As you can imagine from the title, this is not your standard genre book. It is not fiction but it is not a strict historical book either. Well, read the review and see what you make of it.
The Illuminati: The Counter Culture Revolution-From Secret Societies to Wikileaks and Anonymous by Robert Howells
This book demonstrates that the old secret societies were driven by the same impulse as Anonymous and WikiLeaks are today. These marginalized groups have always rebelled against the establishments; some subversively by spreading progressive ideas through art and literature, while others are far more proactive, driving revolution and exposing government secrets. The Illuminati, founded in 1776, aimed to rid Europe of the ruling aristocracy and religious control of education, politics and science. They supported the Age of Enlightenment and were accused of fueling the dissent that culminated in the French Revolution. Since that time the term Illuminati has become a meme, giving a name to a secret network believed by conspiracy theorists to control the world. These were depicted as pranksters, working in the shadows to manipulate society. It was in this climate of pranks, memes and conspiracy theories that the hacktivist collective Anonymous were born. Their ideals of freedom from censorship and the empowering of societies against their rulers make them the spiritual successors of the Illuminati. The kindling of the French Revolution by the Illuminati has found a modern counterpart in how Anonymous and WikiLeaks played a key role in the Arab Spring uprisings using the internet as a new weapon against dictatorships. It is the same battle fought by secret societies for a millennium but the new inquisition has shifted its focus from secret societies to wage a war on the connected communities of the internet age. This is the story of that war and how you need to be a part of it.
About the author:
I was born in London in 1968 and spent over twenty years investigating secret societies, counter culture and conspiracy theories. During this time I built up an extensive knowledge and experience of secret societies, symbolism and esoteric thought.
As a manager for five years of Watkins Books in London, one of the oldest esoteric bookshops in Europe, I extended my research into transpersonal psychology, sacred geometry, Gnosticism and alchemy. I also came into contact with a number of secret societies during this time including the Priory of Sion, Freemasons, the Order of Lazarus, various neo-Templar orders plus the Sufis and other religious groups.
My first book, Inside the Priory of Sion was released in 2011 and explored the heresies and mysteries surrounding Rennes-le-Chateau and the bloodline of Jesus. My second book, The Last Pope, was released in June 2013 and examines the idea of prophecy through the predictions of St Malachy.
My latest book: The Illuminati – The Counter-Culture Revolution from Secret Societies to WikiLeaks and Anonymous, explores the history of counter culture beginning with the heretics whose teachings informed secret societies including the Illuminati through to the actions of the WikiLeaks and Anonymous in their fight against state control and corruption.
You can find me on Facebook as Rob Howells.
You can also find the author’s blog here.
I obtained an ARC copy of this book through NetGalley and Watkins Publishing and I freely chose to review it.
I haven’t read any works of fiction related to the Illuminati but I came across them in my profession. I’m a psychiatrist and I’ve had several patients suffering from paranoid ideas that involved conspiracy theories and in more than one occasion they believed the Illuminati to be behind them. Although I read about them at the time, when I saw this book I felt curious and thought it would be a good chance to learn more.
The book isn’t exactly what I’d imagined. It does look at the history of the Illuminati movement — talking about its roots in the past and history, its relationship to religious and political movements and to big historical events (like the French Revolution) — and the latter part of the book links it to counter-revolution and counterculture up to the present time (with such phenomena as Anonymous, Wikileaks, digital piracy and hacking). This is not a critical account of the movement, as it is written by somebody with deep insider knowledge who appears to be a big believer and personally invested in the cause. I found the historical part interesting but also interspersed with plenty of detail about the process of indoctrination and their teachings, rather than individual facts. For me, it was more of a history of their ideas and philosophies rather than a detailed account of the movement and its people.
The modern part I found fascinating. Comparing many of the counter-cultural movements (beats, hippies, punk…) to the Illuminati, be it in their anti-institutionalised or anti-authority stances, or in their secret and anti-establishment nature (like hackers and Wikileaks) the author builds a strong argument for the continuity of the Illuminati’s philosophies in many of these groups and he makes a call for everybody to join in with their ideals of exposing corruption and removing the power from those who use it for personal benefit and don’t morally deserve it. Some of the arguments are very personal and down to the author’s interpretation, and as mentioned before, this is not a book that tries to expose both sides of the argument. I enjoyed the modern part and some of the comments and parallelisms it draws, although people who are strong believers in institutionalised religions might find it offensive, and some of its ideas can be too personal for others (his view of hackers and piracy might not be shared by many).
If readers are looking for an enthusiastic and eager discussion on the subject from somebody sympathetic to its tenets who expresses his opinion without hesitation, you will find it interesting, but it is not the book to read if one seeks a neutral or rigorously critical evaluation of the subject.
Thanks to NetGalley and to the publishers, thanks to all of you for reading and remember to like, share, comment and CLICK!