Book Review: Aleister Crowley and the Temptation of Politics

Aleister Crowley, the so-called Wickedest Man in the World,  is quickly becoming a subject of serious academic study. No doubt this is greatly aided by the number of scholars working on the Great Beast, but certainly the quality of scholarship produced must also be affecting perceptions about this controversial figure—for the better!

Of course, you’d be hard-pressed to delve into the field without bumping into Marco Pasi, a professor at the University of Amsterdam who’s also an expert on all things Crowley. His recent book, Aleister Crowley and the Temptation of Politics, looks at Crowley through the lens of—you guessed it—politics, and examines the relationships Crowley had with various movers-and-shakers in the political world. It goes without saying that the book provides significant insight into this specific dimension of Crowley’s life.

I had the opportunity to review this book for The Pomegranate: The International Journal of Pagan Studies. If this sounds like your thing, book reviews can be read for free over at the website. Here’s a snippet for those of who you can’t wait:

Throughout Temptation, the reader meets a cadre of well-connected media figures, political agitators and bonafide spies with whom Crowley cavorted during his pragmatic period. These “illuminated politicians,” such as J. F. C. Fuller, Thomas Driberg, and Gerald Hamilton, sought Crowley out as a spiritual guru, and Crowley in turn sought their connections to bring his new religion to the masses. Crowley’s lobbying in this regard has led to much speculation about his relationship to totalitarian regimes (Fascism, Nazism, Communism). Crowley emerges, however, as an ideological chameleon who appealed indiscriminately to large-scale movements which could serve his missionary purposes.

Since this is my first “scholarly” book review, I want to thank Christopher Chase and Chas Clifton over at The Pomegranate for giving me the opportunity to review what is no doubt a very important work for this field. I would also like to thank the folks at Acumen Publishing for generously supplying me with a review copy of the book. Huzzah!

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