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Cults, Conspiracies, and Secret Societies: The Straight Scoop on Freemasons, the Illuminati, Skull and Bones, Black Helicopters, the New World Order, [Paperback]

Arthur Goldwag
1.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

11 Aug 2009
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 Secret Societies connects the dots and sets the record straight on a host of greedy gurus and murderous messiahs, crepuscular cabals and suspicious coincidences. Some topics are familiar—the Kennedy assassinations, the Bilderberg Group, the Illuminati, the People's Temple and Heaven's Gate—and some surprising, like Oulipo, a select group of intellectuals who created wild formulas for creating literary masterpieces, and the Chauffeurs, an eighteenth-century society of French home invaders, who set fire to their victims' feet.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 332 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Books; 1 Original edition (11 Aug 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307390675
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307390677
  • Product Dimensions: 20.4 x 13.2 x 2.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 1.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 98,214 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dullard's companion 14 Oct 2009
By M. Jay
I like the debunking content of this book. It's a bit dull though. I've relegated it to the bathroom, but don't even read it on the lavatory. Don't buy unless you're really really into this stuff. For me, a lesson in not using one click purchasing when you've had a drink.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Much like the conspiracy theorists and associated bumphf the author is seeking to debunk he's made the same mistake they have in that he's formed an opinion without evidence and seeks to find evidence to support his conclusions.

If you're going to investigate such things its better to remain impartial and weigh up both sides and then present which side is more probable based on the data. Unfortunately all we have here is a mirror image of the tin-foil hat brigade from the other side of the argument. Personally, I'd rather read someone with an open mind who considers the evidence rather than dismisses that which doesn't fit his version.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.2 out of 5 stars  32 reviews
30 of 35 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Intended as an Appetizer, Not a Feast 7 Oct 2009
By Richard Gazala - Published on
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 each of the subjects Goldwag surveys in his book. This is the advantage, rather than disadvantage, of Goldwag's approach. Goldwag's book supplies only the tantalizing breadcrumbs. He leaves it for the reader to follow the trail if she's hungry to find more information on the matters that interest her, many of which she may never had known of before exploring Goldwag's work. Goldwag's writing is savvy, crisp and clean, often tongue-in-cheek, and he's not afraid to voice his personal opinion on some of the wackier Cults, Conspiracies, and Secret Societies featured in his book. It's a quick, informative and entertaining read, which I believe is exactly what the author intended.
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing and entertaining 9 Nov 2009
By ghostrider - Published on
This book delivers what it promises. It's an entertaning, thoughtfully written compendium of the major groups, people, and ideas that have attempted to explain and/or manipulate this complex, mysterious, fascinating world we live in.

I've known about many of these cults, conspiracy theories and societies since I was a kid. Others have sprung into being during the half century that's elapsed since then. Still others are new to me. The wealth of information in these pages and the new details that Goldwag has unearthed on even familiar topics make this book a valuable resource here in 2009.

Some might quibble at the alphabetical organization within each of the book's three sections; I found it a bit odd at first. However, I'm hard pressed to come up with a better structure. It allows Goldwag to tell the full story of each topic he addresses, whether it stretches over tens or hundreds of years. It also makes it easy to zero in on items that might hold particular interest, and to find your way back to them later. Sources are cited frequently throughout the text for anyone interested in delving more deeply into a particular area.

Goldwag clearly is writing from the perspective of an interested rationalist. That's bound to push the buttons of some folks who hold certain notions as articles of faith. A few of the reviews here are evidence of that. For me, there's something intruiging and thought-provoking on every page. That's exactly what I want from a book of this sort.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Goldwag is a Plaigarist 19 Mar 2013
By A. Royall - Published on
I have not read the entire book- as I frankly was interested in the Assassin section only for my own research. Starting on page 12, paragraph 2 this entire section of work is WORD FOR WORD from William Cooper's "Mystery Babylon" series. I know this because I am listening to it. This shill should be ashamed as he does not credit Mr. Cooper at all. Also, it seems in his introduction he advocates the qualling of free speech if it doesn't agree with his ideas of conformity; or it disturbs his delicate sensibilites. I'm quite sure he is an ascriber to the lodge philosophy in which, by penning this farce, he seems to try to distance himself. I'm most glad I did not waste any of my hard earned money on this stolen work. I would highly advise people to do as I did; go to the public library and don't waste your money.
27 of 39 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars overly ambitious but ultimately insubstantial and too opinionated 27 Aug 2009
By Carbonadam - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I will side with the author that most conspiracies are insanely ridiculous and that people need to believe stuff in order to balanced out the mostly uncontrolled reality we live in. He is however, too opinionated for true objective exploratory writing of this subject matter. He is at the very opposite end of the spectrum of the lunatic fringe he is writing about. While conspiracies for the most part, (I agree with him here) may fill a void in our lives to explain otherwise chaotic incidents, they can not all be fabrications. Sure we landed on the moon, sure aliens and UFOs are nuts, but economic, political, and government back room chess games can not be so easily dismissed and lumped together with every other nut job concept. There is no index in the book. I am sure the author would argue that he put it all in the front so he saw no need to put it in the back. I think it's just laziness. Any non fiction book worth its salt should have an word index. A section for further reading would be helpful too. He does put many sources right in the book but indexing these should have been done.

Ultimately this is a book that very briefly touches all the topics listed on the books cover and inner chapter list. It is written by a writer who considers himself a true rationalist. He is a common-sense pragmatist, to a fault, since he considers any conspiracy, back room surreptitious plotting or hijinks all on, or above the surface, and mostly as isolated incidents. He sees no far reaching conspiracies at all. To show him different facts in any way would undermine his reality just as much as truth that UFOs and real nut bag alien conspiracies are false would undermine the very fringe people he so eagerly writes to debunk. The writer and the fringe he is "setting straight" are at the opposite ends of the spectrum. There is no middle ground in this book. Also, the books cover and title, with it's old world news design, is misleading as to its contents. The author should have titled this book: "My opinions on Cults, Conspiracies, and Secret Societies and how I think all of it is Nonsense and can be Easily Explained."

Anyone looking for any enlightening info, or even just a rational educated approach to these topics for well read people with any dots connected or even speculated about beyond the muck that can be sifted through online should skip this book. This writer sees nothing odd going on. I am not sure which is more frightening, the fringe nuts who think everything is a alien conspiracy, or this guy, who thinks there are no real secrets, or hidden cloaked sinister agendas out there floating through our present. I myself see too may coincidences for it all to have been mentally fabricated as a human need for explanation of world events or chaos.
32 of 47 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Shopping Bag book of "cults" 16 Sep 2009
By Acropolis - Published on
People who criticize this book are not "conspiracy nuts." That kind of blanket prejudice reflects one of the problems with Goldwag's book: it encloses such a wide range of groups within its narrow binding and slaps a provocative label on them. Given this pattern, why not include the Catholic church? Obviously, the book caters to the reader who sees any kind of secretive society as weird or "fringe" and loves having a new gossip partner in Goldwag. The book has no index, and it's definition of cults is simplistic and overly brief. At least, Goldwag acknowledges--or hints at--the legitimacy of the skepticism MANY have felt about 9/11 and the government's failure to prevent these attacks (after so many warnings). Instead of just listing all these societies and giving such brief, thumbnail descriptions of their, in some cases, long histories, why not include a sociological study of why people, being social creatures, form groups that in some cases devolve into "cults" or "secret societies"? Why group conspiracy thinkers, who may not even be "groups" in any formal sense of the term, with cults and secret societies? Are those who think Oswald may have been, as he himself said, a "patsy" or pawn conspiracy nuts? The gov't committee that reviewed the case in the 70's left open that possibility while supporting the Warren Commission's findings. The founding fathers were skeptical of big government AND of corporations. Were they a cult as well?

Part of my gripe with this book is its quick-read, throwaway packaging. A provocative title is slapped on an orange cover, all the indexing is in the table of contents for fast and thoughtless perusal, and the whole shopping bag of groups totals 384 pages. It's an airport purchase, designed to seduce us with its catchy, seemingly investigative title and subtitle. Notice how quickly they are being recycled into the "used" category. Is it possible that readers have found it lacking in substance? This book preaches to its choir of pragmatist readers, and the author gleaned his "information" from, of all sources, the internet, making this another quick-buck deal for the author and publisher.
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