I purchased this item sight unseen, based upon the website hype and the fact that it was in the bargain bin. Not at all what I expected. Pretty academic with a sociologist's focus on rituals and belief. 23 'Secret Societies' each receive about 10 pages of treatment. Half of each essay is devoted to the specifics of 'initiation rituals' in each sect, the other half to lore related to the sect or the sect's place in history. The author's thesis is that, throughout history, all secret society initiation rites are very similar and are all about 'brainwashing'. Pretty wide coverage including: the Assassins, Knights Templar, Sufi, Gnostics, Witches, Rosicrucians, and Tongs. Some of my other favorite sects/cults are missing. Also missing (despite the books academic patina) are footnotes. However, there IS an Index. The original copyright of this book is 1961. I read a 1998 reprint published by MJF books.