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A Brief History of Secret Societies: An unbiased history of our desire for secret knowledge Paperback – June 22, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0786719839 ISBN-10: 0786719834 Edition: Reprint

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

David V. Barrett is the author of The New Believers and Sects, 'Cults', & Alternative Religions, and his work has appeared in the TLS, Independent, Literary Review, Spectator, and New Scientist, among other publications. His books have been published in thirteen languages and seventeen countries. He lives in London, UK.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 346 pages
  • Publisher: Running Press; Reprint edition (June 22, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786719834
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786719839
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #307,326 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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See all 7 customer reviews
I've thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and learned much from the author.
J. M. Carlson
This book will give the reader a brief but accurate look at various societies and how they interacted within the world at their time.
Crashley
That and it is accompanied by very very great insight and extremely informative.
Tyler C. Steele

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By pdun459 on January 13, 2008
Format: Paperback
With this book, Barrett paints the history of secret societies with a very broad brush, which is good in my opinion. So many of the other books get bogged down in a morass of minor details that may or may not have any substance. Barrett weaves all the threads from the different groups together to form a complete tapestry. You will come away with a much better understanding of how it all fits together. This is truly a history book, not paranoid hysteria.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Brett A. Welschmeyer on July 23, 2007
Format: Paperback
Great book for a brief hit and miss history of secrect societies, how they formed, who disliked them and the conflicts they had that bring us to presnt day. Great read for a place to start learning about these societies.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Crashley on March 31, 2008
Format: Paperback
Mr. Barrett's look into the history of various esoteric societies is refreshing in its objectivity and thorough research. This book will give the reader a brief but accurate look at various societies and how they interacted within the world at their time. Additionally, his intraspection on the Freemasons, Hermetic Philosophers, Gnostics, Templars, Neo-Platonism and various other groups include their affect on the world and other esoteric organizations with similar perspectives. In respect to the Freemasons singularly, this book references the works of both Knight and Short, discussing what they got right and what they got wrong.

A wonderful read for history enthusists whom seek to broaden they're knowledge on heterodoxical societies and their sometimes blatant, sometimes subtle influence on our world today.
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By M. LaPlante on February 16, 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If I had to describe A Brief History of Secret Societies in a word, it might be: rambling. While I definitely get the impression that David V. Barrett is an authority on the topics discussed, the text leaves a lot to be desired in the way of organization. A better structure would have greatly improved the book’s readability and brought some much needed clarity to the author’s intentions. Despite touching on a wide variety of material, the entire 300 page work is divided into only six chapters, the majority of which suffer from a lack of consistency or apparent direction.

With a title like A Brief History of Secret Societies, one might be forgiven for expecting the majority of the time to be spent in discussion of secret societies. The reality proves somewhat different. The first two chapters are more akin to high level history lessons, and while portions of chapter two do cover a few classical esoteric groups, the focus is more on religion than anything else. Religious practice is obviously a backdrop for many societies, but the ties are often made loosely, if at all.

Chapter three is “Freemasonry,” which proves to be about as directly and deeply focused on a specific society as the book gets. While informative, I did feel an unnecessary amount of effort was spent defending Masonry from its detractors, which was energy that could have been better utilized going deeper into what Freemasonry is, where it came from, and why. A “history” text arguably shouldn't need to take a position on the legitimacy of the group, when an honest presentation of the facts would have more or less the same effect on the reader.

With chapter four we're back to waltzing randomly around topics of the occult.
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