By gum, do I love a good conspiracy theory. I simply devoured all of those stories surrounding the Illuminati and the Knights Templar and Christ’s ostensible lineage when Dan Brown went a step beyond the scholars a few years back and broke them out into mainstream thought. Thus, I picked up Mark Booth’s book, The Secret History of the World, thinking, “Zounds! More conspiracy theories!” Unfortunately, I finished the book thinking, “Whatever, man.”
There are two main problems with this book: first of all, despite the fact Mr. Booth purports in the preface that his ideas will be new and shocking to the general public since they were [allegedly] given to him by someone within one of the “secret societies” mentioned in the subtitle, the ideas are shockingly unoriginal. Mr. Booth’s work is just a hashed expose on the Freemasons and other such groups that explains (for the 4,000,000,000th time) how they have been secretly setting history in motion for centuries upon centuries and control the major powers-that-be…I mean come on! Even The Simpsons acknowledged that, and I believe the episode I’m thinking of first appeared way back in the mid-1990s!
The other main problem with this book is that Mr. Booth does not cite one of his sources in his text. Sure, he includes a pretty lengthy “bibliography” (essentially just a glorified reading list of the other 4,000,000,000 places where you can read Mr. Booth’s “shocking” ideas), but there are no real sources anywhere, no real indication that he actually conducted any research of any kind. In fact, for all we know, he only read Angels and Demons and The DaVinci Code before writing his book. And Dan Brown can churn out an infinitely better yarn (and I don’t even count Dan Brown as being much original–that should give you some indication of just how unoriginal The Secret History of the World is). Had he just given some indication–even the smallest amount–of any kind of research, I would at least be able to count this book as being well-researched and could honestly say that Mr. Booth is capable of getting you to learn something new.
Instead, he comes off seeming something like the Kitty Kelley of the history world.