For the next esoteric organisation to read about its history, I thought to have a look at AMORC (or rather: Ancient and Mystical Order Rosae Crucis) I looked around a bit and this book seemed to be just that: a history of AMORC. It is and it is not entirely.
The book was originally written in French, but was translated to English. I figure that this was a good idea, since AMORC started as an American organisation and my guess is that it is still biggest in the USA. The author does indeed provide a history of this Rosicrucian organisation, but he decided to place it in the course of Western esotericism.
The book counts 242 pages. The first half is about Western esotericism in general and after a while about the original Rosicrucian movement in particular. This history is certainly not bad, but I did not read much that I did not already know. Egypt, Hermetism, even Guénon is mentioned. Of course when we come closer to our own time the book mentions Medieval and Renaissance magic, alchemy and after a while the Rosicrucian manifestoes. These manifestoes are dealt with a bit too much in detail, retelling the contents, etc. After some information about philosophers with Rosicrucian interests and Rosicrucian elements in (early) Freemasonry, the author quite extensively speaks about magnetism, hypnosis, spiritualism and “Egyptosophy”.
Initially I wondered why these ‘esoterically less appealing’ movements get so much attention, but when Henry Spencer Lewis enters the stage, things become clear. Lewis, the founder of AMORC, was quite active in spiritualistic movements in his younger years. He made quite a name with investigations and articles that he wrote. After describing a few contemporary Rosicrucian movements, Rebisse tells the story of how Lewis sought contact with Masonic Rosicrucians in France and how he eventually was initiated and given the task to wait for a bit before restoring Rosicrucianism in the USA. This chapter certainly is the highlight of the book. The author describes the events relatively objectivally and tried to corroborate events that he describes.