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  • Hachette Books

Born with a Tail: The Devilish Life and Wicked Times of Anton Szandor LaVey, Founder of the Church of Satan

Doug Brod

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Biography: religious & spiritual, Satanism & demonology

A provocative biography of the iconic founder of the Church of Satan and author of The Satanic Bible, Anton Szandor LaVey, revealing an eccentric and scandalous life of showmanship, deception, celebrity fatalities, assassination attempts, and a furor of Satanic Panic across America.

When Anton Szandor LaVey-founder of the Church of Satan, author of The Satanic Bible, and media-savvy prankster and provocateur-burst onto the freak-flag-flying San Francisco scene in the mid-1960s, no one could've expected that he would one day become the poster fiend for all of the world's evil. And yet, in truth, LaVey's ironic, theatrical approach to Satanism differed drastically from the violent, devil-worshipping variety that helped give rise to the "Satanic Panic" of the 1980s. Dressed as a wicked, caped roue, LaVey was a charismatic, ankh-wearing, headline-and-skirt-chasing rake who took what he did seriously-but he was always in on the joke.

In BORN WITH A TAIL: The Devilish Life and Satanic Times of Anton Szandor LaVey, journalist Doug Brod combs through the facts and fictions of LaVey's extraordinary life, providing readers with not just a deeply reported biography of this notorious figure, but also a vivid cultural and social history of the outre movement he spawned. Before founding the Church of Satan in 1966, the Jewish-born, self-described "misfit" Howard Levey immersed himself in the "self"-centered philosophy of Ayn Rand, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Aleister Crowley, which inspired him to devise a non-religious, ultra libertarian "Church" where he could share his findings with likeminded thinkers. But LaVey's influence could be felt far beyond his flock, as his signature performative Satanism played a prominent role in the occult revival and outbreak of paranormal phenomena that dominated pop culture in the 1970s-a time of exorcisms, reincarnation, alien abductions, psychic surgery, and Ouija boards-and continues to be felt to this day across music, film, TV, and art. Alongside this exploration of his larger-than-life cultural significance, BORN WITH A TAIL also dives into LaVey's eccentric domestic life and scandals, including his rumored involvement in the car-crash deaths of Mansfield and her lover, as well as an attempted assassination of then-Sen. Ted Kennedy.

Epic in scope yet intimate in detail, BORN WITH A TAIL not only tells the definitive story of a classic, uniquely American huckster and his impact on the times-but also ultimately exposes a dark, secret history of America itself.

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