Secrets of the Tomb
Skull and Bones, The Ivy League and the Hidden Pat
Alexandra Robbins

Little, Brown and Company
September 2002
Hardcover/240 pages
ISBN: 0316720917
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…flings open the door of the infamous secret society.

…are the ?Bonesmen? truly nefarious?

…the troubling questions remain.

If you’ve ever wanted to observe the adolescent male mindset of the nineteenth century at the beginning of the twenty-first, look no further than to the sacred traditions of Skull and Bones. In Secrets of the Tomb, journalist Alexandra Robbins flings open the crypt door of the infamous secret society. Her book provides a fascinating glimpse into these Yale seniors who have met faithfully for the past 170 years over lobster dinners and cigars in order to plot supposed world domination.



The rumors in New Haven fly thick and fast, but are the “Bonesmen” truly nefarious? Or is it that they’ve fantacized about their cloak-and-dagger secrecy to such a degree that outsiders can see nothing but dangerous conspiracies in what are, in reality, the egocentric actions of a handful of privileged misogynists? Robbins gives the plain, unvarnished facts and lets the reader decide. Her research shows that Yale itself is seeped in such a pervasive tide of tradition and conservatism that the creation of Skull and Bones was inevitable. Yale’s other secret societies have abandoned most of their sophomoric antics over the years and today use some of their wealth and connections to benefit the community at large, while the Bonesmen continue to hoard their riches. They demonstrate the outmoded, self-aggrandizing tendencies of the Tomb’s denizens. This narcissistic behavior reveals nothing as malevolent as a desire to overthrow the current world order.

Many powerful office holders, including US presidents William Howard Taft, George Bush, and George W. Bush, were once Yalies tapped for Skull and Bones membership. So is it any wonder that the public is concerned about the true character of a Bonesman? Can anyone who at the tender age of twenty-one dedicates himself to keeping a bevy of secrets and perpetuating a “good old boy” network ever grow into an honest, impartial person? Robbins may have pried the secrets out of the Tomb, but, unfortunately, the troubling questions remain.

Reviewer: Cindy Appel