THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE WORLD by Mark Booth

THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE WORLD

As Laid Down By the Secret Societies
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KIRKUS REVIEW

An encyclopedic, lavishly illustrated attempt to discern an alternative-belief system in the broad diversity of ancient paganism and mystical offshoots of the major faiths.

“Christianity contains a hidden tradition of the gods of the stars and planets,” proclaims British publishing executive Booth. While much of this tradition, including biblical allegories, has been denigrated by Mother Church, it has hardly been hidden. The author’s mystical guardian institutions include the Christian-associated Freemasons and Rosicrucians, which both arose at the outset of the 18th century from earlier origins; Cabalism on the Hebrew side; and Sufism from Islam. Much of the problem with this roughly chronological narrative is its hazy documentation: Readers must be content with “a friend of mine” or “an initiate I met” as substantiating sources. Likewise, we must accept Booth’s own innate ability to peer into antiquity and presume the influence of “mystery schools” on such figures as Plato. He seamlessly moves from reportage to proselytizing, presenting for instance a precise date in the 12th millennium BCE as the moment when matter reached its final solidified state in the progression of existence from pure thought (preceding matter itself) through a “human vegetable” state to the present form. Tracing this progression, Booth cites all kinds of permutations, fairy tales and familiar hippie spiritualist icons along the way. Humankind loses its third eye, can no longer directly interact with spirits and deities, must be content with the stifling restrictions of the scientific method to comprehend creation, etc. One culminating highlight: George Washington, a known Freemason, decrees that the capital city be laid out to reflect the geometry of the constellation Virgo, thus inviting “the mother goddess” to participate in determining the future of the United States. Somebody should tell President Bush to please get in touch.

As pretentious as it is outlandish, but at least authentically mind-boggling.

Pub Date: Jan. 15th, 2008
ISBN: 978-1-59020-031-5
Page count: 448pp
Publisher: Overlook
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 2007