Who was Count Cagliostro? He sounds like someone from one of those 1970s late-night talk shows. You know, the ones who come out wearing a turban. Actually, the Count Cagliostro of The Last Alchemist fame has been called a everything from a great healer to a dangerous charlatan. The internationally-acclaimed historian Iain McCalman painstakingly documents how Cagliostro crossed paths—and sometimes even swords—with such luminaries as Catherine the Great, Marie Antoinette, and Pope Pius VI. He was William Blake’s muse and inspired both Goethe to write Faust and Mozart to compose "The Magic Flute." King Louis XVI had him chucked into the infamous Bastille for his supposed involvement in what was referred to in hushed tones as “the affair of the necklace.” Yet in London, Warsaw, and St. Petersburg, he established “healing clinics” for the most destitute of the destitute, and his accomplishments in the worlds of alchemy and spiritualism won him accolades among the nobility from one end of Europe to the other.
History buffs will delight in the name-dropping in this book. It seems that the good Count meet all the best people of his time. Whether he swindled them if left for you to decide.
The Last Alchemist is a charming book about a poor boy that makes good. It is a pleasant read and would be enjoyed by anyone who roots for the underdog.