The Last Alchemist
Count Cagliostro, Master of Magic in the Age of Reason
Freemason ... Shaman ... Prophet ... Seducer ... Swindler ... Thief ... Heretic
Who was the mysterious Count Cagliostro?
Depending on whom you ask, he was either a great healer or a dangerous charlatan. Internationally acclaimed historian Iain McCalman documents how Cagliostro crossed paths -- and often swords -- with the likes of Catherine the Great, Marie Antoinette, and Pope Pius VI. He was a muse to William Blake and the inspiration for both Mozart's Magic Flute and Goethe's Faust. Louis XVI had him thrown into the Bastille for his alleged involvement in what would come to be known as "the affair of the necklace." Yet in London, Warsaw, and St. Petersburg, he established "healing clinics" for the poorest of the poor, and his dexterity in the worlds of alchemy and spiritualism won him acclaim among the nobility across Europe.
Also the leader of an exotic brand of Freemasonry, Count Cagliostro was indisputably one of the most influential and notorious figures of the latter eighteenth century, overcoming poverty and an ignoble birth to become the darling -- and bane -- of upper-crust Europe.
- HarperCollins, October 2009
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