978-1780280127
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.7 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,038,289 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Tobias Churton is a world authority on Freemasonry, Rosicrucianism, Hermeticism and Gnosticism. Holding a Masters degree in Theology from Brasenose College, Oxford, Tobias is an Honorary Fellow of Exeter University and Faculty Lecturer in Western Esotericism. An accomplished filmmaker and composer and the writer of the award-winning drama documentary series The Gnostics, for the UK's Channel 4, Tobias has also written a now standard biography on Elias Ashmole (1617-92). Please consult www.tobiaschurton.com for more information.

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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Copyzombie on April 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Aleister Crowley is certainly in need of an objective biography, and this book almost delivers.

The author's strong points are his knowledge of esoteric societies and ideologies, and thanks to his access to Crowley's papers, he has been able to tell the tale as Crowley experienced it. I like the way Churton doesn't try to tell the reader what 'really' took place in the frequent supernatural incidents. He describes what happened, how Crowley experienced it and what was the context, and lets the reader decide.

But the book has its flaws, some merely irritating, others really serious. Churton doesn't quite worship Crowley, but comes close. Therefore he often attributes to him prophetic abilities that are very much overblown. You didn't have to be a prophet in the early years of the 20th century to see that a great war was coming or that Russia was on verge of revolution. But Churton, in awe of his subject, sees these as examples of Crowley's powers. Also I'm not at all certain that Crowley's intelligence role during the WWI was as important as the author makes out. For example, Crowley could not have influenced the supposed German decision to sink Lusitania for the very simple reason that such decision was never made by German leadership -- the decision was made by the U-boat captain on the spot.

For reasons already mentioned it's obvious that the author's grasp of political history is weak. He's so intent to prove that Crowley was continuously involved with the British intelligence agencies, that he seizes quite minor and circumstantial incidents as evidence that Crowley was employed as a secret agent. The most blatant example - and the book's worst blunder - comes on page 293.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A reviewer from New York on April 5, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Not a bad biography as an introduction to Aleister Crowley. However if you are seeking stories about Crowleys magickal activities you wont find much here. The book focuses mainly on Crowleys personal life and his alleged spying activities. A little disappointing because Crowleys life revolved around Magick and his magickal work, training etc...are only covered briefly throughout the book . For example Crowleys Enochian initiation in 1909 is summarized in about 4 pages. There are so many good books by and about Crowley I cant list them all, but his Confessions along with The Eye in the Triangle by Israel Regardie and Perdurabo by Richard Kaczynski are far better than this light reading.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Yelena Shekhtman on August 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Churton's biography of Aleister Crowley is an engagingly presented scholarly research, in which the author is trying to be objective, nonjudgmental, and fair to illuminating the inner drives and self-searches of the real Aleister Crowley, a human being with his own strengths and weaknesses, flights and falls, incredible talents and enormous erudition--a man who tried to transcend the limitations of human condition and reach to the heart and core of the Universe itself, as if merging with the infinite secrets and mysteries of the Universal Soul. A discoverer and a pilgrim, he wasn't afraid of errors accompanying one's daring experimentation and of the inescapable societal condemnation, courageously looking into an abyss (which, as it's well known, looks then back at you). The book led me to a discovery of Crowley's poetry--and from now on, to me, he is, first of all, a true Poet, a title far above royal crowns and Nobel prizes. Crowley's poems deserve their glorious place in college literature courses. And a great Poet, this eternal Orpheus, should unconditionally have our admiration, compassion and deep fascination.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Gary Oppenhuis on January 17, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Of all the many Crowley biographies, Churton's approach has done more to reveal the uniqueness of Crowley the person in conjunction with the uniqueness of the times and events in which he lived and reacted and impacted. The book became more enjoyable as it progressed, although a bit heavy-handed on the spying aspects (real or conjectured) of Crowley's life. A refreshing and subtle exploration of a larger-than-life yet all-too-human personality.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Walter Five VINE VOICE on November 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
One might have thought that with such recent and revealing biographies as Perdurabo, Revised and Expanded Edition: The Life of Aleister Crowley and Secret Agent 666: Aleister Crowley, British Intelligence and the Occult, that there was little left unsaid, or undiscovered about Aleister Crowley.

One would be wrong.

In this book, the author, Tobias Churton, suprisingly grips the reader's attention in the first few chapters, revealing insights to family matters and ancestors never before brought up in any other Crowley biography, and it just gets better and better from there. Many previously uncited sources, letters, diaries, make this a most revealing biography, not just a re-hash of dirt and outrages that have been attributed to Crowley in such biased "biographies" as The Legacy of the Beast: The Life, Work, and Influence of Aleister Crowley or Megatherion: The Magickal World of Aleister Crowley. Well written, well researched, and very informative, this book reveals much of several sides of Crowley's life and personality for even the most stickeling experts of "The Master Therion."
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