Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Members Only: Secret Societies, Sects, and Cults -- Exposed! By Julie Tibbot

What are they hiding?  So begins this tantalizing non-fiction title, preparing the reader to delve into the secret (and sometimes not-so-secret) histories of twenty-two groups following alphabetic order and concluding with the Thugees, which, I was fascinated to learn, is with whom the word “thug” originates.  Each chapter follows a template which provides the date or period in which the group originated, their current status, and summarizes in one sentence the group’s exclusivity, secrecy, threat, and quirkiness.  
After this half-page profile in a text box, Tibbott goes on to introduce the reader to the history and background of the group, followed by a section on how to get in and what reportedly goes on within the group.  Interspersed throughout the text are photographs, symbol illustrations, and relevant features on topics.  Examples include Zora Neale Hurston’s account of meeting Felicia Felix-Mentor (an allegedly zombified woman) following the chapter on the Bizango (founded in Haiti in the 18th century), and a list of big name Masons ( including contemporary public figures Jesse Jackson and Shaquille O’Neal along with historical personages like Oscar Wilde and George Washington).  Perfect for older adolescent readers requesting information on the Illuminati (see page 89), the biggest problem with this book is that unsurprisingly, the author chose not to cite her sources. --Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Tibbott, Julie.  Members Only: Secret Societies, Sects and Cults--Exposed!  San Francisco: Zest Books, 2014.  Print.

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