Secrets of Rennes-Le-Château

Lionel and Patricia Fanthorpe

In their acute analysis of scholarly data, the Fanthorpes decry some documents as as “historically reliable as a confession of broomstick flying extracted from a senile geriatric on the rack.” Unfortunately the same could be said for the Fanthorpes and their fanciful and specious theories which appear to be derived from a cursory reading of Holy Blood, Holy Grail. For the uninitiated, this theory holds that King Dagobert II of France (an obscure king of an obscure dynasty, the Merovingians), are descended from a hitherto unknown child of Jesus Christ. Allegedly, a pregnant Mary Magdalene managed to flee Judea and have her descendants settle on the Côte d’Azur and marry into the Merovingian clan. Despite the fact that the Merovingians were essentially bloodthirsty barbarians, the Catholic Church had a “secret” alliance with them to eventually make a holy Christian world under the aegis of Jesus’ progeny.
This conspiracy theory stretches across the centuries with cabals of powerful men controlling destiny behind the scenes. The Fanthorpes eagerly pile on many irrelevant factual points in an attempt to cajole the reader into accepting their short but utterly ridiculous “proof.” For example, in commenting on Lord of the Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien’s connection to the Merovingian conspiracy, the proof is that The Return of The King is just a metaphor for the restoration of Dagobert’s descendants! Illustrated with photographs, maps, magic squares and quadratic equations attesting to the veracity of their theory, the bulk of this book has been presented elsewhere but seldom more amusingly. MM/ES

Publisher: Weiser
Paperback: 256 pages

The Diary of a Drug Fiend

Aleister Crowley

A book not so important for what it says, but for who said it and when, The Diary of a Drug Fiend is self-promoting master of the occult Aleister Crowley’s autobiographical descent into the maelstrom of cocaine abuse. Set during the heady days of the 1920s in postwar Europe, it is also the story of a minor English gentleman entering the equivalent of the Haight-Ashbury of the period. Additionally, the novel provides an allegory for the continuing decline of British upper-class mores such as the “stiff upper lip.” Combining the classic sin-and-redemption story with Crowley’s idiosyncratic view of the occult, this novel continues to be a visceral and captivating story, even in comparison to those of successive generations more rife with moral and chemical debauchery. An interesting note: Crowley claims to have dictated the complete book in its current form in three days to his secretary without any editing, giving rise to the question: Just how effective was his self-administered cure for cocaine addiction anyway? MM/ES

Publisher: Weiser
Paperback: 384 pages

Tarot Divination

Aleister Crowley

This slim volume is a reprint of an article from Crowley's journal The Equinox. The sparse description of the cards and their attributions is a great mnemonic device for those already acquainted with Crowley's vision of the Tarot. But those unacquainted with the Tarot or Crowley's unique take on it are best advised to begin with The Book of Thoth, which outlines his ideas in a more thorough manner. The entire contents of this book is included in the weightier Book of Thoth. MM/ES

Publisher: Weiser
Paperback: 72 pages

The Vampire Film: From Nosferatu to Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Alain Silver and James Ursini

A fairly standard film-history book, this is a taxonomy of the various historical incarnations of the vampire legend—a lengthy list. Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula has inspired more movies than any other book, including the Bible. Not only does the reader meet historic personages such as Vlad the Impaler and Erzsébet Báthory, there are also profiles of such notable movie vampires as Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee. However, the book doesn’t stop here. All of the genre vampire films are painstakingly examined, including Mexican vampires, lesbian vampires, blaxploitation vampires, extraterrestrial vampires, Asian vampires, and various sons, daughters and diverse in-laws of the Count. The book concludes with a thorough filmography including such rare and hard-to-find inclusions as Sheridan Le Fanu’s lesser-known and non-lesbian vampire story The Inn of The Flying Dragon and Santo en la Venganza de las Mujeres Vampiro. MM/ES

Publisher: Limelight
Paperback: 272 pages

The Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk

Maria Monk

This book, first published in 1835, is one of the all-time great anti-Catholic diatribes of recent history. And despite the fact that Miss Monk was proved beyond any reasonable doubt to be a fraud and to have completely fabricated this work, Books for Alert Protestants reprints it as factual history. Read about the lurid abuse of the confessional; the sexual abuse heaped upon poor Miss Monk by priest and abbess alike; the horrible methods of punishment applied; the infanticide of unwanted babies and, last but not least, the general corruption of the Roman Catholic Church—a Catholic Protocols of the Elders of Zion but with rampant sex and cruelty. If only Catholic nuns were brutal vixens like Ilse, She-Wolf of the SS! Alas most nuns only sacrifice their lives to education without any pay or such benefits as Social Security. This was one of the first American mass market anti-religious propagandist tracts. As an imaginative, titillating fantasy of the Catholic Church, it’s great but as an influential piece of anti-religious propaganda, Maria Monk’s disclosures may have paved the way but are not on a par with the aforementioned Protocols. MM/ES

Publisher: Ozark
Paperback: 125 pages

The Borgias: The Rise and Fall of the Most Infamous Family in History

Michael Mallett

Machiavelli wrote in The Prince (Mussolini’s favorite bedtime reading) that if Cesare Borgia had managed to live just a few more years, he could have made himself master of all Italy. After reading Michael Mallett’s The Borgias, one can see that Machiavelli understates the case. Rising from obscure origins in the Spanish gentry, within two generations the Borgias had made themselves equal to all the ruling houses of Europe in regard to power politics. Rather than obsess on one particular family member (a difficult choice), Mallett thinks in terms of general family traits whose qualities manifest themselves in different proportions. These traits consist of religious devotion, poisoning/murder, sexual license (including incest), self-aggrandizement, and a knack for asset management. Although it is tempting to think they burst into history like a storm and then dissipated, the Borgias possessed great staying power. In addition to Rodrigo, Cesare and Lucretia, we also meet the more obscure St. Francisco Borgia, whose was married to the niece of St. Ignatius de Loyola, founder of the Jesuit order. Co-existing with various monsters, murderers and libertines are the ubiquitous younger Borgia women who take religious vows, adding the requisite note to make this the quintessential family of contrasts. Furthermore, the family branches stretched back to Spain and from there to the New World, where the Borgias managed to end up as viceroys of Peru. MM/ES

Publisher: Academy Chicago
Paperback: 368 pages