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Aleister Crowley - The Biography: Spiritual Revolutionary, Romantic Explorer, Occult Master and Spy

3.71  ·  Rating Details ·  99 Ratings  ·  25 Reviews
This definitive biography of Aleister Crowley (1875-1947), the most notorious and controversial spiritual figure of the 20th century, brings together a life of world-shaking 'magick', sexual and psychological experimentation at the outer limits, world-record-beating mountaineering and startling prophetic power - as well as poetry, adventure, espionage, wisdom, excess, and ...more
Hardcover, 496 pages
Published September 1st 2011 by Watkins Publishing (first published January 9th 2011)
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James Bojaciuk
Nov 15, 2014 James Bojaciuk rated it did not like it
Great biography can only issue from two people: the clear-headed honesty of the admirer (Edmund Morris' Theodore Roosevelt biography trilogy is a great example of this), or from the unclouded hatred of a detractor (any Hitler biography worth the paper it is written on).

Tobias Churton is neither of these.

Instead, one gets the sensation that Churton does not merely admire Crowley, and does not merely worship Crowley, but actively wishes he could be Crowley himself in all his satanic glory and blac
Walter Five
May 09, 2013 Walter Five rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
One might have thought that with such recent and revealing biographies as "Perdurabo, Revised and Expanded Edition: The Life of Aleister Crowley" and "Secret Agent 666: Aleister Crowley, British Intelligence and the Occult," that there was little left unsaid, or undiscovered about Aleister Crowley.

One would be wrong.

In this book, the author, Tobias Churton, suprisingly grips the reader's attention in the first few chapters, revealing insights to family matters and ancestors never before brought
Michael William West
Something of a drag in the end, Aleister Crowley exists to provide some degree of sensation, I wanted to be given the threads of sex magick, Thelema, poetry etc. rearranged in complex new forms - but then this is a British book by a British scholar about a British visionary and so conformity must apply. I think Tobias Churton tried too desperately to 'rescue' Crowley from being dismissed as a weirdo, as is the auto-response mechanism for anything even faintly subversive in the UK, but relentless ...more
Michael Kelly
Apr 20, 2013 Michael Kelly rated it it was amazing
An excellent biography, and a very fair one, which makes plain just what a genius the man was. This is borne out by quotes and letter extracts from the people who really knew him, giving perhaps the most accurate portrait of the Beast that has yet emerged.

It sets a few old myths straight through accounts from people who were actually there and covers matters which are often ignored, such as his relationships with his extended family and his children. Proper weight is given to the latter years of
Nov 15, 2011 Gary rated it really liked it
Shelves: esoteric, biography
Of all the many Crowley biographies, Churton's approach has done more to reveal the uniqueness of Crowley the person in conjunction with the uniqueness of the times and events in which he lived and reacted and impacted. The book became more enjoyable as it progressed, although a bit heavy-handed on the spying aspects (real or conjectured) of Crowley's life. A refreshing and subtle exploration of a larger-than-life yet all-too-human personality.
Rupert Rawnsley
Starts well, but is far too long; some chapters read like a biographers unedited notes. The author assumes to much knowledge of the dark arts, and having clearly "drunk the Kool-Aid", is unable to offer any skeptical view of what is patently medieval mumbo jumbo. None of this diminishes the man himself, who was fascinating and misunderstood.
Jul 22, 2012 Jill393 rated it liked it
It was thick, it was hard to read, and it didn't give me much insight into why he was the way he was. It was interesting in that I realized how little I know about the time he lived... and my understanding of world history is severely lacking.
Mar 25, 2017 GooseberryCompote rated it liked it
Got up to chapter 13.
Simeon Readingape
#003.05 SIMEON: This sounds like something out of "Gravity's Rainbow". p. 379 "In May 1940, as the 'outsider', the man 'too dangerous' became PM, Karl Germer was deported from Belgium and interned in France. The Germans advanced, the British evacuated Dunkirk in June and the country braced itself. Crowley contacted the Ministry of Information: 'Saw Sunday Dispatch Girl Friday. Stuart of Ministry of Information was there. Submitted England, Stand Fast with a little lecture.' Despite the patriotic ...more
Laneth Sffarlenn
Jan 07, 2017 Laneth Sffarlenn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People wanting a relatively unbiased look into Crowley as a person and an esoteric figure.
Shelves: esoteric
The life of one of history's most notorious esoteric figures glides off the pages in this biography, detailing without reservation the best and worst parts of the man and the legend he built around himself.

While there's no doubt in my mind that he achieved most of what he boasted throughout his life, a healthy dose of scepticism should be taken when it comes to some of his more grandiose claims. Without having been there, it's impossible to verify the truth of such things, but I like to believe
Carmen Tracey
A satisfactory overview of the life and times of "The Beast," this biography does a great deal to polish up Crowley's oft-tarnished reputation. Unfortunately, the author's favorable opinion of Crowley ends up whitewashing many of his major flaws and presents a biased viewpoint. Keeping that in mind, however, this is an enjoyable read.
Neil Michaelis
Nov 11, 2013 Neil Michaelis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wisdom
After reading a few Crowley bios and finding them either biased totally against AC or so fundamentally packed with minute facts and detail, that they became daunting or frankly dull, I was somewhat surprised by this gem. Well written from excellent (and purportedly previously unpublished) sources I think that this is one of (if not the) finest example of a Crowley biography out there.
Benjamin Bryan
Apr 03, 2016 Benjamin Bryan rated it it was ok
I love biographies, and I had much higher hopes for this one. I had trouble staying focused with the writing style, and it seemed a bit biased. Still, I'll give it two stars instead of one; I did learn a few things from the read.
Feb 01, 2013 Meadfairy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although this book did debunk many of the myths of Crowley, it was difficult to read mainly because of the format. Although documented chronologically, it did jump back and forth within chapters often making it hard to keep track of what happened when.
Jan 04, 2013 Lilly rated it it was ok
Shelves: gave-up-on
I found it all melted into one big lump of text, and sadly as with so many books on Crowley, there are more claims than facts, (imo) there are a lot of things claimed that seem fantacy.

I gave up on this book.
Mar 05, 2013 Eric rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Second attempt at reading this biography. I cant believe I am saying this but it is too complete (and I read Chernow), too much magic, too much to stop reading and research. Almost have to know the material already to read.
Jun 24, 2014 Damien rated it did not like it
B+ for content, F for terrible writing.
Sep 12, 2012 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting take on Crowley. I'm not entirely convinced by the spy stuff. Leaves him feeling quite like Jung when you strip it all down
Informative but drags

Learned a lot about the man behind the myth book did drag on and on about his magic and orders got very boring after awhile
Chris O'connore
Jan 07, 2013 Chris O'connore rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great read. I've always been suspicious of Crowley's bad rep, and this book sheds a lot of light on his life and ideas. He's a very inspiring fellow!
Patrick Whitman
"As to my reputation, I'm the Silent Martyr. Jesuit calumny is the shining token of my Mission".
p. 352
Dec 20, 2015 Crippled_ships marked it as my-library  ·  review of another edition
Some nuggets of information, but overall a quite messy and badly edited book. Definitely not the "end all" biography heralded by the blurb...
Dec 28, 2014 Madeleine rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Churton writing Bill Breeze's fantasy of AC.
Derek Fenner
Dec 10, 2011 Derek Fenner rated it it was ok
Shelves: esoteric
Just not up to par with Perdurabo.
Oct 25, 2012 Richard rated it it was amazing
surprisingly very interesting- didn't think "Perdurabo" left much out, but this book clears up a lot of things. highly recommended.
Russell Smith
Russell Smith rated it really liked it
Oct 22, 2012
Gwyll rated it liked it
Aug 14, 2012
Fredorourke rated it it was ok
Jul 27, 2016
Harrie Harrison
Harrie Harrison rated it it was amazing
Oct 10, 2015
Bernard Wilson
Bernard Wilson rated it it was amazing
Oct 24, 2016
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Tobias Churton is a filmmaker and the founding editor of the magazine "Freemasonry Today". He studied theology at Oxford University and created the award-winning documentary series and accompanying book The Gnostics, as well as several other films on Christian doctrine, mysticism, and magical folklore, such as "A Mighty Good Man" (2002), a documentary on Elias Ashmole, his religious ideas and Maso ...more
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“The more religious people are, the more they believe in black magic. (Aleister Crowley)1” 0 likes
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