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Perdurabo, Revised and Expanded Edition: The Life of Aleister Crowley

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  703 ratings  ·  60 reviews
The name “Aleister Crowley” instantly conjures visions of diabolic ceremonies and orgiastic indulgences—and while the sardonic Crowley would perhaps be the last to challenge such a view, he was also much more than “the Beast,” as this authoritative biography shows. Perdurabo (the magical name Crowley chose when inducted into the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn) traces Cr ...more
Hardcover, 720 pages
Published August 10th 2010 by North Atlantic Books (first published January 1st 2002)
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K.J. Charles
Well, that was certainly a book which I read.

Massive bio of Crowley which deserves the epithet 'exhaustive/ing' if only for the potted biographies of literally everyone he ever met, usually including their parents' names, educational history, career etc. This for, eg, someone he had sex with twice. He had sex with a lot of people. This is a large part of what makes this book so unreasonably gigantic. Thank heaven for ereaders, my wrists can't take much more stress (the latter probably something
Dec 15, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law." - Aleister Crowley

Aleister Crowley, born in 1875, was the scion of a wealthy British family who made money in breweries, railroads and chemicals with international concerns. They were devout Christians from Quakers in the 1700's to Plymouth Brethren in the 1800's, strict sects of evangelical Protestants. Taught at various religious schools, he was initially a sickly boy. In teenage years he began to question the faith of his family. He developed
Feb 14, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Clown, con artist, spiritual explorer, drug addict, mountain climber, moral degenerate, poet, ritual magickian, religious prophet; the guy had a busy schedule. This is a thoroughly researched and well-written biography of a man that society didn't know what to do with.
May 12, 2017 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Al Swanson
Nov 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, biography
Hmm... OK, the rating is certainly for the book and the writing rather than the man or the author's affinity for him.

While I'd been interested in magic (in the form of what I thought magic was, you know, cauldrons and witches and evil warlocks) since I was a kid, it was in my late 20's when I first heard of Crowley. I bought 'Magick in Theory and Practice' from an occult shop in Oakland, CA and immediately went WTF??? when I started reading it. For whatever reason - and though almost every othe
James Hartley
May 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a long, intermittently fascinating, enlightening book about a character who continues to pervade western culture. I learned a lot from it but then I started from a position of great ignorance, basically knowing Crowley for "do what thou wilt", Led Zeppelin, Sgt Pepper's and a vague understanding that he was a black magician.
Kaczynski has an idiosyncratic way of telling Crowley's story which can be frustrating (not really explaining some of the terms and ideas Crowley was advocating or pl
Jun 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
This book is a compendium of Aleister Crowley’s life, from birth to death, and an overview of his following up till today. As far as I know, it is very detailed and thorough. It does not go very deeply into any one part of his life; it covers the breadth of it. I would have liked more depth in some places, but it is great for what it is.
It gives short biographies of almost everyone that comes into Crowley’s life; while their religious histories may be relevant, a lot of it seems unnecessary.
I wo
Oct 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Comprehensive, objective, Crowley's life in complete, beginning to end. In addition to being well written and interesting to read, it also became clear to me through reading how much the author devoted to his research. The last 100 pages or so actually contain the footnotes and indexes - I have the feeling that blood, sweat and tears are contained in this book. You will meet nearly every person Crowley ever met, and every Scarlet Woman, too. (Oh, the women!) STILL left me wanting a bit more, tho ...more
Dec 20, 2015 rated it liked it
This is a weighty tome from an author who clearly cared about the subject. Sometimes one feels he might have cared too much... at least one might feel that while drowning among the minutia of Crowley's life.

The density works against it, but its greatest sin (at least in my eyes), is that it uncritically accepts Crowley's magickal claims. The existence of occult realms is presupposed, as is Crowley's interactions therein. Whether or not one personally believes in such things, I don't generally fe
For everyone seriously interested in Crowley a must-read. Often entertaining and always interesting, does his membership in the O.T.O. Kaczynski not prevent from a serious and academically trustworthy approach to the many complicated subjects of this complicated man. His approach is neutral but sympathetic, what lacks here is a more direct engaging with the critique of Crowley and analysis of his character traits. He provides maybe the biggest amount of sheer data about the life of the inventor ...more
Aug 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Without a doubt the most complete 3rd party view on the Master's life. There are so many biographies out there, and some of them are way too biased to be anything but necessary references to have in the library just in case. The best is still the Master's autobiography, but Perdurabo is the next best thing. Very well researched, loads of pictures in it, and as balanced as it is thorough. To Mega Therion had his faults as a person, and the author does not gloss over these, but neither does he hid ...more
Jeanne Thornton
Sep 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Pretty intensely detailed! After the Cefalu abbey stuff, it kind of keeps going on and on with a depressing regularity and banality--mostly centered on AC psychologically destroying his most recent sex magic partner, suing people for defamation, pursuing extravagant publishing projects, cashing in on Scene Cred, or all four--which is impressively researched, but which is really a downer. I read this in conjunction with Eye in the Triangle, which I think was a good choice: Kaczynski sort of plays ...more
Aleister Crowley seemed to be quite the busy boy. Judging from the quality and breadth of this biography the author was quite busy as well. I especially appreciated the summary biographies of those surrounding Crowley as a way to ground the telling of his life. One addition that might make this complicated life more approachable is two pages devoted to time lines laying out when he was were he was, when he met who he met, and so on. As a starting point for study, a mostly unbiased addition to an ...more
Ian Wong
Jun 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A brilliant biography of 'The Wickedest Man in the World', tracing his life from rise to fall to rise again, and disproving the majority of the scandalous anecdotes, accusations and sensational tabloid headlines that were a constant feature of his later life.

The irony, of course, is that the truth is stranger than fiction, and it's a surprise that anyone needed to make anything up or exaggerate facts to discuss this extraordinary, extraordinary genius.
Jul 12, 2008 marked it as abandoned  ·  review of another edition
Out of print, hard to find, expensive, and now superseded by a much revised and expanded edition. ...more
Dave Summers
Jan 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: best-bios
Exhaustive in detail, at times painful to read for the clarity of the picture of this noteworthy man. Again, he’s a mighty connecting node to some of the other major people and processes of the last century, primarily in the arts/literature and religion/philosophy. Recommended.
Jul 08, 2010 rated it liked it
More than you could ever want to know about this vile, vile man. Interesting read, to be taken with a dram of salt.
Jun 13, 2015 rated it liked it
Crowley was a complex man, maybe not your first entry book, a little dry, but fascinating nonetheless
Sep 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
What to say about this humongous book- one of the best biographies written about Aleister Crowley (and there are a few on the market). First the good- the author has done tremendous amounts of research and footnotes hundreds of points and source documents in each of the chapters. Crowley's early life history is well written and would be novel for most readers. Personally, I enjoyed the first half of the book probably more than the later (more famous) half in which Crowley was known for his infam ...more
Dec 18, 2012 rated it liked it
A detailed biography that dispels many myths about the man. I have not read Crowleys actual work and the author almost assumes some familiarity with it. This is a very well done book for it's purposes, however it is so detailed that it is hard to enjoy at parts. Even very minor characters in Crowleys life have tangential biographies about them and their family. While scholastically acurrate this can prove burdensome. Though the web of influence and aqcuantences Crowley amassed is quite impressiv ...more
JoHnny Haddo
Jan 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
as much as I enjoyed reading..Perdurabo..I don't really buy into the Crowley myth, the man spent a life-time chasing smoke & shadows, just another Edwardian rich loony-tune,too much money in the sky-rocket,old bean.. an ego & a libdio the size of K2, proved the devil has work for idle hands..hahaHa..did he need the laws of Thelema to get laid,or was your man just a sex-freak, how much of what he claimed is truly, true..?? You will never know.
If god's look after their own, they let poor Aleister
Nov 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent account of one of the world’s most controversial and misunderstood geniuses of the last 200 years. Objective and well-researched, written with an excited and concise style that makes this a very readable book worthy of rereading. The many nicknames, both given and self-proclaimed, gave him many guises through his many endeavors in life in both the material and spiritual worlds. His poetry wasn’t as original as Yeats, but his sense of language and style were ornate and musical despit ...more
Apr 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
A well-written academic biography of 'Uncle Al'. It's strange reading something that is written about him in a non-sensational manner. He was certainly a complex character. A lot of his more 'scandalous' behavior just had me shaking my head. What can you do when the literal magick is gone from a partnership.

He lived large. He dared. He had big ideas. He did BIG things. He had not a single f*ck to give and he was hated for it. Pretty much the best trust fun kid ever. Well done, To Mega Therion.
jesse mabus
Feb 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: occulture, biography
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

what a wild ride. exemplary in every way

"Ah, you realize that magick is something we do to ourselves. But it is more convienent to assume the objective existence of an angel who gives us new knowledge than to allege that our invocation has awakened a supernatural power in ourselves." - 'little sunshine' to james laver, 27mar1947. (542).

the Great Beast is dead!
long live the Prophet of the lovely Star!

Love is the law, love under will.
Marc J.
Aug 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Having read several biographies of Aleister Crowley's life this one ranks as the most non-sensational, objective and sober view of an extraordinary life, pioneer of the inner self and outrageous forward thinker whose thoughts while alive are just now beginning to become mainstream.

This is a very accessible book to a pioneer of the fringe who applied the scientific method as far as it would take in search of the range and scope we call the human psyche: Magick Without Tears.
Sep 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: goth-interest
Charles Hill This is the authoritative biography of the great beast. If you only read one book on, about, or by Crowley read this one. If you are a curious person, a fanatic, or a skeptic the author of this biography treats this book with the most respect with which one could write a Crowley book with. Recommended by Maynard of Tool and David Tibet of current 93.
Jan 07, 2014 rated it liked it
I now know more about Crowley than I did, but had to wade through paragraphs of biography about dozens of bit players in his life. Crowley certainly comes across as a reasonable fellow in this book rather than the Wickedest Man in the World; I'm not sure the author made it clear why the two opinions exist. ...more
Cory Alexander
Feb 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
great writing. research is extensive. really enjoyed the mini biographies on the people who entered his life sometimes for even a short period of time. really contextualized his life. a few dull chapters in the early to mid section of book. the dates are very interesting. an unbiased detailed account of the life of "THE BEAST." ...more
Matt Root
This is an extraordinarily well-researched book, with detailed information not only on Crowley but on pretty much everyone who crossed his path over the course of his life. As such, it's likely of immediate value to those with a keen interest in 20th c occultism. But was less helpful for someone like me, who really just wanted an introduction to the man vs. the myth. ...more
Aug 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, esoteric
A meticulously researched and objectively presented biography of this uncompromising and unique personality. The sublime, the callous, and the mundane events are equally chronicled from the astounding career of this intense mage.
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Richard Kaczynski is an American writer, musician, research scientist, and lecturer in the fields of social psychology, metaphysical beliefs and new religious movements. He is known for his biography Perdurabo: The Life of Aleister Crowley (North Atlantic Books, 2010), acclaimed by the Times Literary Supplement as "the major biography to date" of the Edwardian enfant terrible, and regarded by the ...more

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“A happy homeowner, Crowley plunged more than ever into the trappings of his Scottish surroundings. He took long walks over the moors, hunted red deer and grouse, and called himself Laird Boleskine. On the edges of his land, he hung signs reading “Beware of the Ichthyosaurus!” and “The Dinotheriums are out today!” 0 likes
“Guests are requested not to tease the Ghosts. Guests are requested to be as quiet as possible while dying of fright. Breakfast will be served at 9 a.m. to the survivors of the Night. The Hastings Borough Cemetery is five minutes walk away (ten minutes if carrying body), but it is only one minute as the Ghost flies. Guests are requested not to dig graves on lawns, but to make full use of newly filled graves under trees. Guests are requested not to remove corpses from graves or to cut down bodies from trees. The Office has a certain amount of used clothing for sale, the property of guests who have no longer any use for earthly raiment. 40” 0 likes
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