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Secret Places, Hidden Sanctuaries: Uncovering Mysterious Sights, Symbols, and Societies [Hardcover]

Stephen Klimczuk , Gerald Warner
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Nov. 3 2009

The doors of some of the world’s best-hidden places and most secretive organizations have now been thrown wide open! Some of the names are familiar: Area 51, Yale’s Skull and Bones, Opus Dei, the Esalen Institute. Others are more obscure, hidden by fate or purposeful deception, such as the Mount Weather Emergency Operations Center, the super-secure facility where Vice President Dick Cheney was secreted after the 9/11 attacks, and Germany’s Wewelsburg Castle, which was intended to become the mythological centerpiece of the Nazi Regime. Readers can take an unprecedented look deep inside the off-the-map military installations and shadowy organizations that operate in the murkiest corners of our world.

 


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About the Author

STEPHEN KLIMCZUK is a world traveler and corporate strategist who recently served as head of strategy for late billionaire Sir John Templeton’s main private foundation.

GERALD WARNER OF CRAIGENMADDIE is a popular Scottish newspaper columnist and broadcaster who holds several distinguished European orders of knighthood.


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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT! June 17 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a well-researched book. It is hard to put it down. The subject matter is intriguing and the read is fast-paced. If you want to know about these places and people and want the baggage that the press (for the most part) have encumbered it all with stripped away, then this is the book for you. Cheers!
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1.0 out of 5 stars Waste of time and money July 19 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Un impressive and erelevant list of nothing don't wast your time and money on this attempt to cash in on the listed topics.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
"Secret Places, Hidden Sanctuaries" is an eclectic cornucopia of the elite, the elusive and the esoteric. In just over 250 pages the authors have been able to collate and succinctly detail some of the most fascinating secretive sites from around the world. Ranging from ancient shrines to top secret military bases, we are taken on a tour of a wide variety of locations; some so secret that many readers will be reading about them for the first time.

Others have attempted to tackle this subject but no one commands the broad field with as much authority, knowledge or style. Through this entertaining and informative tome we are provided with privileged armchair admission through some of the world's most closely-guarded doors. "Secret Places, Hidden Sanctuaries" is the much-needed popular introduction to a world which some readers may inhabit and to which some may aspire, which some will envy and others will despise but about which we will never cease to be fascinated.

I heartily recommend this book.

Rafal Heydel-Mankoo
Co-Editor & Co-Author
Burke's Peerage & Gentry: World Orders of Knighthood & Merit
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The hidden world around us Jan. 16 2010
Format:Hardcover
Man has always been captivated by that which he cannot explain, by places he cannot penetrate and by anything which might give him a glimpse of a world beyond his prosaic experience. 'Secret Places, Hidden Sanctuaries' takes us into this world of obscurities, at once stripping away the thin esoteric veneer from the rather mundane 'Usual Suspects' while initiating readers into far deeper, and sometimes darker, mysteries whose origins, motives and aspirations continue to elude us. The authors offer a witty, fast paced glimpse at all manner of secret (and not so secret) societies, places and artifacts- some familiar to most readers, many likely unheard of- which lie quietly beneath the surface of our workaday world, backed up by a wealth of historical, literary and anecdotal evidence. Propagating neither absurd conspiracy theories nor banal and unconditional skepticism, this book reaffirms that we are still truly fascinated by the arcane.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  14 reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mysterious, strange and weird Nov. 10 2009
By David LaGraff - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Secret Places, Hidden Sanctuaries is a book about, well, secret places and hidden sanctuaries, many of which generate quite a hullabaloo. The authors have have opted here to out the truth, and during the process more than a few cultural icons are smashed and burned, but many are saved, depending on the facts of the case. Some of the stories are light-hearted and some are downright ghastly. The thread holding all this together is the authors sharp-witted running commentary laced with acerbic wit.

The wide-ranging global tour begins at Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland and winds up at the Hillcrest Country Club in Los Angeles, or, rather, from the smoke and mirrors of Dan Brown's DaVinci Code to the cigar smoke of George Burns. The tour is all the more enjoyable because the authors have worked hard to find information not readily available anywhere else. I consider myself fairly well-versed, but I still picked up at least one new factoid per page. The volume dresses out to 251 pages, so that's a lot of factoids.

I would like to see more pictures, perhaps posted on the companion blog ([...]). I hope a sequel is being planned. I hear the Scientology people have built a secret prison up in Happy Valley ...

A rewarding read, with a running time of about 10 cigars.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A "secret, hidden, mysterious" book that lives up to its title! Jan. 14 2010
By Arturo de Hoyos - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I'm the first to admit that I'm a skeptic and more than a little cynical when it comes to books purporting to unveil secrets, hidden things, and mysteries. Not only is my personal library well stocked with promising titles, but as a member of more Masonic organizations than I can count I've learned that the word "secret" in a book's title is a near guarantee that the contents are ho-hum, and the sources out-of-date. Happily, this book is like a breath of fresh air. When it uses the word "secret" in its title it actually delivers--and does so in a big way. Make no mistake: this book is no catchpenny riding on Dan Brown's coattails; don't expect scandalous revelations of the "Illuminati" in Rome or Washington, D.C., nor lurid tales of depravity among the rich and famous (well, maybe a few). Rather, authors Klimczuk and Warner take the reader on an intriguing and fascinating tour of real places in the world which often have a surprising, bizarre, secretive, and even mysterious history to them.

The authors skillfully walk a careful line between debunking and titillating, and in so doing demonstrate the difference between sense and nonsense. Written in an engaging and entertaining style they explore many sites which have attracted the attention of less responsible authors. They dispel credulous notions foisted upon the gullible and uninformed, and replace them with truths which are compelling and satisfying. They reveal, for example, that at Rosslyn Chapel, Scotland, authentic medieval scholars see stylized representations of wheat, strawberries or lilies, rather than the alleged carvings of "corn" (maize) touted in The Hiram Key. In treating Rennes-le-Château they cut away at the mystery of Holy Blood, Holy Grail, and reveal the truth about Saunière's wealth--he was a crook. But Secret Places, Hidden Sanctuaries is not an exposé in the popular sense of the term. Rather, it introduces the reader to some very interesting nouns--people, places and things--which s/he may have never known existed, or may have encountered in rumor or fiction.

The book's (coincidental?) thirteen chapters investigate a myriad of shrines, holy sites, unholy sites, citadels, secret government installations, curious islands, totems, secret bankers, secret societies, and private clubs. The plans behind Himmler's "Nazi Camelot" (Wewelsburg, in Westphalia, Germany) are laid bare, as is the U.S. government's emergency home-away-from-home at "Mount Weather Emergency Operations Center" in Bluemont, Virginia (a scant hour from my home). Other secret locations, such as Area 51 and Menwith Hill (America's super-secure "listening post" in Yorkshire, England, for SIGINT satellites) are among the big fish caught in the net.

But I confess a peculiar interest in the "secret" societies and clubs. One of the most peculiar was Walt Disney's exclusive (and non-Masonic) "Club 33," a kind of high-powered getaway. Although this book is good, it's not perfect. In discussing Freemasonry, for example, the authors assert that "Hiram Abiff [sic] is absent from the Swedish Rite, which is based on other figures and other legends." Well, yes and no. Adoniram or Adoram--he's called both in the Swedish Rite's lecture of the Third Degree--is merely a different name for Hiram Abif, an artifact inherited from using the text of Abbé Pérau (Gabriel-Louis-Calabre), L' Ordre des Francs-maçons Trahi (1745), in the creation of its rituals. Change the names and the stories are virtually identical. But this is minor and forgivable. However, the statement that a system of high-degree Freemasonry known as "The Scottish Rite (Rit Ecossais) ... originated with Catholic, royalist, Jacobite Scottish Exiles in France" is just wrong. The authors need to read Lobingier's The Supreme Council, 33° (1931), Harris's and Carters's History of the Supreme Council 33° (1964), or Fox's Lodge of the Double-Headed Eagle(1997). A good deal of the Scottish Rite's ancestry was in France, but the system was created in Charleston, South Carolina, and boasted several Jews among its founders. Scottish Rite Grand Commander Albert Pike (1809-91) is called "a different kind of occultist" and a "prolific esotericist." Surely, Pike was interested in esoteric symbolism, but his book Esoterika: The Symbolism of the Blue Degrees of Freemasonry (1888) dismissed the "pretended knowledge" of the Theosophists. He even called Balsamo (Cagliostro) and Blavatsky "charlatan[s]." The authors cast such a wide net that we should forgive them for pulling in a few worthless fish.

Moving on, I enjoyed their chapter "Islands of Mystery." From the real "forbidden island" Montecristo to Easter Island to Iona and others, there's enough to educate an intrigue. The reader who seeks totems will find not only a host of crown jewels, but the sword of Charlemagne, the lance of Longinus (a.k.a. the "Spear of Destiny"), and my favorite: Oliver Cromwell's head! On that high point I'll conclude this review by giving a little advice to potential readers: if any of these topics is of interest, then this book is for you. I enjoyed it, and believe you will too.

Arturo de Hoyos, 33°, Grand Cross, KYCH
Grand Archivist and Grand Historian
Supreme Council, 33°, S.J.
Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry
Washington, D.C.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book - essential reading for anyone interested in the subject Jan. 19 2010
By Rafal Heydel-Mankoo - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
"Secret Places, Hidden Sanctuaries" is an eclectic cornucopia of the elite, the elusive and the esoteric. In just over 250 pages the authors have been able to collate and succinctly detail some of the most fascinating secretive sites from around the world. Ranging from ancient shrines to top secret military bases, we are taken on a tour of a wide variety of locations; some so secret that many readers will be reading about them for the first time.

Others have attempted to tackle this subject but no one commands the broad field with as much authority, knowledge or style. Through this entertaining and informative tome we are provided with privileged armchair admission through some of the world's most closely-guarded doors. "Secret Places, Hidden Sanctuaries" is the much-needed popular introduction to a world which some readers may inhabit and to which some may aspire, which some will envy and others will despise but about which we will never cease to be fascinated.

I heartily recommend this book.

Rafal Heydel-Mankoo
Co-Editor & Co-Author
Burke's Peerage & Gentry: World Orders of Knighthood & Merit
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A genial and brilliant guide to the mysteries Jan. 10 2010
By R. A. Coulombe - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This book purports to give us entree into some of the world's most mysterious sanctuaries and refuges. Boy, it REALLY delivers. The places covered are wide-ranging, from the Vatican to Yale University; along the way, the authors deliver bite-sized chunks of history, far more informative than their brevity would suggest. In the cours of the journey, they thoroghly debunk a number of prized modern mythologies: the Holy Blood-Holy Grail cycle (from whence Dan Brown pilfered so much of his material); the survival of the Templars, and a number of others. But they are not mere deniers. Many of the places and items they visit, like Yale's Skull and Bones or Hungary's Holy Crown of St. Stephen, really do have an aura of the unexplained about them. Where possible, they explain; where not, they scratch their heads with the rest of us.

Never boring, the book manages to cram a lot of information in a short space, while maintaining the geniality of an old friend who happens to know a lot more than you do --- but really wants to let you in on it all. Even when dealing with sheer drivel, the author's are more bemused than derisive, and always with a hint of sympathy; after all, some people really do believe this stuff --- and some things do ineed appear to go bump in the night. May a sequel appear soon!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good bedtime reading Nov. 10 2011
By D. Autrey - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A very well-written book. Starts off by blowing off the Dan Brown hysterical history. Once the more prominent conspiracy theories of Brown and the people he copied from are disposed of, the authors present a whole host of far more interesting and factual oddities. Though not a deep read, it is thoroughly interesting and is just the sort of book to curl up with in the winter. It's interesting enough to be re-read a number of times. That's the highest recommendation I can give a book.
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