The Freemasons: A History of the World's Most Powerful Secret Society

Front Cover
Skyhorse Publishing Inc., 2011 - History - 357 pages
18 Reviews
What did Mozart and Bach, Oscar Wilde and Anthony Trollope, George Washington and Frederick the Great, Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt have in common? They were all freemasons. The Freemasons are a subject of endless fascination. To the layman, they are a mysterious brotherhood of profound if uncertain influence, a secret society purported, in some popular histories, to have its roots in the fabled order of the Knights Templar or in the mysteries of the Egyptian pyramids. They evoke fears of world domination by a select few who enjoy privileged access to wealth and the levers of power. The secrecy of their rites suggests the taint of sacrilege, and their hidden loyalties are sometimes accused of undermining the workings of justice and the integrity of nations. In this much-needed reassessment, Jasper Ridley offers a substantial work of history that sifts the truth from the myth as it traces Freemasonry from its origins to the present day. Ridley recounts the development of Freemasonry from the guilds of freestone masons, the master builders of the Middle Ages, into societies of gentlemen masons and speculative masons in the seventeenth century, culminating in the formation of the Grand Lodge in London in 1717. Delineating the spread of the brotherhood to Europe, the New World, and the East, he weighs the role Freemasonry is supposed to have played in the American Revolution (some of our Founding Fathers were masons, among them George Washington and Benjamin Franklin) as well as those in France, South America, and later Russia. Ridley puts into proper perspective the contributions of the Craft to civilization over the centuries. Not a mason himself, he nonetheless refutes many of the outrageous allegations made against Freemasonry, while at the same time acknowledging the masons? shortcomings: their clannishness, misogyny, obsession with secrecy, and devotion to arcane ritual. In shining a light on a society cloaked in mystery, The Freemasonsprovides balance, fluid writing, meticulous research, and a thoughtful perspective. But one of the pleasures of this book not to be overlooked is that it also comprises a compendium of notable Freemasons throughout the centuries, a Who?s Who of prominent politicians and other leaders, writers, businessmen, thinkers, and artists. Jasper Ridley concludes his illuminating and immensely readable survey with a chapter on Freemasonry in America today and an answer to the question, Are the Freemasons a menace?
  

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Review: The Freemasons: A History of the World's Most Powerful Secret Society

User Review  - Andra Constantin - Goodreads

A walk through the history and the influence the Freemason might or might not have had in the most important events that shaped our era. Do not expect to find an explanation about how the Freemasons ... Read full review

Review: The Freemasons: A History of the World's Most Powerful Secret Society

User Review  - Stefan - Goodreads

I was looking for something like this for many years. I'm really glad that a reputable and unbiased historian has written a book on Freemasonry free from all the misconceptions and conspiracy theories ... Read full review

Contents

Acknowledgements
Introduction
CHAPTER 1
CHAPTER 2
CHAPTER 3
CHAPTER 4
CHAPTER 5
CHAPTER 6
Chapter 2 The Heretics
Chapter 3 The Seventeenth Century
Chapter 4 Grand Lodge
Chapter 5 The Popes Bull
Chapter 6 Germany and France
Wilkes and Liberty
Chapter 8 Troubles and Scandals
Chapter 9 The American Revolution

CHAPTER 7
CHAPTER 8
CHAPTER 9
CHAPTER 10
CHAPTER 11
CHAPTER 12
CHAPTER 13
CHAPTER 14
CHAPTER 15
CHAPTER 16
CHAPTER 17
CHAPTER 18
CHAPTER 19
CHAPTER 20
CHAPTER 21
CHAPTER 22
Notes and References
Chapter 10 The Magic Flute
Chapter 11 The French Revolution
Chapter 12 Loyalist and Revolutionary Freemasons
Chapter 13 Napoleon
Chapter 14 The Restoration
Chapter 15 The Case of William Morgan
Chapter 16 The Lautaro Lodge
Chapter 17 The Nineteenth Century
Chapter 18 The New Assault on Freemasonry
Chapter 19 Freemasonry in the World
Chapter 20 Modern Freemasonry in Britain
Chapter 21 Modern Freemasonry in the United States
Chapter 22 Are the Freemasons a Menace?
Bibliography
Index
Copyright

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About the author (2011)

Jasper Ridley's many works include Napoleon III; Eugenie, Garibaldi, and Mussolini; and The Freemasons. He lives and works in London, England.

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