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Alexandra Robbins
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Secrets Of The Tomb: Skull And Bones, The Ivy League, And The Hidden Paths Of Po

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3.0 of 5 stars 3.00  ·  rating details  ·  559 ratings  ·  54 reviews
The Ivy League is full of societies and clubs, some public and some very private. But none is as secret as Yale's Skull and Bones, a tiny, mysterious society that has spawned three U.S. presidents, including William H. Taft, George W. Bush, and his father. Skull and Bones' cloak-and-dagger secrecy has prompted people worldwide to attribute to it some of the most staggering ...more
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Published September 4th 2003 by Turtleback Books (first published September 6th 2002)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,211)
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Hillary
This was a disappointing read. I was a big fan of "Overachievers," and while "Pledged" was not as interesting, it was still a decent read. The latest book from Robbins, however, was a huge let down. It was almost painful to read, carrying on for pages and pages about Yale history, reciting old poems, and other stories only peripherally relating to the Skull and Bones society. It seemed like she didn't have enough relevant info for a book, so she added a ton of unnecessary filler to stretch it ou ...more
Cwn_annwn_13
There is a lot of interesting stuff in this but you have to ask yourself how much the information in it can be trusted because for one the author gets a good portion of it from anonymous Skull & Bones members who talked because they claimed they were tired of hearing so much weird speculation about them. So for one, how can you be sure what they told her was accurate and not intentional disinformation. For another even if what they gave her was true, its still information that they chose to ...more
Hilary
Read this book in a day, skimming some parts. Definitely find it interesting how a club that takes only 15 members a year has "produced" 3 US Presidents (Taft, Bush 1 & 2 - plus John Kerry), Secretaries of State and Defense, members of the CIA, heads of every major bank, and a laundry list of employees in both Bush White Houses. Definitely confirms what an "old boys club/old money club" our country and our political system really is in many respects. In short doesn't sound like there's much ...more
Karen
Eh, just ok. It gets long-in-the-tooth in many places when discussing the history of Yale, much of it not related to the society. I decided to read the book because of the publicity about the society during the Kerry/Bush campaign. With all the discussion about what may or may not happen to members who talk, I find it curious if not unbelievable that the author would have access to members who so openly spill the beans--even if she was a member of another secret society. Why on earth would membe ...more
Victoria
Robbins' Secrets of the Tomb has a wonderful thesis but the reader won't be quite sure what that is exactly until the book's last three pages. Therefore, the work is extremely unorganized and confusing. Had Robbins reorganized her work and offered the reader better guidance, Robbins really could have written something very profound by capitalizing off of the power of imagery and running with it. Instead, the book comes off as a hodgepodge of questionable statements and out-of-place personal expe ...more
Jenn
I hated this book! I had previously read one of the author's book and enjoyed that book. But this book was a real let down. I felt led on, that I was going to find out all these secrets! I think I learned more from the movie "The Skulls". Big disappointment for me!
Heather
I have enjoyed Robbins other books, so I was surprised to find this one to be such a painful read. Parts of the book were great; but the rest I had to force myself to read.
Josh
This book read like a term paper, and was just as interesting.
Derek
Robbins' account of Skull and Bones is less sensationalist exposé than it is historical contextualization of the Bonesmen. Her account thoroughly extrapolates the history of Yale, the establishment of the secret societies, and the beginning of S&B, before outlining the much more interesting facts about the society's practices, including the rooms in the building, the initiation, and the network of its alumni. Robbins reasonably spends much of her effort in grounding her research in oppositio ...more
Patrick
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tracy Jones
When I got this book, I thought the book would be more about the conspiracy theories surrounding this secret society. The book did touch upon these in the intro, some of which were pretty absurd that people would even think to be true! So, after reading those, I was glad for the depth, care, and detail the author went into about the truth behind the society. I really enjoyed the chapter about the birth of secret societies at Yale, tradition there, and other societies that have shone and faded in ...more
Michael
I don’t know that this qualifies as an exposé; certainly this isn’t really a revelation of the “truth” as stated in the book description above. In my mind this is more an historical positioning of the famous club within the context of Yale’s sometimes peculiar institutional/social fabric (at least a century-plus back) coupled with various external materializations over the years – “the hidden paths of power” part. In that regard I believe this to be a well-rounded book that justifies what some h ...more
Mark
I approached this book with having been warned that it wasn't the greatest book of all time. However, I was pleasantly surprised.

'Secrets' is well written and informative. I generally thought it was a fun read and I learned plenty. A main complaint of others is that she goes far into the history of Yale itself, but this was one of my favorite sections. The only part that I felt was a bit much was when she discussed the connections that's Bones opened up and who is in those networks.

At times it s
...more
Ruth
This is a book about Yale's Skull and Bones Society. Subtitled The Ivy League and the Hidden Paths of Power. This book delves inside some of the mysteries of the Skull and Bones Society, the building called the Tomb, where they hold their secretive meetings and their bizarre rituals. Where a Yale degree, power and money is all you need to join, besides total devotion to the society. How George W Bush got in ( a family affair ), his secret name is "Temporary". Many of the Neocons are also Skull a ...more
Brandonne
This peculiar book reads a bit like a senior thesis. Ms. Robbins writes either without confidence or imagination, and although the information given is presented factually, I wasn't convinced of its total accuracy. For example, Robbins writes, "The influence of the cabal begins at Yale, where Skull and Bones has appropriated university funds for its own use, leaving the school virtually impoverished." She does not list a source, not even a secrecy-shrouded "well-placed source inside the universi ...more
Jhef
Written by a fellow secret society member, this book was amazingly disappointing. Extremely boring at times, this book says very little while saying quite a bit. I learned next to nothing about Skull & Bones from this book, other than its history, members, and things like 'tap day', and the existence of their island. No REAL secrets are revealed in this book, in fact it does its best to dispell all of the rumors you come across out there. In fact, the author makes the case that the secret fr ...more
John
I love to read history so when I found this book at a used book store for a dollar I thought I'd try it, waste of a dollar.
Leona
Not my kind of book. I read many reviews and I do not care to read it. I thought it would be fiction and maybe part of it is. I only read the introduction and then the reviews. Readers should decide themselves. I will take it back to Goodwill where I got it for 20 cents. I have too many other books to read.
Tina
I checked this item out at the library. No money wasted, but I should have read the reviews before committing hours to the book that never got off the ground. Like other reviews stated, I was hooked at the opening scene. It was written like a suspense novel. I settled in with anticipation. Quickly the tone changed and never returned. The review "Mostly filler, with little interesting content," is a perfect review for this book. The book deserves one more star though. Content aside, the writing w ...more
June
Boy was that disappointing. It was boring, long-winded, and overly dramatic.
Stefanie
This is very thorough and well-researched. The author had a lot of sources going all the way back through the history of Yale and its Skull and Bones, even in the last 1700's and early 1800's. I confess, though, I wanted more of a spooky conspiracy theory story -- more of a "This secret society is ruling the world, mwah hah hah!" Instead it's just a well-documented history of a group very much like a fraternity that's really good at networking and has as its alums a significant percentage of thi ...more
Kirsten
An interesting one to read after Goat. This book purports to tell the truth as to what really goes on behind the locked doors of the Skull & Bones Society's Tomb. The answer? Not a hell of a lot. Almost all the conspiracy theories are false. In truth, membership in the Gones doesn't entitle you to riches, just a lot of connections. Robbins' description of society life in general and tradition-bound life at Yale is really interesting, but the book overall was kind of, well, boring. I guess I ...more
Lesley
I liked this well enough, as I'm interested in higher ed topics. I must admit that I skimmed parts, but I did enjoy other parts. I liked reading about the rituals (since rituals generally fascinate me--why do people continue rituals of all kinds?), as well as the networking aspects. (High powered people can keep things moving along, eh?!)
Jessica
Maybe if I'd went to Yale or had any interest in politics I would have enjoyed this book. Love the author but just couldn't get into the subject.
Patrick
Jan 29, 2009 Patrick rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Patrick by: Nick
A book to skip around in, but certainly an interesting look at Skull and Bones. Robbins' history of Yale seems well researched, but I doubt some of her Skull and Bones sources, especially since they are all unnamed. Secret Societies: Inside the World's Most Notorious Organizations by John Lawrence Reynolds also gives a good overview of Skull and Bones and touches on a few things that Robbins missed.
Jennifer Larson
I always enjoy Alexandra Robbins' books, but this one was not quite as compelling as her others (notably The Overachievers and Pledged). That was mainly due to the lack of one overarching narrative or cast of main characters. It was still a fascinating read, and worth a look, but it just didn't get me as emotionally invested as some of her other work. Still, very interesting.
Lori
I can't really rate this book in all fairness because I couldn't get through it. I ended up skimming alot. Very long winded and I found myself drifting everytime I picked it up. Finally had to pass it on. The parts I did read were interesting in the way of who was a member of Skull and Bones and what positions were acquired later in life. Alot of myths debunked.
Amy
This is a book written about the secret Yale society that has produced so many prominent figures, including 3 presidents to date. I had never heard of it at all prior to reading, I am sorry to say. It was interesting, but way more in depth than I needed, and I would have been just as happy reading a magazine article on it and been done.
Jessie
Not the best written book of all time, but it's always fun to read about things supposed unknown and unmentioned. Reading this during the 2004 election cycle and learning that both Bush and Kerry were members of the same club... just makes a person think about politics and the world we live in.
Jim
Kind of scary how connections that start way back in college, especially among the wealthy and privileged, can have such great influence without the general public really knowing what is going on. Kudos to her for teling people about Skull & Bones.
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More about Alexandra Robbins...
Pledged: The Secret Life of Sororities The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth: Popularity, Quirk Theory and Why Outsiders Thrive After High School The Overachievers: The Secret Lives of Driven Kids Quarterlife Crisis: The Unique Challenges of Life in Your Twenties The Nurses: A Year of Secrets, Drama, and Miracles with the Heroes of the Hospital

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