Why did I love this book?
Symonds sometimes writes as if he has a grudge against Crowley, but despite his obvious moral disapproval it’s still the classic biography. When it first came out in 1951, Karl Germer (head of Crowley’s magical order, Ordo Templi Orientis) was appalled, and said it would set the cause back a thousand years. Instead it transformed Crowley into a cult figure, from being unfashionable and half-forgotten at his death in 1947 to being on the cover of the Beatles’ Sergeant Pepper twenty years later. Since then it's been through several expanding editions and versions, including King of the Shadow Realm in 1989 and finally The Beast 666 in 1997. Hugely readable, for years this book “was” Crowley, and it is also the only major biography written by someone who actually knew him.