A roller coaster intellectual journey through the back streets and rat runs of history to uncover the traces in architecture and monuments of a secret religion that has shaped the world.
This sprawling conspiracy theory traces the influence of ancient Egyptian and gnostic ideologies concerning a dualistic, Manichean cosmos prefiguring the earthly order, knowable only through secret, magical lore from medieval Catharism to the French vogue for pharaonic monuments and deities, the astrologically suggestive layouts of Paris and Washington, and the Statue of Liberty (the "Isis of New York"). The conventional explanation for the historical recurrence of gnostic themes and Egyptian iconography-that people peruse old texts and art works and adapt their ideas and symbols to new purposes-strikes Hancock and Bauval (coauthors of Keeper of Genesis ) as inadequate. They discern the millennia-long plot of a shadowy gnostic "Organization" working through usual suspects like the Freemasons, whose hidden hand they see influencing everything from the French Revolution to the founding of Israel. The authors draw eye-glazing webs of connections between historical coincidences-some intriguing, others tenuous and forced-to insinuate a "not altogether impossible" master plan. But their proposed conspiracy never gels. Its guiding philosophies, Christian gnosticism and pagan occultism, don't really mesh, and its agenda seems no more coherent than a perennial opposition to the alleged intolerance and obscurantism of the Catholic Church. The book's crude anticlericalism and conviction that culture propagates by conspiratorial, not intellectual, processes make it a distortion of the gnostic mindset.