16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on November 10, 2009
Secret Places, Hidden Sanctuaries is a book about, well, secret places and hidden sanctuaries, many of which generate quite a hullabaloo. The authors have have opted here to out the truth, and during the process more than a few cultural icons are smashed and burned, but many are saved, depending on the facts of the case. Some of the stories are light-hearted and some are downright ghastly. The thread holding all this together is the authors sharp-witted running commentary laced with acerbic wit.
The wide-ranging global tour begins at Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland and winds up at the Hillcrest Country Club in Los Angeles, or, rather, from the smoke and mirrors of Dan Brown's DaVinci Code to the cigar smoke of George Burns. The tour is all the more enjoyable because the authors have worked hard to find information not readily available anywhere else. I consider myself fairly well-versed, but I still picked up at least one new factoid per page. The volume dresses out to 251 pages, so that's a lot of factoids.
I would like to see more pictures, perhaps posted on the companion blog ([...]). I hope a sequel is being planned. I hear the Scientology people have built a secret prison up in Happy Valley ...
A rewarding read, with a running time of about 10 cigars.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on January 14, 2010
I'm the first to admit that I'm a skeptic and more than a little cynical when it comes to books purporting to unveil secrets, hidden things, and mysteries. Not only is my personal library well stocked with promising titles, but as a member of more Masonic organizations than I can count I've learned that the word "secret" in a book's title is a near guarantee that the contents are ho-hum, and the sources out-of-date. Happily, this book is like a breath of fresh air. When it uses the word "secret" in its title it actually delivers--and does so in a big way. Make no mistake: this book is no catchpenny riding on Dan Brown's coattails; don't expect scandalous revelations of the "Illuminati" in Rome or Washington, D.C., nor lurid tales of depravity among the rich and famous (well, maybe a few). Rather, authors Klimczuk and Warner take the reader on an intriguing and fascinating tour of real places in the world which often have a surprising, bizarre, secretive, and even mysterious history to them.
The authors skillfully walk a careful line between debunking and titillating, and in so doing demonstrate the difference between sense and nonsense. Written in an engaging and entertaining style they explore many sites which have attracted the attention of less responsible authors. They dispel credulous notions foisted upon the gullible and uninformed, and replace them with truths which are compelling and satisfying. They reveal, for example, that at Rosslyn Chapel, Scotland, authentic medieval scholars see stylized representations of wheat, strawberries or lilies, rather than the alleged carvings of "corn" (maize) touted in The Hiram Key. In treating Rennes-le-Château they cut away at the mystery of Holy Blood, Holy Grail, and reveal the truth about Saunière's wealth--he was a crook. But Secret Places, Hidden Sanctuaries is not an exposé in the popular sense of the term. Rather, it introduces the reader to some very interesting nouns--people, places and things--which s/he may have never known existed, or may have encountered in rumor or fiction.
The book's (coincidental?) thirteen chapters investigate a myriad of shrines, holy sites, unholy sites, citadels, secret government installations, curious islands, totems, secret bankers, secret societies, and private clubs. The plans behind Himmler's "Nazi Camelot" (Wewelsburg, in Westphalia, Germany) are laid bare, as is the U.S. government's emergency home-away-from-home at "Mount Weather Emergency Operations Center" in Bluemont, Virginia (a scant hour from my home). Other secret locations, such as Area 51 and Menwith Hill (America's super-secure "listening post" in Yorkshire, England, for SIGINT satellites) are among the big fish caught in the net.
But I confess a peculiar interest in the "secret" societies and clubs. One of the most peculiar was Walt Disney's exclusive (and non-Masonic) "Club 33," a kind of high-powered getaway. Although this book is good, it's not perfect. In discussing Freemasonry, for example, the authors assert that "Hiram Abiff [sic] is absent from the Swedish Rite, which is based on other figures and other legends." Well, yes and no. Adoniram or Adoram--he's called both in the Swedish Rite's lecture of the Third Degree--is merely a different name for Hiram Abif, an artifact inherited from using the text of Abbé Pérau (Gabriel-Louis-Calabre), L' Ordre des Francs-maçons Trahi (1745), in the creation of its rituals. Change the names and the stories are virtually identical. But this is minor and forgivable. However, the statement that a system of high-degree Freemasonry known as "The Scottish Rite (Rit Ecossais) ... originated with Catholic, royalist, Jacobite Scottish Exiles in France" is just wrong. The authors need to read Lobingier's The Supreme Council, 33° (1931), Harris's and Carters's History of the Supreme Council 33° (1964), or Fox's Lodge of the Double-Headed Eagle(1997). A good deal of the Scottish Rite's ancestry was in France, but the system was created in Charleston, South Carolina, and boasted several Jews among its founders. Scottish Rite Grand Commander Albert Pike (1809-91) is called "a different kind of occultist" and a "prolific esotericist." Surely, Pike was interested in esoteric symbolism, but his book Esoterika: The Symbolism of the Blue Degrees of Freemasonry (1888) dismissed the "pretended knowledge" of the Theosophists. He even called Balsamo (Cagliostro) and Blavatsky "charlatan[s]." The authors cast such a wide net that we should forgive them for pulling in a few worthless fish.
Moving on, I enjoyed their chapter "Islands of Mystery." From the real "forbidden island" Montecristo to Easter Island to Iona and others, there's enough to educate an intrigue. The reader who seeks totems will find not only a host of crown jewels, but the sword of Charlemagne, the lance of Longinus (a.k.a. the "Spear of Destiny"), and my favorite: Oliver Cromwell's head! On that high point I'll conclude this review by giving a little advice to potential readers: if any of these topics is of interest, then this book is for you. I enjoyed it, and believe you will too.
Arturo de Hoyos, 33°, Grand Cross, KYCH
Grand Archivist and Grand Historian
Supreme Council, 33°, S.J.
Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on January 19, 2010
"Secret Places, Hidden Sanctuaries" is an eclectic cornucopia of the elite, the elusive and the esoteric. In just over 250 pages the authors have been able to collate and succinctly detail some of the most fascinating secretive sites from around the world. Ranging from ancient shrines to top secret military bases, we are taken on a tour of a wide variety of locations; some so secret that many readers will be reading about them for the first time.
Others have attempted to tackle this subject but no one commands the broad field with as much authority, knowledge or style. Through this entertaining and informative tome we are provided with privileged armchair admission through some of the world's most closely-guarded doors. "Secret Places, Hidden Sanctuaries" is the much-needed popular introduction to a world which some readers may inhabit and to which some may aspire, which some will envy and others will despise but about which we will never cease to be fascinated.
I heartily recommend this book.
Co-Editor & Co-Author
Burke's Peerage & Gentry: World Orders of Knighthood & Merit
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on January 10, 2010
This book purports to give us entree into some of the world's most mysterious sanctuaries and refuges. Boy, it REALLY delivers. The places covered are wide-ranging, from the Vatican to Yale University; along the way, the authors deliver bite-sized chunks of history, far more informative than their brevity would suggest. In the cours of the journey, they thoroghly debunk a number of prized modern mythologies: the Holy Blood-Holy Grail cycle (from whence Dan Brown pilfered so much of his material); the survival of the Templars, and a number of others. But they are not mere deniers. Many of the places and items they visit, like Yale's Skull and Bones or Hungary's Holy Crown of St. Stephen, really do have an aura of the unexplained about them. Where possible, they explain; where not, they scratch their heads with the rest of us.
Never boring, the book manages to cram a lot of information in a short space, while maintaining the geniality of an old friend who happens to know a lot more than you do --- but really wants to let you in on it all. Even when dealing with sheer drivel, the author's are more bemused than derisive, and always with a hint of sympathy; after all, some people really do believe this stuff --- and some things do ineed appear to go bump in the night. May a sequel appear soon!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 10, 2011
I love this book. It is literate and well-written; it is wide-ranging; it is full of fascinating insights into the wonderful weirdness of life, past and present. It's the kind of book I would have liked to have written, if I'd had the authors' ability to ferret it all out. It's a swift, enjoyable, thoroughly engrossing read, and I highly recommend this book for anyone that likes to delve into the nooks and crannies of human passion and eccentricity. A keeper; and a wonderful gift, I think.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 10, 2011
A very well-written book. Starts off by blowing off the Dan Brown hysterical history. Once the more prominent conspiracy theories of Brown and the people he copied from are disposed of, the authors present a whole host of far more interesting and factual oddities. Though not a deep read, it is thoroughly interesting and is just the sort of book to curl up with in the winter. It's interesting enough to be re-read a number of times. That's the highest recommendation I can give a book.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 19, 2012
Any book worth reading will leave you wanting to know more about the subject, setting, or characters. In "Secret Places, Hidden Sanctuaries," authors Stephen Klimczuk and Gerald Warner expertly guide readers through time and territory to over sixty-five mysterious and/or fascinating locations and persons. Knights Templars, Freemasons, Rosicrucians, various cults or religious and lay organizations are included--some debunked, some defunct, and some defrocked of their bogus "secrets." Divided into 13 Chapters with such titles as Mysterious Heritage; Shrines and Sanctuaries; Holies of Holies; (Very) Private Banking, and Jolly Good Fellowship, the material is presented with insider knowledge and subtle wit. In Scotland, the 15th century Rosslyn Chapel long has been credited with being a rich lode of Templar and Masonic lore, yet careful investigation of supposedly cabalistic symbols re-interprets them either as stock motifs used by medieval stonemasons, or wishful thinking by modern esotericists. More recent and sinister is Germany's Wewelsburg Castle, a kind of "Black Camelot" renovated with slave labor by SS Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler as the headquarters of his pagan order of "knights" steeped in Nordic mythology and occult theories. U.S. troops ended this Gothic nightmare in April 1945.
A chapter on secret U.S. locations includes the Federal Relocation Arc outside of Washington, D.C., and Area 51 in the Nevada desert. The Arc consists of over ninety secure facilities where key members of the government would be transported in an emergency such as 9/11. An alternate Pentagon is one of them. The popular notoriety of Area 51 comes from UFO conspiracy theorists insisting that dead alien bodies were taken there; are alive and working on flying saucers; or on vacation at their home planet of Reticulum 4. The truth of the facility is that it comprises a vast testing area for aircraft like the U-2 spy plane, A-12 Blackbird, and F-117 stealth fighter.
Some well-known locations--Easter Island, Malta, Istanbul's Hagia Sophia and St. Catherine's Monastery at Sinai--are featured along with more exotic sites such as the location of the Ark of the Covenant in an Ethiopian church, Mount Athos in Greece, the Stone of Scone, and sacred sites in France, Scotland and Italy. Banking institutions (Of particular interest today!), university secret societies and dueling corps are given their due, as well as venerable gentlemen's clubs in England, Europe and America, including the Hillcrest Country Club in L.A., which has admitted the cream of America's radio, film and TV comedians. LOL.
Klimczuk is a corporate strategist and world traveler who visited many sites in the book. Warner, a Scottish journalist, has authored six volumes on historical subjects, folklore, and curiosities.
Albert Noyer / The Ghosts of Glorieta; Getorius & Arcadia Mystery series
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 8, 2013
The secret world consists of two types of places. The first type consists of those places that we see everyday but which are off-limits. Some of these places are surrounded by fences, barbed-wire, mean looking dogs and even meaner looking human beings, whilst others may be guarded by a stiff ancient porter in gold braid. The second type includes those places that are so secret that we can pass them in the street every day and not even realize they contain secrets. In "Secret Places, Hidden Sanctuaries", Stephen Klimczuk and Gerald Warner provide a masterly tour d'horizon of both aspects of this world. Such is the wide breadth of research that no corner of the globe is left unexplored. Indeed, it is precisely because it is so comprehensive that this book provides an education even to those who have spent a lifetime devoted to uncovering secrets and thought they knew it all. And for those who are merely curious, one needs look no further than this book, though by the end of it, one's appetite will be whetted for more.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 23, 2012
Reading this book is like taking an extended romp through some of history's most interesting places, accompanied by a very engaging and well-read tour guide who makes each stop on the tour even more fascinating. I not only enjoyed every chapter but also learned a lot by reading this book, and I highly recommend it , whether you are a traveler to out-of-the-way places, a historian, a conspiracy buff (or debunker of conspiracies), or just someone looking for the perfect bedtime reading companion.
on January 14, 2014
A pretty dull book that doesn't actually "uncover" much of anything. Superficial treatments of a variety of so-called "secrets" that for the most part aren't even interesting, which is probably the actual reason why these locations, etc. are things that don't get much attention to begin with. Top it off with numerous leaps in logic and assumptions, and I'd say don't waste your money.