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Ritual America: Secret Brotherhoods and Their Influence on American Society: A Visual Guide Hardcover – March 6, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Ritual America is an impeccably designed and wide-ranging survey of the topic that indulges in neither sensationalism nor extreme skepticism. Parfrey and Heimbichner cover Freemasons and Oddfellows, Jesters and Rosicrucians. They mine the possible Masonic roots of Mormons and magic. — Brian Doherty, Reason.com

About the Author

Craig Heimbichner: Craig Heimbichner has contributed to Secret and Suppressed II (Feral House), and The Paranoia Conspiracy Reader. He recently appeared on "Decoded" (History Channel) analyzing The Bohemian Grove.


“Secret society historian Craig Heimbichner follows the Middle Path to wisdom. He stays awake when we are all asleep. He works the graveyard shift in the secret lodge. He break-dances with the skeletons in the closet. He does the hokey-pokey with his whole body in. He shakes it all about. He turns himself around. And he tells us what “IT” is all about.” – Joan d’Arc, Paranoia The Conspiracy Reader


Adam Parfrey: Adam Parfrey wrote and edited Apocalypse Culture, Cult Rapture, Apocalypse Culture II, It's a Man's World, and The Secret Source. Steven Heller lionized Parfrey and Feral House in the Winter 2010 issue of Print Magazine, and The Seattle Weekly featured Parfrey and his publishing in a November 2010 cover story in Seattle Weekly magazine.

In Apocalypse Culture, Parfrey introduced readers to freemasonic inquiry, leading to such pop culture manifestations as Marilyn Manson's song, "Kiing/Kill 33"...

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 340 pages
  • Publisher: Feral House (March 6, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1936239140
  • ISBN-13: 978-1936239146
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 9 x 11.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #733,127 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Theodore Torbich on May 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you JUST got this book for the pictures it would be well worth it. This is a catalog, and a very thorough one of all types of secret societies in America's history. There is something on just about every group you can think of from the Odd Fellows to the Masons. It's more than just a collection of material on the societies but a reflection of the cultural milieu in which they operated in the past. You can find period ads for Masonic supply companies, cartoons lampooning Masonic "ritual", gag ritual set-pieces, and all woven into a fine read as well. The quality of the book is very high as well with color plates, hardcover and high quality paper. Get this book you will not be disappointed.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Sandra Stewart on September 8, 2012
Format: Hardcover
When I saw the advertising for RITUAL AMERICA, I thought it was just another one of the recent books about secret societies in America. When I received the package in the mail, I thought there'd been a mistake. I only expected one book but the package was so big and heavy I thought it must be four books.

The first thing I'd like to tell prospective reader of this book is that it is HUGE, and by that I mean ENORMOUS. It's big and beautiful, and packed with esoterica you won't find anywhere else. Once you absorb how BIG the book is, the next glory to appreciate is how it feels. It's a distinct pleasure to touch and turn pages so polished and lustrous.

Flipping through it you see at once that the type design is elegant and refined, with display fonts that convey antiquity without sacrificing a sparkling clarity. The layout is flexible & impactful, relying on an overall double-truck grid with the two major columns carrying the narrative, side-by side down the middle, flanked right and left by generous white space cut in with ephemera. The scheme is serviceable and logical, providing predictability and novelty at the same time.

The herculean effort of gathering and scanning or photographing the graphic exhibits and then retouching and presenting them in context could only be accomplished with the fanatical focus of a lifetime obsession.

The authorial style is wry, light, conversational, and delightfully free of both arm-waving and pulpit-pounding. If the authors have an axe to grind or a cult to sell, I don't what it could be. That in itself presents a formidable challenge to any author presuming to deal with such controversial material.

The extent of the research and scholarship involved is more than evident, and would qualify any author for a Ph.D.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By D. on January 23, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I was reading through Ritual America this weekend and in doing so gained an even greater respect for Adam Parfrey's knack for allowing information to speak for itself. Some of the Amazon reviews roll around the conspiracy this,that and the other, but that's exactly what this book isn't.

As I was reading I realized that the images included on each page served to highlight the nuances of a complex social phenomena like secret societies. An excerpt from an anti-Masonic pamphlet talking about their nefarious influence would be juxtaposed with a ridiculously mundane image from some bit of Masonic kitsch. By the end of the book you are very much left to your own devices to figure out how it all fits together. And if you're like me, wondering what local antique stores or flea markets might have similar tracing boards, posters, etc. as those featured in the book.

Parfrey and his co-author Craig Heimbichner bring out both the mystery and the mundanity of secret societies, and the book serves as one of the best introductions, that I've come across, to esoteric influence as it emerges in everyday life.

Seeing the skill at play in RA, it now gladdens me even more that my "Senior Quote" way back in highschool was carefully chosen from Apocalypse Culture.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Bill on April 27, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I have been interested in the occult and secret societies for years. I am a big fan of authors such as Manly P. Hall, Robert Anton Wilson and numerous others. This book is pretty unique in that it seems less bi-polar than most on the subject. Usually books about Freemasonry are either very pro or very con, many being pretty ridiculous. The authors of Ritual America don't really present their opinions about Freemasonry, so much as document the various initiation rights and ceremonies. The general public tends to be pretty childish in their attitudes about death. This is probably part of the reason Masons are a little reluctant to share to much detail about rituals, which include death imagery. The idea is to encourage one to contemplate their mortality, and hopefully develop a more mature outlook on death. I would agree with a previous reviewer in saying that this book is worth the price for the pictures alone. I was pleasantly surprised to see an entry on the Church of Satan, it's beginnings and eventual split among it's leadership. It gave a very human look at what many perceive as an inhuman institution. Although I liked this entry about the founders of the COS's Anton Lavey and Michael Aquino, I would have liked to have seen a mention of the Temple Aquino went on to found. I suppose there is only so much room in one book, and there is certainly plenty here. A great book for anyone interested in the subject, and a great overview for those unfamiliar with secret societies. Did I mention how great the pictures are?!
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