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A Magick Life: A Biography of Aleister Crowley Hardcover – 3 Aug 2000

4.4 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton; First Edition edition (3 Aug. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340718056
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340718056
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 24.3 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 596,253 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

Aleister Crowley, occultist, poet, novelist, bisexual adventurer and drug user was not a man to inspire half-hearted reaction in his own lifetime. He was either adored or vilified. So Martin Booth's crisply written, agenda-free biography which sets out simply to tell the truth objectively is a welcome addition to Crowley literature.

Born to a wealthy brewing family, Crowley, whose parents belonged to the fanatical Plymouth Brethren sect, had a miserably repressed childhood. He spent much of the rest of his life apparently trying to shake off what he regarded as the filth of Christianity. Magic for Crowley, who decided while still at Cambridge in 1898 on a career as a magus, was intrinsically linked to human will. He came to believe that he and his disciples could control almost anything by exerting will. Like the poet WB Yeats he joined the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Eventually he became leader of the Order of the Oriental Templars or Ordo Templi Orientis, which survives as a huge international cult organisation and gave Booth access to its archives. As Booth says "Crowley may have been oversexed but he was first and foremost a religious and not a debauched character". But famously, and how the tabloid press loved it, Crowley believed that sex was what liberated the creative force necessary to his "work" and he had ritual (and spontaneous) vaginal and or anal intercourse with many hundreds of women and men all over the world. Sometimes the rituals--upon which Booth is to be congratulated for sparing us too many prurient details--involved animals too. Drugs changed the perception of the participants.

Booth's book does what it promises. It provides the extraordinary facts and leaves you to decide for yourself from an informed position whether this man--in whom interest has grown considerably since his death in 1947, especially during the 1960s--was merely a degenerate charlatan or an impassioned, although arguably misguided, magical missionary, pitiful at the end of his life.--Susan Elkin


Booth is as balanced a chronicler as Crowley has yet seen (The Spectator)

Martin Booth's biography is a compelling introduction to the man... Booth has done an amazing job of presenting the facts and letting his readers make up their own minds. (Midweek)

I am not sure that Crowley deserved Martin Booth's dedicated research and enthusiasm. (Independent Review)

A Magick Life serves as a perfect, accessible introduction which carries you to the edge of something darker... Absolutely essential reading for anyone with an open, inquisitive mind (Manchester Evening News)

Thorough, fascinating and frequently funny (Daily Mail)

[Crowley]'s latest and best biographer (The Times)

A fine, fair and gripping piece of work that places Crowley before the reader in all his bizarre intensity (The Sunday Times)

Readable and enjoyable... Strangely compelling (Sunday Telegraph)

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Years spent studying Crowley and his Magick has left me feeling that there was something more to Crowley than other biographers were revealing. After reading Martin Booths excellent version of events surrounding Crowley's life the missing pieces came into full focus. This is a well written, superbly researched and articulate account of the man himself. No stone is left unturned and Crowley is revealed 'warts an all'. From this perspective one is left able to judge his magickal work from an enlightened perspective. Recommended whole heartedly.
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Format: Paperback
It takes a bold biographer to attempt the life of such a bizarrely complex and famous (or notorious) character as Aleister Crowley. Martin Booth has done a good, thorough, highly focused job, even if more scholarly writers could cite sources beyond the wide range of those he has used, and could also pick up various small points of inaccuracy. Booth has striven for dispassionate objectivity, but in the nature of things, Crowleyites will probably argue that the book understates the artistic, intellectual and 'magickal' achievements of the Great Beast 666, while the sceptical may equally well complain that Booth has underplayed the absurdity of Crowley's philosophical pretensions and the gross callousness of his relationships with the many weak and unhappy people who fell under his spell. However I'd suggest it's a measure of Booth's success that his biography will at least provide something for both camps: hard detailed information for the earnest student of Crowley's life and of the history of the evolution of modern occultism, and a measure of entertainment and bemusement for those not persuaded that Crowley was - to quote Raymond Greene, one of the sources Booth doesn't mention - anything more than 'a very silly man'.
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Format: Hardcover
I have come across Aleister Crowley's name quite a few times in various books i have read, and i was always curious about the man. After looking at a few reviews of the books that supposedly give an insight to his life, this one was the most recommended, as the other publications were not "warts and all". This book certainly is, the man was a perverted, egotistical, bisexual, drug and sex addict who was also an occultist with a razor sharp wit and mind. He was a mountaineer, a poet, a philosopher, a liar, sometimes kind but frequently cruel. He travelled widely, often alone and often on a whim and found himself more than once at the centre of scandal. He is also the most fascinating person i have ever read about.

This particular book was quite hard to find, but was worth the effort. If you read only one book about this remarkable man, then make sure it's this one.
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Format: Paperback
Although I had been aware of Crowley for many years, I had never actually read anything by him or about him. I became interested after reading a book about black magic which mentioned him a lot. This is without a doubt a fully enjoyable and informative read, detailing from the beginning, his formative years and the indoctrination and dogma instilled into him by the religious sect he grew up with. This helps you to understand why he formed the opinions and attitudes he did, especially toward women. How intriguing he loathed women, yet could not live without them, always on the lookout for the next scarlet woman. It is a brilliant insight into Crowley's psychology and personality, and how this affected his relationships with others, both male and female. Crowley would have been field day material for the modern day psychologist in terms of diagnosing personality types and possibly disorders. The book is a journey into the constant adventure of his fascinating life and all people who were a part of the adventure,and what became of them in the end. I would recommend this as a good place to start for anyone wishing to know about Crowley's life, and his involvment with and introduction to magickal practices. Especailly engaging is the section about Thelema and his time at Cefalu.
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Format: Paperback
Aleister Crowley has been a controversial figure for most of his life & for the years thereafter. I have heard such descriptions as "devil incarnate" used for him. This book, however, doesn't portray the "hyped-up" figure from the media at the time. The Crowley portrayed in this book is a actually a sad man who never set out to be seen as a devil.

Crowley was a very troubled youth living in a strict Plymouth Brethern household. Had he had a more easy going & conventional personality then this upbringing would never have caused him to follow the lifestyle that he did. Crowley started off on the road to black magic and sex orgies as a "stand" against his strict upbringing & for freedom.

This book is very well written. Crowley's childhood & family events which obviously had great bearing upon his later life are well documented allowing the reader to make their own comparisons between Crowley's early life & subsequent events. The author doesn't allow himself to fall into the trap of excessively describing magical or sexual events in order to popularise his work. The descriptions are factual & without excessive sensationalism making this a book that is easy to read as a factual biography as opposed to a tabloid expose.

Crowley is a fascinating man & no doubt a modern day psychologist would have had a field day had he been a patient. This was a very interesting book which i enjoyed very much.
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