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Books About Secret Organizations of The World

Druids at Stonehenge

A secret society at Stonehenge, preparing to read some Umberto Eco or Dan Brown

I work on the third floor of my library, non-fiction department, number 001-699. We have nearly all of the secret society material. Sometimes not an hour goes by without someone asking for information about the Rosicrucians, Skull and Bones, the Templars, The Illuminati, anything by David Icke, the Freemasons, and more.

Most of what we have up here is speculative rather than historical. All of the books that purport to finally illuminate all the nasty deeds of the various new world orders, have yet to convince the majority. How do I know? Because the books still get cataloged under subsets of secret societies, otherwise they’d have a new category, something like “Secret no more! (see formerly, secret societies)”

I love reading about them, even when I think I’m reading about something absolutely false. The secret organizations of the world, the cults and various mystery religions can make for fantastic stories. Today I’m going to focus on books, some fiction, some non-fiction, featuring secret societies.

I like to do these off the top of my head to see how many I can come up with, then come back and revisit them later as more titles occur to me.

I’ll only mention books I have read:

Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco

Eco’s second novel features Templar knights, powerful computers, lots of big words, a long running joke, and manages to tie just about every secret organization into one unified of paranoia. It’s also really funny at times.

The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier

The not-so-secret society The Vigils rule a private school though psychological and physical intimidation of other students and many of the teachers. Cormier’s books for young adults were extremely dark, back when emo vampires hadn’t hit the scene yet.

The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon

You might not think that a novel about a feud between two mail delivery services sounds intriguing, but please try this one, especially if you’ve tried Pynchon’s other books and been knocked back on your butt (it has happened to me as well). The Trystero are everywhere. If you give this book a close reading, and then one more, you’ll be seeing the symbol of the post horn everywhere you look. Or not. A great read, either way. I love Pynchon.

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

If you don’t already know the story, I commend you and say “You’ve made it this far without the formulaic tale of Opus Dei and albino monk assassins.”

The Book of Mormon

Like The Bible, The BOM contains passages of incredible violence and sinister machinations. The Gadianton Robbers and their “Secret Combinations” make for some great boogeyman stories.

Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix

A very long book where little happens. But you do meet the Order of The Phoenix. In case you are wondering, I am not at all interested in Pottermore and won’t be indulging, even though I greatly enjoyed the Potter books.

The Illuminatus Trilogy by Robert Anton Wilson

The most massive shaggy dog story you’re ever going to read. RAW is an acquired taste, but one I suggest that everyone acquire.

A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle

More Mormons! I love reading the middle of A Study In Scarlet. The bad guys–and they’re really, really bad–are the sinister Elders of the church. Brigham Young himself shows up to make some grave threats on behalf of the Council of Four, a shadowy group that sets one of Doyle’s best stories about revenge in motion.

Them by Jon Ronson

Subtitled “Adventures With Extremists,” Ronson’s book takes a look at many different fringe groups, with his pursuit of the infamous Bilderberg Group at the center of the story. I enjoyed the book but am not sure what to make of its claims. More entertaining than anything.

From Hell by Alan Moore

The only graphic novel I could come up with. Ever wonder who Jack The Ripper was? Who he ran with? Now you can find out with accompanying spare, black-and-white illustration.

Song of Kali by Dan Simmons

If you receive an invitation to visit Calcutta to search for a poet who has already died, don’t go.

The Series of Unfortunate Events books by Lemony Snicket

Hmm…why do so many of the adults have an eyeball tattoo?

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

The black-shirted, black-booted, black-humored members of Project Mayhem inspired legions of young men to stupid acts of mischief and holding amateur fight clubs. But I guess it got them reading. I wonder what Harold Bloom would say about this one?

Hell’s Angels: A Strange And Terrible Saga by Hunter S. Thompson

Dr. T spent nearly two years riding with the California Motorcycle club. It fits the bill because of the levels in initiation. One of my favorites that Thompson wrote. A fascinating look at a closed society that the show Sons of Anarchy is currently tackling, although they’re not Hell’s Angels.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

If I were going to pick one of the Greek Gods to worship, Secret History makes a compelling case for Bacchus and going to church so you can party.

Anyone have any more suggestions?


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  • Tim D June 29, 2011, 11:41 am

    “The Man who would be King” by Rudyard Kipling

    How the Alexander the Great made Afghanistan safe for Freemasons, and how two salty British noncoms in His Majesty’s Army take advantage of the situation for filthy lucre.
    It has Gurkhas too!
    (probably free for your Kindle)

    • Josh Hanagarne June 29, 2011, 11:50 am

      The only thing I love more than filthy lucre is a mess of Gurkhas. Thank you.

      • Tim D June 29, 2011, 12:36 pm

        Well, not a mess of Gurkhas… just one actually.
        But one Gurkha is enough.

  • Travis Byram March 30, 2012, 1:57 pm

    Nice list! I love RAW and appreciate his influence on my perceptions….and his deep sarcasm. As an ex-Mormon, I am fascinated by good literature regarding the terrible secrets of the church’s past. Would you count The Creature from Jekyll Island?

    • Travis Byram March 30, 2012, 2:01 pm

      ….I mean, of course, as a good secret society book, rather than one pertaining to the M. Church.