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Aleister Crowley: The Beast Demystified [Kindle Edition]

Roger Hutchinson
2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Aleister Crowley (1875-1947) - mystic, writer, poet, astrologer, sexual revolutionary, painter, mountain climber and social critic - has a terrifying reputation. The contemporary press labelled him the 'wickedest man in the world', while he called himself the 'great beast'. Crowley dabbled in the occult, supported Germany in the First World War, was addicted to opiates, and many who associated with him died tragically in mysterious circumstances.

Working from the starting point that behind the demonic reputation there stood a human being, and that beyond the self-proclaimed black magician there was a man hungry for publicity and fame, Roger Hutchinson lifts the smokescreen of mythology to reveal a truly astonishing figure.

Why did this curious product of the Plymouth Brethren found the first 'hippy commune' in Sicily? What led this Cambridge graduate to be celebrated 20 years after his death on the cover of The Beatles' Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album? Why did Mussolini expel him from Italy? Why did a British magazine label him 'the man we'd like to hang'?

Roger Hutchinson reveals the real Crowley: warts, wickedness, talent, courage, cowardice and all.

Product Description


"An astonishing book ... Crowley was one of the most infamous figures of the first half of the twentieth century" Daily Mail "Hutchinson means what he says about demystifying his subject - by the biography's end there's not a stone left unturned" The Scotsman "A level-headed reappraisal of a man whose fantasies were fuelled as much by self-publicity as by any real demonic contact " Scotland on Sunday "Well informed and cool-headed ... one can see that Crowley's own words would be of little use in conveying the facts of his life, which Hutchinson does admirably" New York Times

About the Author

Roger Hutchinson is an award-winning author and journalist. He lives on the Isle of Raasay.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 359 KB
  • Print Length: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Mainstream Digital; New Ed edition (4 Nov. 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005R20VIM
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #360,652 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good intro. to the life of a flawed genius 16 May 2000
By Tanydon
Readers who already have more than a superficial knowledge of the life and works of Aleister Crowley will find very little that is new in this biography. It is really just a re-hash of all the well known scandals and conflicts that plagued Crowleys life (most of his own making). However, for anyone reading about Crowley for the first time it could be the ideal introduction because it is written clearly and simply and without the assumption by the author that the reader has an understanding of Crowleys particular brand of "magick". It is rather unfortunate however that the book is sub-titled "The Beast Demystified", because what this book definately does not do is demystify him, but,to be fair to Hutchinson no single book could ever hope to explain a man as complex as Crowley. If what one wants is a good entertaining read and at the same time something to wet the appetite to know more about this enigmatic man, then this book is as good a starter as any.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Unreliable and unsourced 7 Jun. 2012
This book gives no sources. When will small publishers realise that this renders a book worthless? The quotes are attributed to their originator but only rarely to the work they are from. Information contained within the author's text is never attributed.

Crowley is a fascinating character, about whom an awful lot of drivel (both demonising and deifying) has been written. So the task of demystification is a very worthwhile one, as I suspect he will still be a fascinating character even when all that rubbish written about him has been cleared away and we're left with only the truth (or closest you can expect to get to the truth).

It was especially important that this author gave his sources as I noticed a couple of inaccuracies regarding Somerset Maugham (whom I'm no expert on). On page 95 Maugham is described as being 26 in 1902 (he was born 30/11/1874), and on page 99 'The Magician' was described as his second novel (according to 'The Reader's Companion to Twentieth Century Writers' it was his 8th).

This book is also far too short, and has the feel of a piece of journalism knocked off quickly for the money. We can't know if this was the author's fault or the publisher's. In its brevity it omits a lot of things I've read about Crowley elsewhere that could do with a dose of demystification, for example his rather unbelievable chess-playing ability which only gets one very brief mention. (It isn't, perhaps, a failing that the 'magick' isn't treated in depth, as it would be insulting to the reader's intelligence to treat that nonsense as anything more than an excuse to dress up, boss gullible people about and generally play silly buggers.
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1.0 out of 5 stars A Worthless and Pointless Book 21 Sept. 2012
I've read two other books about Crowley and two by him, including his autobiography "Confessions of Aleister Crowley". This book told me nothing that I didn't already know. It has no bibliography- very unusal in a non-fiction book. Crowley was above all an occultist, yet Hutchinson appears to have to knowledge of or interest in this subject. He calls Dion Fortune a "fourth rate novelist". Dion Fortune's books "Moon Magic" and "The Sea Priestess" are widely regarded (by those who study these things) as the best novels about ritual magic ever written. Dion fouded a magical Order which remains active to this day. Crowley himself wrote (among many other works)"Liber 777" which is again widely regarded as one of the best books on ritual magic ever written. This book is not even moentioned in Hutchinson's index. Nor is Paula "Deidre" MacAlpine who was the mother of Crowley's son and was close to him during the last years of his life. Hutchinson seems to have no real interest in Crowley. nor in the occult subculture in which he lived. I can only assume that he wrote this book purely for the money. The very idea of "demystifying" someone as complex, intelligent, mischievous, unreliable, and powerful as Crowley is in any case absurd. And only a fourth-rate intellect would want to anyway.

If you want a quick, readable, amusing, general introduction to Crowley's life and work I'd suggest "The Magical World of Aleister Crowley" by Francis King. It's about the same length as Hutchinson's book, but far more interesting and informative. "Confessions of Aleister Crowley" by the man himself is very long, but very entertaining and interesting- though not of course wholly reliable! There's lots of other books by and about Crowley. But for heaven's sake don't waste a penny of your cash, or a minute of your time, on this one!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
This book carefully examines the life of Aleister Crowley taking great care not to take sides, which considering the subject matter, is not an easy feat.
His entire life is 'dymsytified' and we get an impression that the beast is more of a spoilt brat, who couldn't get over his fathers death.
The book is constructed historically with various accounts from newspapers and friends (or enemies)as we follow Crowley through his life.
Hutchinson presents Crowley as desperate for attention, who perhaps would have entered for 'Popstars' if still around today; although to view him as a Darius or Nasty Nigel would be to make the same mistake as the author.
We are given this impression by accounts of Crowley as poet, magician, climber,cultist, painter.. i could go on.(like the author)
Rather than a jack of all trades he suggests 'the beast' merely wanted to be loved, to be recognised.. Ah.
In this sense then Crowley is viewed as a kind of Tommy Cooper figure. Somebody acknowledged for his quirky failures rather than his command of his subject and it is this that makes the book so annoying.
How anybody can possible dymystify Crowley without examining his work, notably 'The book of Lies'is nothing but the Devil's work itself! It's like watching popstars without Nasty Nigel. And it is for this reason that one gets the impression the author doesn't quite have the flexibility nor depth of mind to examine such work, years above it's time. Hence he has taken the easy road out, like many biographers before him and explains why the book is an under fed and paltry 216 pages, when it should have been 2160.
If you want to know where Crowley lived and visit it on your summer hol's this book's perfect. If you want to delve and drown inside one of the most tangled yet succinct minds of this century, buy a book actually written by Crowley.
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