Cults, Conspiracies, and Secret Societies: The Straight Scoop on Freemasons, the Illuminati, Skull & Bones, Black Helicopters, the New World Order, and Many, Many More
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Cults, Conspiracies, and Secret Societies: The Straight Scoop on Freemasons, the Illuminati, Skull & Bones, Black Helicopters, the New World Order, and Many, Many More

3.36 of 5 stars 3.36  ·  rating details  ·  273 ratings  ·  33 reviews
Did you know?

• Freemasonry's first American lodge included a young Benjamin Franklin among its members.

• The Knights Templar began as impoverished warrior monks then evolved into bankers.

• Groom Lake, Dreamland, Homey Airport, Paradise Ranch, The Farm, Watertown Strip, Red Square, “The Box,” are all names for Area 51.

An indispensable guide, Cults, Conspiracies, and Secr...more
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Published August 11th 2009 by Vintage (first published 2009)
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Jen
I almost hated giving this three stars--because it really was interesting.

The discussion of how cults arise and how many are out there was fascinating. Some of them were so nutso that the idea that people would believe it is even crazier. You'd be really amazed how many cult leaders were one (or both) of the two witnesses to the Revelation--and even more have been the Messiah.

Conspiracies were just as engrossing. My guy jokes that I hate conspiracy theories so much that I think they are a cons...more
Brad
Very fun book. Essentially it was an interesting, encyclopedia-like documentation of the most bizarre cults, bizarre conspiracy theories and elusive secret societies, both contemporary and from history. I found the conspiracy theory section the most useful and relevant; I have never understood what compels people to adopt such a bizarre, unsubstantiated worldview. The book offers some insight towards answering this question and then launches into an alphabetic summary of well known and obscure c...more
Heatherfeather
Good introduction to some of the more famous cults, conspiracies, and secret societies of the world. The book doesn't go into incredible detail, but enough to satisfy a mildly curious reader. If you don't want to pick up a tome devoted to one specific cult, etc., and you just want an overview of the more eccentric (to put it nicely) and clandestine aspects of our world, then this is a great book.

Richard Gazala
The lengthy title and subtitle of Arthur Goldwag's book, "Cults, Conspiracies, and Secret Societies: The Straight Scoop on Freemasons, The Illuminati, Skull and Bones, Black Helicopters, The New World Order, and many, many more," belies the brevity with which he addresses most of the myriad subjects between the book's covers. It's true even a mildly avid researcher can find on the Internet or in a public library or well-stocked bookstore vast amounts of exhaustively detailed material devoted to...more
mark
This is NOT Hunter Thompson embedding himself in the Hell's Angels. This is a general reference book, and gives the author's opinion as to why people engage and join these groups and ideas. My interest in the subject has mostly to do with the Conspiracists. Goldwag's conclusion supports my own--that Conspiracists are akin to Religious Fundamentalists. In other words, they both seek external causal explanation for events; and justify their actions accordingly. In psychological jargon, an external...more
Jodi
I don't know why I spent $13 on this book; I almost immediately regretted it. It provides a nice overview-- quite wide-ranging in that it includes groups from all over the world, from a variety of belief systems. It'll quench any mild curiosity, but the writing is pretty terrible and due to the scope, he doesn't get down to the dirty on the groups that deserve another page of the attention. Ultimately, it's a pretty shallow read. I s'pose I should have just bought a book on Jonestown.

As Helter...more
William Demaree
Thank goodness that Goldwag writes with a wry sense of humor; otherwise I would find it depressing to read about so many irrational people out there who believe such weird things. I read this from cover to cover, even though it seems to be written in the form of a reference book. Goldwag writes with authority as well as humor and never really summarily dismisses even the craziest of beliefs here--that someone believes it, not the belief itself, is the noteworthy fact for him.

Shall we start our o...more
Mollymillions
The cults section was riveting, as was the conspiracies section. I'm not really into any conspiracy theory, so maybe that information was old news, but I had never read it before. The secret societies section was a bit of a let down, but not due to the writing. It seemed that all the secret societies followed the same pattern - created by a group of like-minded men, gained members, created rituals and secrets (usually based on Masonic mumbo-jumbo), had some influence, "secret" mumbo-jumbo was "d...more
Dan
this is a guide with different groups/theories listed alphabetically. i decided to read it straight through like a novel. that's probably not the best approach, but i'm on a kick with this sort of thing right now for some reason.

anyway, this is for novice conspiracy aficionados, which suited my needs. don't expect long, digressive explanations, and don't expect to see everything under the sun represented (where for art thou, biggie-and-tupac???). do expect a readable overview and a few answers t...more
Callie Rose Tyler
This book is made up of 3 parts. The first part (Cults) was the best and most interesting part of this book. Next came the conspiracy theories which I believe were written with TOO much bias. The author discredits some theories comparing them to the idea of Intelligent design, as a result the author automatically loses all authority on the matter in my eyes since I, without a doubt, believe in creation. The last part of this book (Secret Societies) was unbearably repetitive since all of these ha...more
Jennifer
This is a fun, breezy overview of the subject matter. It focuses mainly on American cults and conspiracies, and most of it is pretty familiar, but Goldwag has a deft hand and a wry style, which makes for a quick and entertaining read. On the downside, there's no index or bibliography (though he does reference many books in the text), so if you're looking for hardcore research material, this may be a good place to start but you'll want to dig deeper.
Scott Martin
This book read sort of like a Reader's Digest/series of short Wikipedia entries about various cults, secret societies and some of the key conspiracies that people have taken interest in over the last few centuries. Many are known, some are not so known. One certainly learn just enough surface level knowledge of these events. A decent, casual read, one that will seem like either too much or only enough to increase your thirst for more information.
Pr0fanus
While a nice reference book for those unfamiliar with the subjects, the author offers too little information in many regards and is blatantly mistaken on more details. Those familiar with the subjects will find little in terms of new information. To it's credit, the book is written in a rather accessible manner and will no doubt prove useful for those having their first brushes with the subjects.
Katy
Oct 19, 2011 Katy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those interested in this topic seeking general info
Lots of great information in this book, and it is quite broad in scope, while not as in-depth as I would have liked. I would also have liked a bibliography and/or some references, but this book was meant to be general information. For those seeking general information about a variety of groups and societies, this is a good starting point.
Adele
Lots of mini-essays on themes like the Masons, 9/11 theories, and Jonestown massacre. The collection of information is nice, but there isn't much new material here. Anyone with a working knowledge of major conspiracy theories and secret societies will have no trouble navigating the book, but again, probably won't pick up much new information.
Jaime
Very interesting read. It is broken up into three sections, Cults, Conspiracies, and Secret Societies, and then within each section, there is a blurb about each included group. It is more a display of facts rather than explaining the psychology and effects of the groups, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.
Trisha Hale
Boooooorrrrrring! This author took a subject that should have been a page turner and made it as smoothly written as an outdated Encyclopedia. What a disappointing snooze-fest. By the way, I don't think that bigger words=better, more-informed writing. Quite the opposite, as a matter of fact.
Beth
A fun and incredibly well researched look at the wacky world of conspiracies, cults, and secret societies. Highly recommended for when you need to make sense of the Freemasons, the Illuminati, religious cults, and anything having to do with militias or the New World Order!
Sarah Kamiya
Good book! I think the best part is that you don't have to read the book in order, just whatever you're in the mood to learn about!
Tone
The middle section on conspiracies was old news because just about any conspiracy theory eventually works it's way up to the Masons, Illuminati, the Jews or all three. But the sections on cults and secret societies were fascinating.
Wendy
A good quick reference book. Covers alot of different ones but due to the number covered they are quite brief. A good overview of just how many cults and secret societies and theories are floating around and their roots.
Chuck
While it was relatively interesting, I was ultimately disappointed. There was so much covered, but it all just left me wanting to read more. Which might be a good thing.
Gerdien
This is more an encyclopedia than a book. I would use it when I want to look something up.
Anita Dalton
Read in anticipation of a discussion on Houdini's Revenge.
Josh
A comprehensive list of weirdness but not much more.
Regina Hunter
Never can find one with the Orders that I want.
Kevin
An interesting subject made very dry.
Fresno Bob
nothing too exciting or interesting
Grace
brilliant, engaging, and informative
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Arthur Goldwag is the author of Cults, Conspiracies, and Secret Societies, and of -Isms and -Ologies. He lives in Brooklyn, New York with his wife and family.
More about Arthur Goldwag...
The New Hate: A History of Fear and Loathing on the Populist Right 'Isms & 'Ologies: All the Movements, Ideologies and Doctrines That Have Shaped Our World The Beliefnet Guide To Kabbalah The New Hate: A History of Fear and Loathing on the Populist Right: A History of Fear and Loathing on the Populist Right 'Isms & 'Ologies: All the movements, ideologies and doctrines that have shaped our world (Vintage)

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