I have read a great many Masonic books over the years, but few as interesting, informative and well written as this one. Philippa Faulks and co-author Bob Cooper (Museum curator at the Grand Lodge of Scotland) have put together the amazing story of Count Cagliostro in an eminently readable style.
Part One deals with the life and times of Cagliostro, tracing his obscure formative years, his travels and notoriety across Europe, and his death at the hands of the Inquisition, in four sections: The Early Years; The Masonic Magician; The Final Years; and The Man, the Myths, the Legend.
Part Two, which is intensely fascinating, deals with the origins and history of Freemasonry, in three sections: The Philosopher Stonemasons; The Making of Masonic History; and A Legacy of Persecution.
Cooper and Faulks argue, quite persuasively, and backed by good evidence, that Freemasonry as we know it today is of Scottish origin, and that English (and other) Freemasonry came directly from Scotland—starting, in the speculative sense, with William Schaw.
They present compelling evidence that Anderson and Desaguliers, progenitors of English Masonry, both learned and gained the Craft from Scotland. The authors then trace direct links from Scotland to Europe.
In Part Three, the authors deal with Cagliostro’s Egyptian Freemasonry, which he tried hard to impress upon Europe, and even England. He had considerable success with the former, but his efforts largely died with him. This part is divided into three sections:
Egyptian Freemasonry;The Ritual of Egyptian Freemasonry; and finally A Commentary on Cagliostro’s Egyptian Ritual.
The ritual itself is published in full for the first time, a copy of the original (and probably the only surviving copy) having been preserved in the Library of the Grand Lodge of Scotland. It is absolutely fascinating reading, as is the commentary.
The book is profusely illustrated with many plates, extensive endnotes and appendixes, a large bibliography and glossary, and an excellent index. It is an absolute must-read for anyone interested in the history of Freemasonry.
Fellow and Assistant Secretary