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Aleister Crowley: Magick, Rock and Roll, and the Wickedest Man in the World Kindle Edition

3.6 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Length: 387 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

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Review

"Gary Lachman has become an increasingly prolific engine of literate, well-written, and clear-headed books about esoteric history and 'occulture.' "
--Erik Davis, author of "TechGnosis"

"Thinking outside the box, Lachman challenges many contemporary theories by reinserting a sense of the spiritual back into the discussion."
--Leonard Shlain, author of "Art & Physics" and "Alphabet versus the Goddess"

"Clocking in at 394 pages jam-packed with in-depth information, factoids, anecdotes and insights from the first sentence to the last. A historical biography through and through, Lachman's book is meticulously researched and it is quite easy to believe that the author, like a professor well-versed in their subject, could analyze and extrapolate at much greater lengths. The oft touted declaration of Crowley as the Wickedest Man in the World, may well have been overblown in it's own time, but he's certainly not an individual with whom it is easy to empathize. As detestable as he is, there is an undeniable fascination in his exploits, and Lachman seems the perfect man to deliver them."
--The Examiner
"Gary Lachman has become an increasingly prolific engine of literate, well-written, and clear-headed books about esoteric history and 'occulture.' "
--Erik Davis, author of "TechGnosis"
"Thinking outside the box, Lachman challenges many contemporary theories by reinserting a sense of the spiritual back into the discussion."
--Leonard Shlain, author of "Art & Physics" and "Alphabet versus the Goddess"

Clocking in at 394 pages jam-packed with in-depth information, factoids, anecdotes and insights from the first sentence to the last. A historical biography through and through, Lachman s book is meticulously researched and it is quite easy to believe that the author, like a professor well-versed in their subject, could analyze and extrapolate at much greater lengths. The oft touted declaration of Crowley as the Wickedest Man in the World, may well have been overblown in it s own time, but he s certainly not an individual with whom it is easy to empathize. As detestable as he is, there is an undeniable fascination in his exploits, and Lachman seems the perfect man to deliver them.
The Examiner
Gary Lachman has become an increasingly prolific engine of literate, well-written, and clear-headed books about esoteric history and occulture.
Erik Davis, author of "TechGnosis"
Thinking outside the box, Lachman challenges many contemporary theories by reinserting a sense of the spiritual back into the discussion.
Leonard Shlain, author of "Art & Physics" and "Alphabet versus the Goddess""

About the Author

Gary Lachman is one of today's most widely read and respected writers on esoteric and occult themes. His writing has been published in several national journals on philosophy, esotericism and modern culture. In his musical career, Lachman has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a founding member of the pioneering rock band Blondie. Lachman was born in New Jersey and currently lives in London.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2167 KB
  • Print Length: 387 pages
  • Publisher: TarcherPerigee (15 May 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00DGZKHN6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #426,216 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is disappointing. All Lachman has done has gone through Crowleys "Confessions" and outlined all the important bits,just like most of the other 15 or so biographers have done before him.There is precious little here that would be of any interest to anyone who has read any of the previous biographies,apart from a short chapter on people like Ossie Osbourne and Black Sabbath,who know nothing about magick but everything about the value of notoriety.One thing in Lachmans favour is that he is writing as a critic and not as a fan.And there is plenty to criticise.Anyone who can eat human excreta or slit cats throats as sacrifice does'nt make it in my book.Lachman dismisses the fact that Crowley was a MI5 spy out of hand.He obviously has'nt read Churton's recent biography of Crowley,or Secret Agent 666 by Richard Spence,where there is overwhelming evidence that Crowley was in fact working for British intelligence.I was a bit shocked when reading Lachmans notes at the end of the book that he had visited Cefalu and not bothered to go to the ruined Abbey of Thelema because he "was'nt interested ".He actually went up to the presumably Roman Temple of Diana,which is situated above the Thelema ruin,which one would practically have to walk past to get to.If he was so disinterested in Crowley,why on earth did he write the book? This book is worth reading if one is new to Crowley and has'nt read all the other biographies.Otherwise don't bother.
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I've enjoyed Gary Lachman's books in the past, so it pains me to say this one is a bit of a disaster. It reads well, but there are already numerous biographies of Crowley and several massively superior to this. The problem is that it is full of glaring errors - H.P.Lovecraft never mentioned that he'd heard of Crowley (he did); the Loch Ness monster was first heard of in 1933 (no, it dates back to the Romans at least); Flexipop was an "underground" magazine (it was a short-lived pop rag for kids who found Smash Hits too taxing); I could go on - one AC authority stopped counting, he told me, when he got to 30 mistakes. It gives no pleasure to say this as Gary Lachman is a nice guy and well versed in esoteric matters, but this reads like a googled-to-order job. There are not only better books on Crowley but better ones on the occult and music, which despite the title forms only a tiny part of the volume. For completists only.
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Format: Paperback
I read this book as someone with a passing interest in Aleister Crowley who knew little about the detail of his life.

Gary Lachman is an ex-Crowley obsessive who is now more ambivalent and dispassionate, which resulted in a balanced view of Crowley’s life and achievements. So, certainly no hagiography, but still a sympathetic and thorough trawl through the life of an original, and highly influential occultist, and how his legacy and influence have slowly increased since his death in 1947.

Aleister Crowley packed a lot into his 72 years and as such this book is packed with incident and intrigue. Ultimately though, it could be read as something of a cautionary tale.

The final chapter explores how Crowley’s reputation enjoyed an unlikely renaissance throughout the second half of the twentieth century, particularly in the 1960s and 1970s.

A great introduction to the life and legacy of controversial and divisive man.

I enjoyed it so much that, upon finishing, I immediately bought three more books by Gary Lachman.
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Having read a couple of biographies of Aleister Crowley in the past, I wasn't sure if buying Lachman's book would be money well spent. However, his objective analysis, from a previously neglected angle, makes for compelling reading. Few other books look at the impact Crowley had beyond fellow Occultists, and most of them really focus mainly on Satanists. Lachman takes a more panoramic view, dissecting the Great Beast's considerable impact on wider culture - the repercussions of which can still be seen today, if you know what you are looking for. Unlike most Crowley biographies, Beast isn't presented here as a virtual caricature, and Lachman doesn't fall into the trap of simplistic demonising or defending the indefensible. There were far more influences on, and aspects of, Crowley's spiritual journey than is generally perceived. Lachman's esoteric knowledge is both wide and profound, the insights of which he brings to bear on the life and legacy of Aleister Crowley - but he does not dispense with the reality check where necessary, and remembers the importance of context and belief, not to mention the more difficult, but very relevant, issue of evidence, not only in relation to what exactly constitutes Magickal theory and practice, but also the enormity of the task of separating fact from fiction about Crowley himself, the parameters of which the Great Beast worked hard to blur.
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As an introduction to Crowley's life and ideas it presents - as far as I can tell at least - a fairly level-headed opinion of Crowley as neither wholly charlatan or visionary-genius: but as a mixture of both. However, I don't believe this biography was as engagingly written as his book on Blavatsky (which I loved), but this could be a bias on my part, and perhaps has something to do with the nature of Crowley.

However, my favourite part of this book was the closing chapter which brings Crowley's relevance up-to-date in our 'conspiracy mad culture', whereby everybody is seemingly an expert on the occult due to exposure to some rather questionable YouTube videos. Yet Lachman lays out soberly to my mind some of the stranger aspects of the 'Culture of Crowley' in relation to contemporary pop music and pop-occult-aesthetic (Jay-Z and Lady Gaga, etc). This is the part of the book that really renews the Crowley mythos and looks, albeit briefly, into the Beast's legacy right up to the present.

I've noticed a few of negative comments directed at Lachman's work in other reviews, but I think it's down to the fact that he's writing about subjects which people feel great affinity toward (there's a lot of devotees to these subjects and some times it's hard to hear or read a bad word about them). Crowley is one of these, and he still remains untouchable to some people, and this is the same with some followers of Gurdjieff's Fourth Way. Yet, what is so admirable in Lachman's work, I believe, is his attempt to present a 'warts 'n all' analysis, while never patronising the reader. Although that said, he doesn't shy away from offering his own perspective on some of the events and ideas.
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