Nothing happens anywhere in the cosmos except in interaction with the human mind.
–Mark Booth (a.k.a. “Jonathan Black”)
I’ve just read through Mark Booth’s 2010 book The Secret History Of The World for the 3rd time, and I thought I should just dash off a quick review while it’s still fresh.
With the all-seeing eye on the cover and provocative title, The Secret History Of The World does initially seem like one of those fringy Illuminati!!!-type tomes purporting to tell you what They have been trying to hide from the public. And yeah…there are certainly parts like that. But this book is more about the history of religion and philosophical thought throughout recorded history…and in that sense, it’s something that you can get value out of regardless of whether or not you choose to hang out at the edge of the rabbit hole or dive in.
The basic premise of The Secret History Of The World is that there is a certain “core” set of information that has been passed down through various Mystery Schools for millennia. This information regards the origins of the universe, the nature of reality, and essentially the meaning of life—you know, the “small stuff.” Traditionally, this was highly-protected info and leaking the secrets meant certain death. But over time, as more and more secret societies claiming to be genuine Mystery Schools cropped up—some good, some terrible—there became a greater need to give this info to the general public.
And so Booth takes us through a number of concepts in alchemy, initiation, astrology, and spiritual development—bedrock, foundational concepts that I feel are necessary to “get” before moving forward with this type of study.
For example, the idea that there are three “dimensions” to the human—animal (mind), vegetable (spirit), and mineral (matter)—and that these correspond with different ages/aeons in human history, with the energy of certain zodiac signs/planets being predominant, and so on. Whether or not you believe in this stuff…a lot of the greatest thinkers and scientists and artists over the course of human history believed in it. And in order to fully understand—to “decode”—these works, these basic concepts should be understood.
I read this book for the third time recently—and took a lot of notes—because I precisely wanted to have that “outline” of important ideas and people to base a course of study off of. And I wanted as much “solid” leads as possible…I didn’t want a book that felt “thin” and was built on a lot of claims for which there is no evidence or mostly channeled evidence or whatever. You know…I wanted something that resembled an actual history book, with that metaphysical edge. And this fit the bill for me.
Which is not to say there isn’t material in The Secret History Of The World that isn’t kinda “far out” or based on admittedly vague “here’s the secret info passed on by the Elders”-type source material. But Booth uses such bits (as intriguing as they are) somewhat sparingly…as sort of like the “sprinkles” on the ice cream cone. Whereas if what you want is a workable list of the major figures of alchemy/science in the last 1,000 years, this book delivers.
We’re talking people like Plato, Asclepius, Pythagoras, Thomas Aquinas, Paracelsus, Giordano Bruno, Isaac Newton, and so on. We’re talking about this intersection between metaphysics and science—an intersection that is as relevant today than ever.
At the same time, the spotlight is turned on such religious figures as Zarathustra, Buddha, Jesus Christ, the mysterious Christian Rosenkreuz, and etc.—providing a fresh perspective.
The Secret History Of The World is basically a jumping-off point for countless paths of study and inquiry—a book written in the grand style of the all-encompassing Meta-Narrative a la William Bramley’s The Gods Of Eden—but minus aliens (Booth isn’t into that stuff, as well as casting a slightly askance glance at the Gnostics; but whatever).
It does get a little weird at the last chapter when he’s starting to talk about prophecies of the Anti-Christ—it’s a bit of a jarring switchover—but I don’t feel it “invalidates” the rest of the book. Most books like this (and many YouTube videos), I find, do have some sort of last-minute tonal shifts where it’s like: “here are the very specific beliefs of my particular sect” or whatever. And you wonder: was the entire book just written to support that last theory at the end? Was I being “sold” something?
And it’s a question I did ponder during these three readings of The Secret History Of The World, but I still think the majority of the info in the book is solid. And I think any book you read—”fringy” or not—you have to apply a certain amount of discernment to.
Anyway, if any of the stuff I described sounds like your jam—check the book out! It is probably in my top 5 of books I would recommend to people interested in these esoteric topics.