Who are the Illuminati?

A history of one of the world’s most feared societies and the extent of its reach

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How are the French Revolution, the murder of the Romanovs, the design of the dollar bill, and the Roswell UFO incident connected? Through one of the world’s most feared secret societies – the Illuminati.

References to it span centuries, yet evidence is scant. This book views the theories, examining how fears about it have grown.

At the height of the European Enlightenment, a professor in Bavaria founded a secret society of freethinkers, or “enlightened ones” – the Illuminati – to disseminate radical philosophies. Secrecy was crucial: neither church nor crown would tolerate it. At its height it numbered 2,500 and included leading thinkers. Yet, just 12 years later, disbanded by a government edict, the Illuminati ceased to exist.

Or did it? For nearly 250 years, references to its influence on world events have continued. Some claim it dates back to the time of the Pyramids. Others believe it is not of this planet but an alien culture. This book looks at the reality and the myths, exploring how fears about it have evolved, from fear of intellectuals during the Enlightenment to fear of communists during the McCarthy era.


  • An examination of the murky past of one of the world’s oldest secret organizations.
  • Hugely topical following publication of the novel Angels and Demons.
  • Fifth title in the Conspiracy series.
  • Author is a leading expert on conspiracy theories and secret societies.

Author biography

Lindsay Porter is a full time journalist and has contributed to a number of books. She is a contributor to Conspiracy Theories in America: An Encyclopedia, in which she writes on secret societies. She has a particular interest in French secret societies—including The Illuminati. She lives in Massachusetts, USA, and Manchester, UK.

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Lindsay Porter
Collins & Brown
Publication date
198mm × 129mm
256 pages
80,000 words
Rights sold
Australia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Greece, Poland, Romania, Russia, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States