Tuesday, January 17, 2012

PW: Ritual America

Publishers Weekly has published this review:

Ritual America: 
Secret Brotherhoods and Their Influence on American Society: 
A Visual Guide
There have been hundreds of clandestine clubs in America, but as Coleman notes in the foreword, we “[do] not know much about the hidden landscape in which we live everyday.” In unmasking this “widespread covert reality”—a motley group of secret societies from Elks and Masons to the Ku Klux Klan, the Bohemian Club, and the Rosicrucians—Heimbichner, a contributor to Paranoia magazine, and Parfrey (editor of Apocalypse Culture) survey secret passwords, garments, handshakes, songs, and initiations to show how these offbeat orders and brotherhoods have shaped America. The pages are packed with unusual images, many not previously printed, in paper ephemera, postcards, cartoons, sheet music, and art by numerous illustrators, along with kooky costumes and helmets. Controversial figures such as Scientology’s L. Ron Hubbard and “Masonic Pope” Albert Pike are profiled. One bizarre section has ads for items (like axes) used in hazings and sadistic initiation pranks. The military is described as “a bastion of Masonic membership,” and a dubious connection is drawn between waterboarding and “fraternal traditions.” The total effect is that of a tattered, bulging scrapbook of outré oddities on high-quality slick paper with an attractive graphic design. (Mar.)

No comments: