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Unreliable and unsourced
on 7 June 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.)
I'm also not sure it's a good idea for a writer to slag off another writer's writing when he uses words such as slumped and pleonastic incorrectly.
The author has obviously done some research for the book and a lot of what he has given us could be of value, but without citing his sources we can never know if what we are reading is the whole truth, the inaccurate truth or simply an addition to the great mountain of guff written about this most interesting of men.