Magick Life, by Martin Booth

Click to follow

Unlike Mick Jagger or Jimmy Page, you may not feel instinctively drawn to Aleister Crowley, aka the Great Beast 666, but this level-headed life is hugely entertaining. Born in the latter-day Gomorrah of Leamington Spa, Crowley was the scion of a brewing family. Later, he indulged in more recherché intoxicants ("All things were touched with beauty," he wrote after sniffing ether) and also pursued polymorphous sex, 57 varieties of wacky beliefs and mountaineering. Booth has great fun describing the adventures of Mr 666, including some unsavoury rituals in the Algerian desert. Crowley's later years were devoted to drugs and "scarlet women". Despite a diet of brandy, milk, biscuits and heroin, he lived to 72.