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89 of 94 people found the following review helpful
Holy Blood, Holy Grail is well worth reading by anyone whose interest was piqued by The Da Vinci Code. It is essentially two histories: the history of the First Crusade and its antecedents, and the history of Christianity immediately following the Crucifixion.
The first history is very meticulously done and it holds our interest throughout an exposition of potentially tedious research. Granted, the conclusions are based on the existence of secret and hitherto unknown documents that serve as their Rosetta Stone, but even the skeptical will find the tapestry the authors weave to be an interesting one.
The second history, which purports to show that Christ was married to Mary Magdalene and all that, is much less thorough and much more overtly speculative. Whereas the underlying documentary evidence of the Knights Templar may be a bit obscure, the Bible has been dissected in public and in detail for two millennia. Here, the authors purport no Rosetta Stone, and although the exposition is interesting, it does not have even a patina of research. One gets the feeling throughout of a conclusion being sought in the ambiguous language of the first four Gospels of the New Testament, a trick played by many before this.
If you are not a Biblical scholar or a scholar of pre-Medieval history but are interested in these subjects, this book will hold your interest. It is not ultimately convincing in the least but it presents the material in a very interesting and readable way. Scholars will undoubtedly quibble, but a layperson will find it interesting.

Is it possible to summarize our story briefly? It goes something like this:
· 700 BC, the Israelite Tribe of Benjamin, for obscure reasons, was driven out of Palestine, and settled first in Arcadia in Greece and then moved up to the Marseilles area of France.
· Later on, Mary Magdalene, Jesus' pregnant wife at the time of the Crucifixion, fled, together with her father, Joseph of Aramathea, to Marseilles where she was warmly welcomed by the descendants of the Tribe of Benjamin. (Joseph of Aramathea continued onward to Glastonbury, England carrying a cup of Jesus' blood.)
· Mary Magdalene's brother, Lazarus, meanwhile, went on to lead the revolt and mass suicide at Masada that culminated in the Roman destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and the Diaspora.
· Mary Magdalene's child founded the Merovingian dynasty of Frankish kings.
· Charles Martel and his grandson Charlemagne, heroes though they were for stemming the Saracen tide, treacherously overthrew the Merovingian dynasty. But the Merovingian line was preserved by the secret society of the Priory of Sion, which gave rise to the Knights Templar and had other shadowy doings down the centuries.
· There is living, today, in Paris a certain Pierre Plantard de Saint-Claire, who is a direct descendant of the Merovingian kings and, therefore, a direct lineal descendant of Jesus Christ, Son of God. And he, and his society, are working toward the eventual reinstatement of the "rightful", divinely ordained line of Merovingian kings.
· Me, too. Send money.
The premise and the conclusion of this book is the antithesis of the American ideal: the ultimate union of Church and State. It makes for interesting reading, but don't get carried away.
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55 of 59 people found the following review helpful
on January 28, 2000
I would have thought that a book that I have read three times would deserve the five stars. Maybe it is because, as a history fanatic, I am very interested by many of the chapters presented. But, even though I am not Catholic, I percieve the thesis in this book as too far-fetched and based almost entirely in "what if"s. It's true, the authors state that it's just that, a thesis, but they write the final chapters with a tone that implies that they are taking their conclusions as fact.
I wouldn't want to spoil the book to anyone interested in reading it. If you like historical mysteries, lost treasure tales and the like, you'll find most of the book exciting as a smooth introduction to several historical periods, specially the early middle ages. The facts here shouldn't be accepted as the sole truth, but as a re-interpretation of the 'official' history which is, as the authors state, always written by the winning side.
The second part is much more controversial, though. Any ancient manuscript filled with allegories is bound to have any number of interpretations, and I feel the last part of the book is based on just one. And one of the most radicals by the way.
All in all, it's a very interesting book to read and I would definitely recommended it to anyone who looks for a good time in history books.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on October 29, 2003
It's easy to understand why someone would get upset reading this book. The authors take the history of Freemasonry (actually, the mystic legends that surround Freemasonry) and tie it to the "real" story of Jesus Christ. When you link conspiracies to Christianity, you're going to get under someone's skin.
But few books are as fascinating to read as this one. Think of it as one-third truth and two-thirds speculation. If the authors called it a fictional account --- a fantasy about the way things might be --- the result would be a strange sort of historical novel. It's wouldn't be as compelling. Instead, they present this story as nonfiction, breathlessly uncovering the greatest secret in the history of mankind. It's an approach that keeps you reading. In the end, you'll enjoy the story as a series of curious "what if" possibilities. If half of this is true, the world is more interesting than you thought.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on April 5, 2004
A TV scriptwriter, a novelist, and a psychologist set out to convince us that the bloodline of Jesus of Nazareth exists in France to this day. Of course, you pretty much need their combined imaginations and strong bent towards conspiracy theories to arrive at that conclusion. One could rationally dismiss most of their evidence as coincidence, but then you would not have a book or a TV program, would you?
As in most conspiracy theory books the authors pile on numerous coincidences, few of which are significant, in an effort to construct a coherent story of a dark sinister secret known only to a few. The usual: "throw enough stuff at the wall and some of it is bound to stick', approach is all too evident.
All the same, probably a necessary read for devotees or detractors of The DeVinci code. But don't suspend your intelligence. The thesis is about as valid as that attributing the Kennedy Assassination to the plot between Jackie and LBJ.
But then, I know some folks who are convinced of that one, too.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on June 15, 2005
Here is my review in a nutshell, Research: 5 Stars, Reasoning: 1 Star

I read "The Da Vinci Code" and became interested in "Holy Blood, Holy Grail" because it was the source of much of the information in "The Da Vinci Code." I give the authors an A+ for the depth and breadth of their research. I am willing to believe the factual information that they have revealed, but when they try to piece all their research together, it doesn't hold water for two reasons.

First of all, the authors need to understand that high coincidence does not equal cause and effect. It may point to a relationship, but does not prove it. In several cases the authors note that the rise in power of the Templars occurred at the same time as an individual's rise in power. As a result, the authors assume that the individual must be associated with the Templars. I wonder how many times they used the phrase, "what if?" They rarely prove any linkage, but just suggest that there is a possibility that events/people are linked to one another. Then they start stringing the possibilities together to come around to their conclusion.

Secondly, they have some serious flaws in their logic; basic flaws that anyone who studied symbolic logic in school should be able to identify. E.g. if A => C and B => C then A = B is one of the faulty logic procedures they often use. To use a plain English example: If all apples are fruit and all bananas are fruit then apples are bananas. When used in this format the flaw is easy to see, but the authors don't always state their logic is such simple steps and it can be difficult to spot the problem.

At some points in the book, I became irate at the shear number of times these faulty reasonings occurred and at how blatant they were. I was angry because I felt the authors knew their reasoning was faulty, but just assumed their readers would be too stupid or ignorant to recognize it.

I do have one problem with the research that was performed, and that is with the Dossiers Secrets. Why would a society that kept itself secret for thousands of years want to make itself public right now, and in this manner? Releasing dribs and drabs of cryptic information through a Library? It doesn't make sense. Somehow I get the feeling that some group of French historians are having a big laugh at all of the Brits and Americans that have fallen for their big, practical joke. I have no proof, no logic; It's just a feeling.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on January 26, 2006
The first half of the book is a dense and very carefully researched history of European genealogy and secret societies. The second half, about possible alternative versions of the story of Jesus' life and the possibility that he was a link in the chain of a royal line, is suprisingly speculative given how careful they were to find multiple sources for most of the points in the first half. Despite the sudden drop in historical evidence, the theories were interesting and made me want to go back and re-read Luke to see how much of a stretch they're making. I found the conclusion section most jarring -- in which the authors state that in this day and age, perhaps what people really want is a benevolent priest-king. For folks who say they started out as skeptics, it sounds like they've become part of the choir.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 30, 2005
I was very interested to read the book to see if the assertions made in it bore any weight, as they've been used as the foundations for a fair number of works since then (Dan Brown's "The DaVinci Code," etc.), and have the Catholic Church and some Christians up in arms about the claims made. I'll tell you, though, I was disappointed. I was hoping for a more-academic text, and despite being touted by some as such, it's really not. It's an interesting read, and recounts a fair amount of history-- however, the "big, controversial conclusions" don't come 'till the last 100 pages or so-- so be prepared to wait for them. Academically, "Holy Blood, Holy Grail" is weak-- which disappointed me the most. The authors are working with sparse material, from which any researcher would have a difficult time drawing concrete conclusions. Other reviewers here do a good job of summarizing the content, so I'll skip that; categorically, I found the book useful in building my knowledge of opinions on the subject-- but I wouldn't consider it the be-all-and-end-all of books addressing the Christian legacy and Magdalene theory. (Some folks do, and I respect their opinion, despite disagreeing with it.)

Like any academic (or semi-academic) work, a thesis is stated, and information is sought to document and support that theory. In this case, the 'documentation' comes first, with the assertions at the end, and they're tenuous at best when one looks critically at the 'evidence' presented. I've taken this text as one of many perspectives on the history of the Church and various secret societies, but wouldn't take it as 'gospel,' if you'll forgive the pun. Treat it as an interesting read, which points out some discrepancies in the history of the Church, and asks some pointed questions about the role of various groups (the Templars, et al)-- and add it to your mental (or literal!) library along with other works on the same topics.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on February 26, 2004
I am struggling to find another qualification for the genre. The factual, bibliographical and contextual support for the theories put forward are very tenuous. That, in my opinion, disqualifies the book as being a serious historic study.
That being said, the theories in the book are curious, and as a result, it reads more like a mystery novel of the type of "The DaVinci Code". It has a little more basis in reality and history that the "Code", but not much.
For those really interested in history of the period, a good place to start would be "The Albigensian Crusades" by Joseph Strayer or "The Cathars in Languedoc" by Malcolm Barber.
For those who like the pulp history of this type, they may try the books by Jean Markale, such as "Montsegur and the Mystery of the Cathars". The sequel to "Holy Blood", "The Messianic Legacy" is not worth the read!
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33 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on December 30, 2003
The authors, in some places, do a great job of presenting facts and analyzing these facts to make their point. But, unfortunately, most of the time the authors present some unproven "facts" and then make great leaps in their conclusion. Very fascinating book overall. Also, in The Da Vinci Code Teabing Leigh is a acknowledgment of the authors of this book. Teabing being an anagram for Baigent and Leigh being for Richard Leigh...little something I noticed while reading both books recently.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on April 26, 2004
I just finished this book and I had to sit down and think about what I thought about it if that makes any sense. It should to anyone who has already read it.
For someone who has not it is a good a description about what to expect from the book as anything else I can say.
I love books like this actually. Ancient secrets, conspiracies, secret societies, suppressed documents, hidden truths all make for fascinating reading.
This appears to be the book that inspired The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown. I have read that book and aside from Browns tendency to invent things and pass them off as truths is a bit excessive even for a novelist it is a good adaptation of this theory. But getting back to this book the authors obviously did a lot of research and include a lot of interesting history in the course of presenting their theory.
The theory being essentially that Jesus Christ did not die on the cross, but somehow survived either by toughing it out or using a decoy - a man willing to sacrifice his life for Jesus. Which one. Obviously both could not have happened, but the research shows it could have been either. This in short
describes well the problems I have woth the book.The authors own theories have contradictions and they make little attempt to sort them out.
According the authors, Jesus was married to Mary Magdalen or Mary of Bethany or both or they were the same woman or perhaps some other, agaion the "evidence" is unclear. Jesus was rich, Jesus was poor, which, well both and neither according to this book.
Supposedly after the crucifixion, Jesus' wife and child escaped to Gaul (France) thereby continuing the royal bloodline through the Merovingians and even into the present day. They theorize that ancestors of Jesus are living today and may still have a claim to the Merovingian throne.
These truths are speculated to be in the possesion of the Priory of Sion, a secret society dating back form the time of the Knights Templar. The authors produce evidence of this is the form the "Dossiers Secret" found in the French archives. Using this document as a base the researched the history of the Templars and the Priory and uncovered odd goings on through history.
Giving the authors credit, there is little documentation available through conventional channels and they dug and researched to come up with a credible theory. Having a credible theory howeverin no way suggests they have uncovered the truth.
The authors admit that they did a lot "reading between the lines". While this can be a legitimate research tool, anything determined by supposition should be backed up by some kind of evidence and just more supposition. Here is where they seem to be lacking. I am not saying that the theory is not true I
am certainly not qualified to make the determination, but I was not convinced.
I noticed the authors getting stuck in several traps of fallacy.
The authors went to great lengths to show that much in the 4 Gospels of the New Testament is contradictory and open to debate. There is no question that the gospels are missing things or perhaps we suffer from a lack of context of the times. In any event they authors have decided that the gospels have been edited, massaged and manipulated over the centuries. The authors have studied works contempory to the gospels and found discrepancies. The biggest problem I noticed was they assumed anything not in the Gospels had to be more accurate than what was included in them.
For example; the authors supposed that the Gospels were edited to make them more palatable to the Romans. Okay then why would another document necessarily be more accurate merely because was written to an Egyptian audience. If a Roman document was massaged to protect the sensibilities of the Romans why wouldn'y an Egyptian document be written so as not to offend Egyptians. They didn't apply the same standards across the board.
It was if they assumed the Gospels were always in error whenever a discrepancy showed up.
The authors use these leaps in logic to make an assumption, then expand on that assumption finding small bits of text that concur with the theory. They then continue on their merry way ignoring what doesn't support the theory, and grabbing any tiny shred based mainly on "what if".
In all fairness I am not saying their theory is not true, but I take issue on the techniques they used. They have not proved their case or even convniced me they have a case. They have innundated he reader with historical minutae and I think confused the issue.
I am guessing that someone could just about make any statement about happenings 2000 years ago and find evidence to support it. I could probably theorize that Jesus was an alien and find just as much supporting evidence as the authors have for their ideas.
If you don't examine evidence that tends to dispute it you have only done half the job. The authors have only done half a job.
I can recommend this book for anyone curious about these theories. These =stories and rumors are not new and are interesting to examine. I think the authors are on shaky ground here unless they examine and debunk competing evidence that does not support their theory.
As I mentioned, the book is interesting and I did enjoy the history of the Templars, the Crusades as well as some insight to the ancient Holy Land.
Parts were somewhat tedious where the authors recount bloodlines and marriages and relationships in great big paragraphs of this and that.
Ohtherwise, the book is fun to read and stimulates the imagination.
I am not however convinced by the "evidence" - there was none to speak of. This book is no threat to anyones faith, just interesting reading.
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