"James Wasserman has gathered the most beautiful, authoritative, and complete collection of Crusader and Templar images available anywhere. But this is not just a picture book. Wasserman's text also gives us an exceptionally clear, historically accurate, and esoterically true account of the history of this most mysterious of medieval knightly Orders. His sense of the way in which Templar esotericism fuses Judaic, Islamic (Ismaili), and Christian elements is a welcome and convincing alternative to the usual conditioned view that sees the three great religions separate and opposed."--Christopher Bamford, author of An Endless Trace: The Passionate Pursuit of Wisdom in the WestDespite the increasing scholarship devoted to the study of the Templar order, founded in 1119, the mystery surrounding the Templars endures. Secret societies from the Freemasons to the Ordo Templi Orientis claim descent from this religious order of warrior-monks. As the private army of the pope, the Knights Templar were initially established to protect Christian pilgrims traveling to the Holy Land but grew to become one of the most powerful organizations in the Middle Ages.James Wasserman, author of the bestselling The Templars and the Assassins, provides a fascinating history of the Order and the many mysteries and legends that surround it through a unique and lavish assemblage of more than 170 illustrations. These include images from manuscripts from the Crusades, interpretive romantic paintings from the great masters of the 18th and 19th centuries, and contemporary photographs by Steven Brooke and Vere Chappell of former Templar strongholds in Europe and Jerusalem. Wasserman presents the evidence for the Templar connection to mystical Islamic organizations such as the Assassins as well as their ties to "heretical" groups such as the Cathars, who were expunged because of the challenge they presented to the orthodoxy of their time. In addition to chronicling the Templars' actions during the Crusades, Wasserman revisits the trial and charges leveled against them, showing how the Order was ruthlessly crushed. He also explores the nature of the treasure they left behind, which has fueled popular imagination for centuries.JAMES WASSERMAN, a thirty-year member of the Ordo Templi Orientis, is the author of the bestselling The Templars and the Assassins: The Militia of Heaven, The Mystery Traditions, and The Slaves Shall Serve: Meditations on Liberty. A longtime student of the occult sciences, he has a played a key role in the publication of many seminal works by Aleister Crowley and is responsible for the widely acclaimed restoration of the Papyrus of Ani, The Egyptian Book of the Dead: The Book of Going Forth by Day. He lives in New York City.