An inquiry into the politics of power, faith, and mass psychology, by the authors of The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail (1982). Part biblical detective story, part pop-mass-psychology, part theological thriller, this is a work that addresses itself first to the shroud of myth surrounding the historical Christ, emphasizing in a strident tone the point of view--as old by now as Renan's Life of Jesus (1863)--that Christ was not some pallid, other-worldly turncheek but rather a radically temporal spirit: an original Freedom Fighter, the man who would be king. From there, the book proceeds to trace the principle of messianic leadership through later incarnations, both institutional and individual, in historical figures from Constantine to the Kaiser, and in various apocalyptic movements from the Nazarenes to the Nazis. Finally, familiar to readers of The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, there is a journalistic investigation into the activities of the nebulous Priory of Zion, a renegade religious organization dedicated to the restoration of the Merovingian line to the French throne. All this, of potentially great interest to the student of history, politics, and comparative religion, is rendered unfortunately superficial by a cut-and-paste carelessness that reads suspiciously like illustrated journalism assembled more to entertain than inform--or to reach an audience, perhaps, easily titillated by the ""taboo"" of discussing messianism in strictly political terms. In all: an unsolid offering of nothing new.