They generate fear, suspicion, and—above all—fascination. Secret societies thrive among us, yet they remain shrouded in mystery. Their secrecy suggests, to many, sacrilege or crime, and their loyalties are often accused of undermining governments and tipping the scales of justice. The Freemasons, for example, hold more seats of power in the U.S. government than any other organization. No fewer than sixteen presidents have declared their Masonic affiliation, and there may have been more. Secret societies have infiltrated pop culture as well. Celebrity members of Kabbalah include Madonna, Demi Moore, and Elizabeth Taylor, among others.
From the Mafia and the Yakuza to the Priory of Sion, Skull and Bones and the Templars, Reynolds offers an illuminating and entertaining exploration of the stories—confirmed and fabricated—that surround these societies, as well as provides detailed information on their origins, initiations, rituals, and secret signs. Dispelling myths and providing gripping revelations—such as a direct historical link between the Assassins of the Middle Ages and today’s Al Qaeda—Secret Societies gives us a smart, surprising look at the best known and often least understood covert organizations.