The Mafia Encyclopedia

Carl Sifakis

Besides all being of Italian heritage, what do the following people have in common: Vinnie “The Chin” Gigante, “Crazy” Joe Gallo, Jimmie “The Weasel” Fratianno, Vincent “The Schemer” Drucci, Angelo “The Gyp” DeCarlo, Willie “Potatoes” Daddano?
In case you are wondering how these people happened to receive their nicknames, The Mafia Encyclopedia will explain them all, along with enough gory photos to satisfy those readers who “never drink… wine.” JB

Publisher: Facts on File
Hardback: 384 pages

Slave Girls

Wensley Clarkson

Plunged into a nightmare of unspeakable abuse and depravity, they lived as SLAVE GIRLS… one of the first glimpses into the shocking world of human bondage… a sordid world of slaves and masters, where innocent young girls are sold to the rich, kidnapped and subjected to horrifying degradation… virtual captives in the mansions of the rich and famous, or in the squalid dungeons of the utterly degenerate… the survivors who lived through the ordeal now tell all… JB

Publisher: St. Martin's
Paperback: 259 pages

World Encyclopedia of 20th-Century Murder

Jay Robert Nash

Compiled by the author of Bloodletters and Bad Men, this illustrated tome retains all the flavor of the aforementioned book. Photographs of ghoulish and asocial types are interspersed throughout the text at appealing intervals. We can even find a rare photograph of Fritz Haarman, the “Ogre of Hannover” with relative ease, along with other infamous killers from every corner of the globe. JB

Publisher: Marlowe
Hardback: 693 pages

Cosmos, Chaos, and the World To Come: The Ancient Roots of Apocalyptic Faith

Norman Cohn

The author has done an admirable job of thoroughly researching his subject. Weaving a virtual tapestry of apocalyptic exegesis, the author transports the reader through the various stages of mankind’s apocalyptic visions, from Egypt to Persia, ancient Mesopotamia, India and, of course, Judaic and Christian revelations. JB

Publisher: Yale University
Paperback: 271 pages

The Devil’s Disciples: Makers of the Salem Witchcraft Trials

Peter Charles Hoffer

The author meticulously investigates the outbreak of hysteria in the small Massachusetts colony of Salem, which led to the infamous witch-hunt conducted under the auspices of the tyrannical Cotton Mather. His presentation of materials from the trials along with his unique interpretation provides a glimpse into the bizarre apparatus propelled by religious fanaticism and superstition, which unleashed the scourge of God against the accused and hapless “witches” and “sorcerers.” JB

Publisher: Johns Hopkins University
Hardback: 279 pages

God Exists! Evidence for the Skeptic

A. Ralph Epperson

Have you ever wondered whether the existence of God can be proved? Well, now you can stop wondering. Ralph Epperson has the answers you have been searching for. Whereas thousands of volumes and millions of words have been needlessly wasted on this subject, Epperson has condensed his argument down to just 24 pages. JB

Publisher: Publius
Paperback: 24 pages

Gypsy Sorcery and Fortune Telling

Charles Godfrey Leland

The origins and history of the Gypsies are obscure, yet their reputation as soothsayers has never diminished over the ages. Leland’s book is well-written and well-researched. Scores of conjurings for all purposes are presented in this book of Gypsy folklore and sorcery. Indeed, the author writes: “As their peculiar perfume is the chief association with spices, so sorcery is allied in every memory to the Gypsies.” Alas, in present-day Los Angeles, one sees less of the romantic, mysterious sorcerer and more of the Gypsy who stops you in a parking lot and asks to pound out the dents in your car for a fee. JB

Publisher: Lyle Stuart
Paperback: 271 pages

The History of Witchcraft

Montague Summers

Summers was a self-appointed man on a mission from God. He was thoroughly convinced of the truthfulness of every accusation concerning witchcraft and devil worship handed down through the ages. With this concept in mind, Summers embarked upon a singularly curious career in researching, cataloging and collating every such accusation he could lay his hands on. Summers was a highly gifted writer, intelligent, if superstitious, and educated. He wrote a great number of books, all dedicated to his favorite subjects: witchcraft, Satanism and diabolic possessions. The History of Witchcraft is one of the most popular of Summers’ books, which covers all of the aforementioned topics. Nary a lascivious or shocking detail is omitted in his scrutinizing and painstaking work. Here are a few excerpts: Lord Fountainhall, in describing the devilish communion of the Loudian witches, says: “the drink was sometimes blood, sometimes black moss water.” Or this: “when the blasphemous liturgy of the Sabbat was done all present gave themselves up to the most promiscuous debauchery, only interrupting their lasciviousness to dance or to spur themselves on to new enormities by spiced foods and copious draughts of wine.” JB

Publisher: Lyle Stuart
Paperback: 353 pages

Our Pagan Christmas

R.J. Condon

Published by the American Atheist Press, this pamphlet traces the origins of Christmas back to its original pagan roots. Yes, the word Christmas, is, of course, Christian, but it was unknown until the 11th century! Many unknown facts are revealed for the edification of the reader, along with a number of illustrations. JB

Publisher: American Atheist
Pamphlet: 20 pages

Sati, the Blessing and the Curse: The Burning of Wives in India

Edited by John Stratton Hawley

The author of this book examines the history and practice of sati (the custom of a Hindu woman willingly being cremated on the funeral pyre of her husband), and presents arguments for and against this bizarre ultimate sacrifice. Needless to add, most rationales in favor are by males, and most opposed are by females—feminists, as the author calls them.
An Italian voyager, Ludovico di Varthema, related his impressions of a widowed Indian woman consigning herself to the flames in an act of self-immolation. He wrote that the women were often drugged into submission by priests clothed like devils, who then coerced them to kill themselves: “If the sati does not die quickly, she is recognized by her family to be a whore.” JB

Publisher: Oxford University
Paperback: 256 pages