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Perfectibilists: The 18th Century Bavarian Order of the Illuminati Paperback – January 31, 2009

4.1 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Terry Melanson is the owner and developer of the popular online Illuminati Conspiracy Archive and has been writing about the Illuminati since 2000. He lives in Moncton, New Brunswick.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 531 pages
  • Publisher: Trine Day; F First Paperback Edition Used edition (January 31, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0977795381
  • ISBN-13: 978-0977795383
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #81,002 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Christopher L. Hodapp on April 1, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Possibly the most important English language work on the Bavarian Illuminati ever published to date. Based on documentation translated from French and German sources, Melanson keeps hysteria and paranoia to a minimum and provides an incredible reference work that outlines the history of the Order and its far-reaching cast of characters. Researched, footnoted and sourced in great detail, with documents never seen in English. Not the first book to pick up, as it assumes a certain amount of prior knowledge of the subject (see the Illuminati section of Vernon Stauffer's 'New England and the Bavarian Illuminati', which contains one of the best introductions on the Order to date), but VERY highly recommended to the serious scholar.

Only two reservations. First, the 'Skull & Bones' chapter seems to have flown in from another planet (or possibly a marketing department's request), and it stands out oddly. Second, Melanson makes no distinction between the different factions of Freemasonry that were expanding in continental Europe in the 1700s. Stauffer does a good job pointing out the differences in his book between the social club Anglo-Saxon Masons; the mystical Rosicrucian-style Masons who were attempting to make their brand more mysterious; and the Enlightenment social reformers of the Grand Orient of France who were involved in political movements. One style of Masonry was not the same as the next, and each had very different goals. But this is possibly a minor point and my own obsession.

I disagree strongly with Melanson's[...] website on a regular basis, and I think he and his fellow bloggers there seek boogeymen and a hyper-competent all-seeing, all-knowing criminal class of evildoers that control the world. But The Perfectibilists does not engage in the hysterics of that website. Melanson has produced a solid work of scholarship, and he is to be commended.
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Format: Paperback
I had been awaiting this book for some time and it was indeed worth the wait. Having being fascinated with the idea of "societies with secrets" and subversive movements for some time that begun with readings from the author's website that is chiefly concerned with the Bavarian Illuminati (not to be confused with the catch all term "Illuminati" in use in the present day to describe any super-elite group that is theorised to control the world in a monolithic conspiracy), the subversive organisation started by one Adam Weishaupt of Ingolstadt, Bavaria in order to install the rule of reason in place of the irrational and elitist dominion of the monarchy & religious institutes of the day. A product indeed of the Enlightenment, this group's hidden multiplicity of hands had the status quo in a tither as to what to do in order to counter Weishaupt's plan to eliminate the rule of kings (while having the genius to use some members of the aristocracy to this end) and institute a Rousseauian flavoured primitivist, egalitarian Utopia in it's place throughout Europe and the world. Well, at least on the surface of things.

As referenced in Melanson's book, Peggy Pawlowski in her doctoral thesis described the Bavarian Illuminati thus: "...the Illuminati can be thought of as the executive arm of the Aufklärung [the German Enlightenment]."

This does appear to be so. The intellectual might that was invested as members of the order is impressive. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe; Johann Pestalozzi, a pioneer of modern educational methods; the philosopher & theologian Johann Gottfried von Herder; philosopher Jacob Friedrich von Abel; amongst some of the most notable.
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I have studied the Illuminati for years through various conspiracy books and websites. There can be a lot of confusion and misconceptions about who they were and what they were trying to accomplish. If I only had this book years ago, my research would have been faster and more complete. The book is well sourced, giving follow up reading, websites as well as known members. This is probably the most in depth volume on the Illuminati that you can find without having to learn German. Hopefully this trend will continue, and the public will take more interest in the enlightenment societies that shaped our nation and western civilization for that matter.
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It is a mystery that so few academic historians have researched the Bavarian Illuminati and I should be grateful for this volume, nevertheless, it is very dissatisfying. Although you can get some sense of who the Illuminati were, and what their goals were, and what the structure of their organization was, it isn't until the end of the book that one can begin to make sense of the information. There is no indication that Mr. Melanson went to Europe and took time to research the primary sources. While each chapter has plenty of endnotes citing many secondary sources, one gets the sense that most of the ideas and information in this book come from Abbe Barruel's History of Jacobinism and a few other texts. The one chapter on the Illuminati on the years that they existed (1776 - 1787) is 25 pages long (not including endnotes) and if you take out all the illustration, it is about 20 pages of text and is written in the form of a time line. The remaining chapters focus on the other organizations: (Freemasons, Jacobins, Skull and Bones, the Fabians) and produces little info to prove there is a relationship between them and Adam Weishaupt's secret group. One gets the sense that the author is just filling space by taking quotes and ideas from one book and then stringing them together in a fashion that defies all forms of logic except chronology.

If the academic world wanted to present a history of the Illuminati, they would take someone like Mr. Melanson, give him the academic training, and send him to Europe for six months on a stipend and help him to produce a well researched and written history. For this reason, I give him two (not one) stars for his efforts, under the circumstances.
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