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Indispensable research work,
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This review is from: Perfectibilists: The 18th Century Bavarian Order of the Illuminati (Paperback)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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Initial post: May 26, 2010 1:46:32 PM PDT
Do you have another book in mind that discusses more thoroughly the factions of Freemasonry, their histories and aims?
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