PERDURABO: The Life of Aleister Crowley

Richard Kaczynski, Perdurabo: The Life of Aleister Crowley, rev. and exp. 2nd ed. (Berkeley: North Atlantic Books, 2010). Hardcover, 6” x 9”, 712 pages, list price $29.95. ISBN 978-1-55643-899-8.

Perdurabo traces Aleister Crowley’s remarkable journey from his birth as the only son of a wealthy lay preacher to his death in a boarding house as the world’s foremost authority on magick. Along the way, he rebels against his conservative religious upbringing; befriends famous artists, writers, and philosophers (and becomes a poet himself); is attacked for his practice of “the black arts”; and teaches that science and magick can work together. A tireless magician, prophet, poet, and adventurer, Crowley has inspired generations of social and spiritual truth-seekers and has shaped modern popular culture through his philosophy of “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law,” making him one of the most colorful and fascinating characters of the twentieth century. Taking an evenhanded and accessible approach to an extremely controversial figure, author Richard Kaczynski draws from his extensive academic and personal expertise with the subject matter, including over twenty years of research, to present Crowley’s story in a way that is unmatched by any other biographer. Featuring over 150 pages of new material–including previously unpublished biographical details and rare never-before-seen photographs–this revised and expanded edition paints an illuminating and memorable biography of the man who inspired the counterculture and influenced generations of artists, punks, wiccans, and other denizens of the demimonde.

Praise for the new edition of Perdurabo:

“Aleister Crowley—what a man.  I’ve read several Crowley biographies, and this one takes the prize for most enjoyable and intimate. Mr. Kaczynski has the personal understanding and experience necessary to paint an accurate portrait of Crowley, with all the exciting context in place.  Mr. Kaczynski’s passion for his subject makes for an informative and potentially life-changing read.  Why wade on the shores of such a vast man, when you can dive in?  I think Crowley himself would have welcomed such a loving penetration.”

—Andrew W.K., musician

“I’ve avidly devoured biographies of Aleister Crowley since my teens, because like other great artists (such as Oscar Wilde), half his genius went into his life. Perdurabo is undoubtedly the most complete and best researched of all the biographies, yet manages to be un-put-downable, tragic as well as laugh-out-loud funny—and best of all, it takes the Magick seriously.”

—Peter Lamborn Wilson (aka Hakim Bey), author, Green Hermeticism: Alchemy & Ecology

“Meticulously researched and brilliantly written, Perdurabo is a revealing and unflinching look at the complex, enigmatic and always controversial figure known to us as Aleister Crowley, The Great Beast 666 and Frater Perdurabo. Painstakingly exploring the dark and occasional light in the life and work of this Occult historian, student, practitioner and prankster, Kaczynski has written one of the most enjoyable and riveting reads in recent memory. Newly revised and expanded this is the definitive Crowley biography.”

—Avant-garde musician John Zorn

“If you’re a collector of Crowley biographies, this is an essential addition to your collection.  If you can only afford one Crowley biography, this is the one to get.”

—Sabazius, X°, National Grand Master of Ordo Templi Orientis, USA

“This is not only the most carefully-researched, detailed, and informative biography of Crowley yet written but also a remarkable insight into the nature of magic itself.”

—Ronald Hutton, author of The Triumph of the Moon and Blood and Mistletoe: The History of the Druids in Britain

“Richard Kaczynski’s Perdurabo: the Life of Aleister Crowley is the one biography that is absolutely necessary for anyone who wishes to know more about one of the most creative, seminal, and misunderstood figures of the last hundred years.  There have been many books written about Aleister Crowley, and there have certainly been too many inaccurate books written about him and his work. Perdurabo, however, is the definitive account of a human being who became an avatar—a prophet both honoured and dishonoured, and a stumbling block to the many.  Kaczynski has provided us what I consider to be an almost perfect biography of this remarkable and unclassifiable individual.”

—David Tibet, founder of Current 93

“This is truly an impressive biography of one of the most remarkable thinkers of the twentieth century. In this revised edition of Perdurabo, Richard Kaczynski takes readers through The Beast’s amazing life and work in a sympathetic and compelling fashion. It is an effective combination of erudition and accessibility that will remain the standard biography on Crowley for years to come.”

—Henrik Bogdan, Ph. D., author of Western Esotericism and Rituals of Initiation

“This new edition is essential reading for anyone wanting to understand the Great Beast.”

—Clive Harper,  author of Notes towards a Bibliography of Austin Osman Spare

“The blurb on the front of dust jacket [of the new edition] says: The definitive biography of the founder of modern magick. Having read the first edition of Perdurabo, and every other biography of this controversial figure, I readily agree.”

—Professional sound engineer Oz Fritz, on his blog The Oz Mix

“Perdurabo is the result of many years of painstaking research. Dr. Kaczynski has been able to uncover a host of previously unexplored sources which cast new light on Aleister Crowley’s life and works. Some of them are presented here for the first time in this revised edition of the book. It is an achievement that deserves praise and I am sure the book will be used by scholars and students for many years to come as an indispensable reference work.”

—Marco Pasi, Assistant Professor at the Center for the History of Hermetic philosophy and related currents, University of Amsterdam, and author of Aleister Crowley and the Temptation of Politics

“A brilliant essayist, a superior poet, and an extraordinary artist, mountaineer, and explorer, the Crowley presented in these witty and erudite pages is at once shocking, wise, egocentric, petty, inspirational and, most importantly, real. Roundly rejecting the pantomime villain at the center of previous biographies and deeply suspicious of the nonsensical hero-worship of some of his modern followers, Kaczynski’s portrait of Crowley is balanced and well-informed. Rare illustrations support a superbly written and meticulously researched text.”

—Paul Feazey,

“Richard Kaczynski’s Perdurabo: The Life of Aleister Crowley is a meticulously researched biography of a person whose reputation has been distorted by a long-perpetuated tradition of slanders, rumours, and misinformation. In this revised version of a book that has already achieved the status of a classic, Crowley emerges as a complex, controversial, troubled, and even tragic figure, which is to be expected of somebody who has consistently and with a gusto  challenged contemporary conventions and prejudices. What Kaczynski makes clear, however, is that the driving force behind Crowley’s life and thought is not a sinister perversion of a ‘Satanist’ – a gross but still common misconception – but an attempt to live in accordance with the religious and philosophical tenets of Thelema, of which Crowley believed himself to be the Prophet. The book also provides a wealth of material related to Crowley’s very wide and typically artistic and bohemian social circle. Crowley will probably remain a controversial figure for many, but the readers of Perdurabo will be in a position to assess his life and work based on evidence, and Kaczynski should be congratulated for providing it in abundance.”

—Gordan Djurdjevic, Sessional Lecturer, Simon Fraser University,
and author of Masters of Magical Powers: The Nāth Yogis in the Light of Esoteric Notions

The First Edition of Perdurabo

Richard Kaczynski, Perdurabo: The Life of Aleister Crowley, 1st ed. (Tempe, AZ: New Falcon, 2002), 6″ x 9″, 560 pages.  EDITIONS (in order pictured): Paperback, list price $24.95,  ISBN 978-1561841707;  limited hardcover edition; deluxe hardcover edition.

Praise for the First Edition:

“Several recently-published biographies of Crowley do justice, for the most part, to his life and works. But their offerings now stand like skeletal frames of unfinished houses next to Kaczynski’s magnificently constructed edifice. Every brick is set in place with the mortar of meticulous research and insight. Thank you, Dr. Kaczynski. I’ve waited thirty-five years for this.”

—Lon Milo DuQuette, author of The Magick of Aleister Crowley

“Dr. Kaczynski brings two unique qualifications to this massive biography of the Prophet and Master of Magick, Aleister Crowley. One is his formal command of the rules of academic discipline. Dr. Kaczynski is a university professor who moves comfortably in the realms of research institutions and the masses of data contained therein, and who has internalized the rigors of classical intellectual pursuit. Dr. Kaczynski is also a practicing adept of the Thelemic magical system as taught by Aleister Crowley. Thus he is able to analyze and interpret many of Crowley’s insights and spiritual states from his own personal experience. This is a magnificent book and is highly recommended.”

—James Wasserman, author of The Militia of Heaven and Art and Symbols of the Occult.

“At long last, the world has a balanced and readable biography that reflects how magick shaped every facet of Aleister Crowley’s life. And Dr. Kaczynski doesn’t dismiss magick as humbug or mumbo-jumbo but validates it as a legitimate method of spiritual development meriting serious study.”

—Christopher S. Hyatt, PhD, author of Undoing Yourself

“Richard Kaczynski uses a novelist’s touch to make this exceptionally well-researched book read like an adventure story. For the serious student of Ceremonial magick or anyone curious about the truth behind all those weird stories, it’s essential reading.… Perdurabo is bound to become the definitive biography on Aleister Crowley.”

NewWitch magazine