A sharp, engrossing book for open-minded readers.

READ REVIEW

THE SECRET TEACHERS OF THE WESTERN WORLD

A writer on esoteric and occult subjects looks at the people who influenced Western thought through theories of a “living, intelligent universe through which [individuals] could participate through…[the] imagination.”

In his latest book, Lachman (Aleister Crowley: Magick, Rock and Roll, and the Wickedest Man in the World, 2014, etc.) uncovers the esoteric or “secret” knowledge that underlies Western philosophy. He suggests that two bodies of knowledge coexist together like the left and right sides of the brain: traditional Western philosophies focus on “ ‘facts’ that can be grasped by the senses and proven by measurement,” whereas esoteric ones focus on knowledge of “the invisible and intangible.” The author examines the work of such pre-Socratic thinkers as Thales and Pythagoras and sets their ideas in the context of Greek, Egyptian, Roman, and early Christian history. These lesser-known philosophers, along with more celebrated ones like Plato, were all to some degree concerned with explorations of gnosis, the inner experience of spirituality that could potentially lead everyone to “share equally in the divine.” In the centuries to follow, medieval Christian fraternities like the Cathars and Rosicrucians turned to Gnosticism to challenge established Christian dogmas. As Renaissance Europeans turned away from God and toward science to explain reality, esotericism took on the role of the “unconscious” mind in a world growing increasingly dependent on rational explanation. Yet as Lachman shows, esoteric knowledge persisted, especially in the face of social, political, and economic uncertainty, and could be found in the work of poets as diverse as Dante, Goethe, and Blake. In the modern era, esotericism re-emerged as part of so-called New Age knowledge and practices involving, for example, tarot and astrology. The author’s conclusion—that the time has come for a synthesis of traditional and esoteric forms of knowledge—is fascinating. But where the author is most successful is in how he manages to make basic concepts in esoteric philosophies and history lively as well as readable.

A sharp, engrossing book for open-minded readers.

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-399-16680-8

Page Count: 528

Publisher: TarcherPerigee

Review Posted Online: Oct. 4, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

OPEN BOOK

The debut memoir from the pop and fashion star.

Early on, Simpson describes the book she didn’t write: “a motivational manual telling you how to live your best life.” Though having committed to the lucrative deal years before, she “walked away,” fearing any sort of self-help advice she might give would be hypocritical. Outwardly, Simpson was at the peak of her success, with her fashion line generating “one billion dollars in annual sales.” However, anxiety was getting the better of her, and she admits she’d become a “feelings addict,” just needing “enough noise to distract me from the pain I’d been avoiding since childhood. The demons of traumatic abuse that refused to let me sleep at night—Tylenol PM at age twelve, red wine and Ambien as a grown, scared woman. Those same demons who perched on my shoulder, and when they saw a man as dark as them, leaned in to my ear to whisper, ‘Just give him your light. See if it saves him…’ ” On Halloween 2017, Simpson hit rock bottom, and, with the intervention of her devoted friends and husband, began to address her addictions and underlying fears. In this readable but overlong narrative, the author traces her childhood as a Baptist preacher’s daughter moving 18 times before she “hit fifth grade,” and follows her remarkable rise to fame as a singer. She reveals the psychological trauma resulting from years of sexual abuse by a family friend, experiences that drew her repeatedly into bad relationships with men, most publicly with ex-husband Nick Lachey. Admitting that she was attracted to the validating power of an audience, Simpson analyzes how her failings and triumphs have enabled her to take control of her life, even as she was hounded by the press and various music and movie executives about her weight. Simpson’s memoir contains plenty of personal and professional moments for fans to savor.

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289996-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020

Did you like this book?

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more