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. Numerous members of the royal milieu of Europe at the time such as Karl, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel was an important member, through him the Rothschild dynasty truly begun, and Ernest II, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg also was an Illuminatus, direct through him emanated the British Royal line of modern times.
There is a dearth of decent scholarly works on the Bavarian Illuminati in the present day, especially considering the primary and secondary sources available to the willing seeker now (mostly in German it seems) so the information mined by the author from various texts in different languages is translated to English and makes its first appearance in that tongue. There is much brand new material here for the English speaking world.
My only real gripe with the book is that the interior design is a bit busy at times with the placement of relevant photos and diagrams, but the content therein more than makes up for this minor issue. There are a wealth of footnotes and references here for the amateur researcher, as well as the more serious scholar, to enrich their knowledge of this truly fascinating order whose design and vision for a globalized Utopia devoid of nation states, whose doctrinal influence may indeed be shown in the writings of Marx & Engels, who also perhaps pioneered the form of the subversive revolutionary cell and thought as we know it, and thus the Bavarian Illuminati, while not existing today as a monolithic cabal that controls the world, seems to have had a hand in helping to shape the political, educational, philosophical, and intellectual landscape of the modern world.
This is not a book about "conspiracy theory". Its a book of genuine history and constitutes conspiracy fact. Its worth a read.