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Cults, Conspiracies, and Secret Societies: The Straight Scoop on Freemasons, The Illuminati, Skull and Bones, Black Helicopters, The New World Order, and many, many more Paperback – August 11, 2009


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Cults, Conspiracies, and Secret Societies: The Straight Scoop on Freemasons, The Illuminati, Skull and Bones, Black Helicopters, The New World Order, and many, many more + Conspiracies and Secret Societies: The Complete Dossier + The Mammoth Book of Cover-Ups: The 100 Most Terrifying Conspiracies of All Time
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 1 Original edition (August 11, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307390675
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307390677
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #134,280 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

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.”—Scientific 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

About the Author

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.

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Customer Reviews

People who criticize this book are not "conspiracy nuts."
Acropolis
Ultimately this is a book that very briefly touches all the topics listed on the books cover and inner chapter list.
Andalusian Dog
To be fair I didn't read the whole book, I only read the first 50 pages.
Scram J

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Richard Gazala VINE VOICE on October 7, 2009
Format: Paperback
The lengthy title and subtitle of Arthur Goldwag's book, "Cults, Conspiracies, and Secret Societies: The Straight Scoop on Freemasons, The Illuminati, Skull and Bones, Black Helicopters, The New World Order, and many, many more," belies the brevity with which he addresses most of the myriad subjects between the book's covers. It's true even a mildly avid researcher can find on the Internet or in a public library or well-stocked bookstore vast amounts of exhaustively detailed material devoted to each of the subjects Goldwag surveys in his book. This is the advantage, rather than disadvantage, of Goldwag's approach. Goldwag's book supplies only the tantalizing breadcrumbs. He leaves it for the reader to follow the trail if she's hungry to find more information on the matters that interest her, many of which she may never had known of before exploring Goldwag's work. Goldwag's writing is savvy, crisp and clean, often tongue-in-cheek, and he's not afraid to voice his personal opinion on some of the wackier Cults, Conspiracies, and Secret Societies featured in his book. It's a quick, informative and entertaining read, which I believe is exactly what the author intended.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By ghostrider on November 9, 2009
Format: Paperback
This book delivers what it promises. It's an entertaning, thoughtfully written compendium of the major groups, people, and ideas that have attempted to explain and/or manipulate this complex, mysterious, fascinating world we live in.

I've known about many of these cults, conspiracy theories and societies since I was a kid. Others have sprung into being during the half century that's elapsed since then. Still others are new to me. The wealth of information in these pages and the new details that Goldwag has unearthed on even familiar topics make this book a valuable resource here in 2009.

Some might quibble at the alphabetical organization within each of the book's three sections; I found it a bit odd at first. However, I'm hard pressed to come up with a better structure. It allows Goldwag to tell the full story of each topic he addresses, whether it stretches over tens or hundreds of years. It also makes it easy to zero in on items that might hold particular interest, and to find your way back to them later. Sources are cited frequently throughout the text for anyone interested in delving more deeply into a particular area.

Goldwag clearly is writing from the perspective of an interested rationalist. That's bound to push the buttons of some folks who hold certain notions as articles of faith. A few of the reviews here are evidence of that. For me, there's something intruiging and thought-provoking on every page. That's exactly what I want from a book of this sort.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A. Royall on March 19, 2013
Format: Paperback
I have not read the entire book- as I frankly was interested in the Assassin section only for my own research. Starting on page 12, paragraph 2 this entire section of work is WORD FOR WORD from William Cooper's "Mystery Babylon" series. I know this because I am listening to it. This shill should be ashamed as he does not credit Mr. Cooper at all. Also, it seems in his introduction he advocates the qualling of free speech if it doesn't agree with his ideas of conformity; or it disturbs his delicate sensibilites. I'm quite sure he is an ascriber to the lodge philosophy in which, by penning this farce, he seems to try to distance himself. I'm most glad I did not waste any of my hard earned money on this stolen work. I would highly advise people to do as I did; go to the public library and don't waste your money.
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27 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Andalusian Dog VINE VOICE on August 27, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I will side with the author that most conspiracies are insanely ridiculous and that people need to believe stuff in order to balanced out the mostly uncontrolled reality we live in. He is however, too opinionated for true objective exploratory writing of this subject matter. He is at the very opposite end of the spectrum of the lunatic fringe he is writing about. While conspiracies for the most part, (I agree with him here) may fill a void in our lives to explain otherwise chaotic incidents, they can not all be fabrications. Sure we landed on the moon, sure aliens and UFOs are nuts, but economic, political, and government back room chess games can not be so easily dismissed and lumped together with every other nut job concept. There is no index in the book. I am sure the author would argue that he put it all in the front so he saw no need to put it in the back. I think it's just laziness. Any non fiction book worth its salt should have an word index. A section for further reading would be helpful too. He does put many sources right in the book but indexing these should have been done.

Ultimately this is a book that very briefly touches all the topics listed on the books cover and inner chapter list. It is written by a writer who considers himself a true rationalist. He is a common-sense pragmatist, to a fault, since he considers any conspiracy, back room surreptitious plotting or hijinks all on, or above the surface, and mostly as isolated incidents. He sees no far reaching conspiracies at all. To show him different facts in any way would undermine his reality just as much as truth that UFOs and real nut bag alien conspiracies are false would undermine the very fringe people he so eagerly writes to debunk.
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