The Real History of Secret Societies

Length: 12 hrs and 21 mins
Categories: History, World
4.3 out of 5 stars (433 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Welcome to The Real History of Secret Societies, a historical look at the true-life groups which, if you believe the myths, are the unspoken power behind some of the world’s major turning points, from controlling the British crown to holding back the electric car and keeping Martians and Atlantis under wraps.

Prepare yourself. In this course brought to you in partnership with HISTORY®, you will be visiting some of history’s deepest rabbit-holes, across centuries and continents, in search of secret societies in all their varieties. You will journey to some very dark places, and frankly some odd and sometimes silly ones as well. During 24 eye-opening lectures, Dr. Richard B. “Rick” Spence, Professor of History at the University of Idaho, guides you through the fascinating, often mystifying - sometimes disturbing - world of brotherhoods, sisterhoods, orders, cults, and cabals that have influenced human culture from ancient times to the present.

You’ll understand how and why secret societies have attracted some of history’s most brilliant, and some of its most evil, minds. Often demonized by their enemies, many secret societies have become the stuff of myths and conspiracy theories. Why do they exist? And when they are invented or imagined, why would someone pretend they exist? What do secret societies believe? Who do they recruit? Most important, what influence do they have? Buckle up and get ready to find out.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2019 The Great Courses (P)2019 The Teaching Company, LLC

What listeners say about The Real History of Secret Societies

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  • Tp
  • 11-25-19

Far more politics than fraternity.

The Professor starts with a definition of secret society broad enough to include Lenin's Bolshevik movement. So this is one part fraternal history, one part "here's how power hungry people work using secrecy," and one big part speculation - which he readily admits as such. Far more politics than fraternity. Strikes me as more late night TV than university course material. Least impressive of the Great Courses item I've ever downloaded.

63 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars

"Real" history catering to paranoid idiots?

Main audience: tin-foil types. "Theres no evidence that they met, but there's also no evidence that they DIDN'T meet. Satanic cult channeling evil spirits, or coincidence and gossip? You decide."

31 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Outstanding, original, brilliant

This is on of the lighter courses I've taken at the Great Courses Series, but in the department of 'light' courses it is in a class of its own. Who among us isn't even a little bit curious about secret societies and 'the lords of humanity'? Well look no further, this amazing course is the real deal. Packing in almost all secret societies you might have heard of and a bunch more that were very real, and not a little scary (the Japanese Black Dragons for example). I also enjoyed the clear delivery and personal anecdotes that the lecturer provided and only regret he didn't offer more lectures on the social context of secret orders. For example, do they respond to social tension and modern fears or try to hold to a tradition of sort? But that's really my own take. If you're in the mood for a delightful course that will keep you curious without wearing you out - this is the one.

26 people found this helpful

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More questions than answers...

Not that good. Every time the author states " This could be true" about XYZ secret society , at the end of the paragraph he states "but maybe not".

48 people found this helpful

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In depth and fascinating

Great series of lectures. I learned a lot and was impressed with the depth of research presented here. Professor Spence untangles the interconnected web of complexity within the history of various secret societies and presents an objective viewpoint in separating fact from fiction. He also explores when the line between what is true and false seems to blur. Thought provoking and compelling.

12 people found this helpful

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Excellent and intriguing

A thorough survey of secret societies with well thought-out connections between them. The way he keeps linking one to the other and reminding us of ones that we heard of earlier in the series is very helpful. Also, I believe it's the instructor reading this, and he does an excellent job. The man could have a career in voice-over if he ever gets tired of research and teaching.

10 people found this helpful

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Excellent

This series lived up to the description and my expectations. It was entertaining and informative, very high quality production.

7 people found this helpful

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mysticism perverting politics or vice versa?

Either way it's perverted... don't bother with other reviews frustrated with conjecture, this is about secret societies, not physics! Great primer on all types you may or may not have heard about. Great presentation, I would love to take some of his classes.

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very informative. Excellent presentation!

Enjoyed the overinformed lecture ! Very knowledgeable and helpful. It flows beautifully from subject to subject ! Great Job !

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Great series of Lectures! A lot of info new to me.

As a member of a secret society so secret, that many of its own members aren't even aware of it's existence, first of all I'm glad we passed the test. No mention was made of us. Whoopty effin' do. Anyway there was a ton of info on a ton of people involved in a ton of secret society stuff, that I didn't know, and I was quite impressed. . . not that there was stuff I didn't know; the stuff I don't know could fill several volumes... wait. Would that mean the volumes would be empty? then ANYONE could write ANYTHING in those volumes. .. Then again, so what? No I must confess that I was just impressed that they could impress me and interest the Empress enough that she impressed upon me to address the press on the progress of the Empresses interest in the interests of the empire's inquiries into the conspiracy to silence the voiceless whispers of one clandestinely appointed orator of a conspiratory society, never knowing that it was indeed she. -Behold the underwhelmed eye of the Indifferatti, for it sees all, and remains unamused... or something... I forget. Nevermind. good book. read it. or listen to it.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Jezebel
  • 08-15-20

Excellent! It's a great book!

Amazing! Absolutely useful and interesting,I appreciate to listen it,I am glad to found that book.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 08-28-19

Hmmm...

A well presented series of lectures, but I never thought I would see the day when The Great Courses would allow a lecturer to in quote Alex Jones amongst other snake oil salesmen... I won't be keeping this audiobook.