Insiders call it ‘the Craft’.
To the rest of us, Freemasonry is mysterious and suspect. Yet its story is peopled by some of the most distinguished men of the last three centuries: Winston Churchill and Walt Disney; Wolfgang Mozart and Shaquille O’Neal; Benjamin Franklin and Buzz Aldrin; Rudyard Kipling and ‘Buffalo Bill’ Cody; Duke Ellington and the Duke of Wellington.
Founded in London in 1717 as a set of character-forming ideals and a way of binding men in fellowship, Freemasonry proved so addictive that within two decades it had spread across the globe.
Masonic influence became pervasive. Under George Washington, the Craft became a creed for the new American nation.
Masonic networks held the British empire together. Under Napoleon, the Craft became a tool of authoritarianism and then a cover for revolutionary conspiracy.
Both the Mormon Church and the Sicilian mafia owe their origins to Freemasonry.
The Masons were as feared as they were influential. In the eyes of the Catholic Church, Freemasonry has always been a den of devil-worshippers.
For Hitler, Mussolini and Franco the Lodges spread the diseases of pacifism, socialism and Jewish influence, so had to be crushed.
Professor Dickie’s The Craft is a surprising and enthralling exploration of a movement that not only helped to forge modern society, but still has substantial contemporary influence.
With 400,000 members in Britain, over a million in the USA, and around six million across the world, understanding the role of Freemasonry is as important now as it has ever been.
The Magpie Mason
‘New book provokes burst of positive press for Masonry in Britain’
From what I’ve read, this book is not a gushing laughingstock of rosy public relations, like some silly Dan Brown story.
Based on what I’ve seen, John Dickie speaks frankly, not untruthfully or unfairly, about our fraternity. I say that’s how one dispels ridiculous misconceptions in the minds of people who aren’t addicted to the flimsy fantasies promulgated by political and religious tyrants.
I don’t think this media coverage will convert anyone who loathes Freemasonry, and I doubt it will bring appreciable numbers of curious men to the Inner Door, but the truth has great value, especially these days when facts, logic, and reason are hunted for extinction.
About the Author
John Dickie is Professor of Italian Studies at University College London. He is an internationally recognised specialist on many aspects of Italian history and his books have been translated into more than twenty languages.
Acclaim for The Craft
THE TIMES BEST BOOKS OF 2020
‘This book shows that, despite rumours of demon dwarfs, piano-playing crocodiles and world domination, the real story of the Freemasons is one of male eccentricity.’
‘The Craft is a superb book that often reads like an adventure novel. It’s informative, fascinating and often very funny. The depth of research is awe-inspiring, but what really makes this book is the author’s visceral understanding of what constitutes a good story.’ – The Times Book of the Week
‘[John Dickie] takes on this sensational subject with a wry turn of phrase and the cool judgment of a fine historian… I enjoyed this book enormously. Dickie’s gaze is both wide and penetrating. He makes a persuasive case for masonry’s historic importance.’ – Dominic Sandbrook, Sunday Times
‘The Craft is a shadow history of modernity. Though more sober than most lodge meetings, it is, like its subject, ingenious and frequently bizarre… The Craft is well-crafted and sensible, making good use of English archives which have only recently been opened.’ – Spectator
History Extra Podcast
Listen to John Dickie talk about his book The Craft on the BBC World History Podcast site.
UGLE – United Grand Lodge of England
Listen to John Dickie talk about his book The Craft with an audence of 400+ Freemasons hosted on Brighttalk by UGLE – United Grand Lodge of England.
Books by John Dickie
EXHILARATING HISTORY, POWERED BY THE KIND OF MUSCULAR PROSE ONE ASSOCIATES WITH GREAT DETECTIVE FICTION”, The Financial Times
A Professor at UCL who is known for books that are both scholarly and page-turningly compelling.
Cosa Nostra. A History of the Sicilian Mafia, has sold over 800,000 copies since it was first published in 2004
Delizia! The Epic History of the Italians and their Food (2007) became 6-part series for Italian TV, written and presented by John. He was also the compère of the 2017 and 2018 Pasta World Championships in Milan.
John’s books have been translated into many languages. His latest is: THE CRAFT. HOW THE FREEMASONS MADE THE MODERN WORLD
Recent Articles: book reviews
Book Review - Managing The Future of Freemasonry
The golden years of Freemasonry have passed with the departure of a world never likely to return. We cannot pretend that our membership problem will simply go away. If we are to rescue our order, we must take an objective look at ourselves and understand the society we now face. By Dr David J West
Book Review - What Just Happened? By Hugh O'Neill
This series of booklets will attempt to describe in plain terms what was involved in conferring the three degree, a little of its historical and traditional basis, as well as the ideas presented to new members for their contemplation now and in the future. By Hugh O'Neill
Book Review - Dudley Wright: Writer, Truthseeker & Freemason
Dudley Wright (1868-1950) was an Englishman who took a universalist approach to the various great Truths of Life, he travelled though many religions in his life and wrote about them all, but was probably most at home with Islam.
Book Review - Learning Ritual - An Easy Process
This book presents a simple, effective, and time-proven approach to the memorization and performance of Masonic ritual. Learning Ritual: A Simple Process offers the reader a simple universal approach to any form of Masonic ritual whether it is Blue or Craft Lodge or that of a high degree.
Book Review - The Freemasons
The Freemasons - The History, Nature, Development and Secret of the Royal Art, was originally published in German under the title 'Die Friemaurer' and in 1930 was awarded the 'Peters-Baertsoen Prize' by the Grand Orient of Belgium.
Book Review - Anderson's Constitutions - 1723
This book contains a faithful reproduction of the first edition of the Constitutions of the Free-Masons, printed in London in 1723. The text, word spelling and paragraph size has been maintained, original restored decorations have been used, and font and character typesets have been carefully replicated.
Book Review - High Meridian
Ben Zion's awaited second book - This book contains a highly thought-provoking, or perhaps, more crucially a challenging narrative on the esoteric aspects of Freemasonry. There is no cautious conjecture, no frivolous ‘woo-woo’ approach, Zion dives straight in and makes us think…hard!
Book Review - Seven Habits of Highly Successful Lodges
Successful Lodges tend to share several common features. In this exciting new book, well-known author and speaker Tony Harvey draws on his extensive experience in different areas within Freemasonry to identify the key features most often seen in our strongest, happiest, and most attractive Lodges.
Book Review - Over 300 years of Masonic Ritual
This book celebrates the 300th anniversary of the founding of the Premier Grand Lodge in June 1717, by reviewing the basis of our workings from the earliest records to the formation of the United Grand Lodge of England in December 1813 and further.
Book Review - Freemasons: 555 Illustrations
Written by one of the highest Masonic dignitaries, this unique book reveals the secrets of Freemasonry in inspiring images and quotes.
Book Review - Chapter & Verse: 100 years of Royal Arch Talks
The publication of Chapter & Verse is in celebration of the centenary of Authors’ Chapter No. 3456; it takes the form of an anthology of some seventy-five talks presented in the Chapter. The spread of authors ensures divers interpretations of the Royal Arch narrative and dramatis personae.
Book Review - Inventing the Future
This book sets out those principles, considers the people involved and explores the framework within which their ideas were formed. And it discusses how the Constitutions evolved. - By Ric Berman
Book Review - The Freethinking Freemason
Tim Bryce's "The Freethinking Freemason" offers sage advice on how to run a Masonic Lodge, editorials on the future direction of the fraternity, and stories aimed at entertaining Masons.
Book Review - 21st Century Rosicrucianism
When the original Rosicrucian pamphlets were circulated in the early 1600s they sent a shockwave across Europe, instigating a surge of activity that changed the course of Western Esotericism.
Book Review - Widows Sons: Outlaw Bikers or Masonic Ambassadors
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Book Review - Freemasonry & the Enlightenment
This superbly illustrated study of Free masonry’s influence on Western culture, especially in the 18th and early19th centuries, has been recognised as one of the most original and important contributions towards a greater understanding of the Enlightenment published in recent times.
Book Review – Haunted Chambers: The Lives of Early Women Freemasons
These women aren't supposed to have existed. But they did. "Haunted Chambers", for the first time ever, presents not only the most complete list of early women Freemasons but also as much detail about their lives as can still be found. By Karen Kidd
Book Review - The Point Within the Circle
This is a very unusual book on Freemasonry. It takes the reader on a journey through some of the esoteric elements that are integral to Freemasonry's design. It shows how the Masonic temple itself is constructed in accordance with three ancient systems. By Matthew Ridgley Clark
Book Review – Robert's Rules of Order: Masonic Edition
New Updated Edition with section for online Masonic gatherings! - Experienced legislators, editors, civic leaders, business executives, and club officers all pronounce Robert's Rules of Order the best parliamentary guide in the English language.
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This book charts the transformational processes which combine in a peak between the end of the seventeenth and the start of the eighteenth century. By Fabio Venzi
Book Review - Some Masonic Musings
The papers in this volume cover fifty years of research and thought. They were often also produced to fill out programmes for Lodges of Research and there is a degree of repetition and overlap. by Aubrey N. Newman
Book Review - The Full Spectrum of Freemasonry
This book reflects the author’s research interests in Victorian Freemasonry, and the Orders beyond the Craft and provides a better understanding of how the other Masonic Orders have grown and developed in parallel with Craft Masonry by Richard Gan
Book Review - Famous Freemasons who Changed the World
There are 110 biographical entries in the book. Famous people where also Freemasons who changed the world by Kent Henderson
Book Review - The Siblys of London
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Book Review – We Three or Three Such as We
No review can begin to touch the sensitivity with which the people therein have been described, nor the extent of the layers and levels of their esoteric lodge experience, something that sadly few will ever achieve
Book Review - In The Steps Of The Templars
This comprehensive, authoritative, up to date history of the Masonic Knight Templar and Knights of Malta covers everything from the crusading Orders of Knighthood from which the modern Masonic Templar Orders
Book Review – The Freemasons Stopped in the Middle of the Ford
This book tries to approach Freemasonry from different sides; not so much to explain how he understands it as to encourage the reader to seek his own answers – on its methods, its organization, and its meaning. By Peter Bu
Book Review - Alternative Masonic Addresses For The Craft Degrees
Do you get asked to give an address at your lodge ? Are you looking for an alternative address ? Then take a look at this collection of alternative masonic addresses for the craft degrees prepared by Lewis Masonic
Book Review - A Path to Providence: The Creation of the Middle Chamber Program
Masonic Education has regrettably been reduced to teaching protocol, traditions, and catechism while ignoring the esoteric essence of the ritual. By Shaun Bradshaw (Author), Ben Wallace (Author), Flynn Ryan (Cover Art)
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In this work the author brings together a whole range of Masonic facts including the origins of our customs, our rituals and our practices, by Michael Lawrence
Book Review - Nobly Born: An Illustrated History of the Knights Templar
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Book Review - A Deserving Brother: George Washington and Freemasonry
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Book Review - Taken by Surprise
Never again will a Freemason be caught out by a last-minute request to make a response. - Taken by Surprise by Yasha Beresiner
book review - Whence Come You
The message of the book is essentially one of Freemasonry being unequivocally esoteric – spiritual – and that is something that many Masons may balk at but it is a topic that needs discussing rationally.
Book Review - The Other Brotherhood: When Freemasonry Crossed the English Channel
An excellent book, being perfect for Freemasons and non-Freemasons alike who want to explore the origins of Freemasonry and to examine how it influenced French thought in the eighteenth century
Book review - The Tracing Boards of the First Degree
The Tracing Board is a picture that encloses the quintessence of the ritual of the Degree and transmits it through symbols and images. By Enrico Marcia
Book Review - Becoming a Craftsman -The Masonic Tutor's Handbooks: Volume 3
Becoming a Craftsman -The Masonic Tutor's Handbooks: Volume 3 - The relationship between a Fellowcraft and their Master is how the traditional wisdom of our Craft is passed on.
Book Review - Freemasonry in London from 1785
This book is a well-researched study by a competent masonic scholar who has welded links from the changing scenes that arose in an era in which the most important step forward in organised Freemasonry was taken…
Book Review - Meditations of a Flawed Ashlar
Many readers will probably be familiar with Bill Hosler – he is a much-respected and veteran American Freemason and a regular contributor to the Midnight Freemasons blog.
Book Review - The Masonry of the «Moderns»: History and Rituality
The Masonic ritual world dates back to the 18th century, both from England and from France, which is still our most valuable reference.
Book Review - Three Stages of Initiatic Spirituality - Angel Millar
Angel Millar is a well-known lecturer on Freemasonry, initiation, and esotericism as well as an artist and student of the martial arts. The author of several books.
Book Review - The Rite of Seven Degrees
This book examines the deeply esoteric eighteenth-century Rite of Seven Degrees.
Book Review - The Green Book of the Elus Coens
The Green Book of the Élus Coëns is the most fascinating insight yet into the secrets and mysteries of the eighteenth century’s most esoteric of masonic societies – The Order of Knight-Mason Elect-Cohens of the Universe.
Book Review - Freemasonry for the Heart and Mind
Freemasonry for the Heart and Mind: A glance at Freemasonry during the Enlightenment and the American and French revolutions.
Book Review - The Masonic Pageant
The Masonic Pageant is published by Cornerstone Book Publishers and features a nice foreword by Chris Hodapp, 33°.
Book Review - Invisibles
It is reasonable to suggest that when published, Invisibles was the most comprehensive, comparative study, to date, of the Rosicrucian mega-meme.
Book Review - Mnemonic Methods
Within this book 'Mnemonic Methods by Robert Fludd', translator Paul Ferguson introduces us to the English translation of two of Fludd's short treatises on memory
Book Review - English Illuminati
This book gives us a deep look into the European occult revival of the late nineteenth century and some of its key figures…
Book Review - Emulation: A Ritual to Remember
How does one begin to review a masonic classic which has faithfully served generations? Perhaps starting with the title Emulation: A Ritual to Remember.
Book Review - The Rosslyn Hoax
Robert Cooper asks, would you like to know the truth about Rosslyn Chapel ?
Book Review - Mastering Masonic Ritual
Mastering Masonic Ritual is focused on preparing for a successful and fulfilling journey around the floor to the Chair.
Book Review - Companions of Christian Rosenkreutz
A review of Companions of Christian Rosenkreutz - Collected Papers 2008-2016
Book Review - Freemasonry: Material Moral and Mystical
A review of Freemasonry: Material, Moral, and Mystical by Tony Baker
Book Review - Three Distinct Knocks - John Meeks
"Why don't these new guys come back?" This is the question I often hear; and it is this same question that pushed me to write this book. - John Meek
Book Review - Soldier and Mason
Soldier and Mason: The Life of Charles Warren Napier-Clavering
Book Review - Bohemian Masonic Glass
A completely unique narrative publication mapping the phenomenon of glass production for the needs of Masonic lodges
Book Review - This Chequered Existence
Gerald Reilly reviews this new book covering the near-modern history of Freemasonry in England and Wales during the 20th-century.
Book Review - The EA, FC, MM Handbooks
Essential reading for every Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft, and Master Mason - these seminal books by J.S.M Ward are what every Mason needs!
Book Review - The Freemasons who won America's War for Independence
Find out who were the Freemasons who won America's War for Independence
Book Review - Black Freemasonry: From Prince Hall to the Giants of Jazz
A book review of Black Freemasonry: From Prince Hall to the Giants of Jazz by Cécile Révauger
Book Review - Cagliostro the Unknown Master
The book review of the Cagliostro the Unknown Master, by the Editor of the book
Book Review - Crime and the Craft
Crime and the Craft reveals that the Freemasons have been involved in treason, murder, conspiracy, fraud, and scandal from the time of the English Civil War to the 1980s.
Book Review - Focus on Ric Berman
Focus on Ric Berman a British historian who writes about the intersection of freemasonry, politics and society.
Book Review - The Temple That Never Sleeps
Freemasons and E-Masonry Toward a New Paradigm
Book Review - The Secret School of Wisdom
The Authentic Rituals and Doctrines of the Illuminati is a pioneering text
Book Review - Charles Warren: Royal Engineer in the Age of Empire
Sir Charles Warren, the Police Commissioner who failed to catch 'Jack the Ripper'
Book Review - Freemasonry and the Press in the Twentieth Century
During the latter part of the twentieth century, the Press and Freemasonry had a tense relationship.
Book Review - Who was Hiram Abiff?
Every Freemason must have at some point asked himself the above question.
The Masonic Book Club (MBC)
The new MBC will have a different business model than the old.
Book Review - Jesse James and the Lost Templar Treasure
Lost Templar Treasure: Secret Diaries, Coded Maps, and the Knights of the Golden Circle
Book Review - The Enigma of the Royal Arch
Holy Royal Arch What's it all about
Book Review - The Craft
Review of the new book The Craft by John Dickie, Professor of Italian Studies at University College London
Book Review - For Hills and Valleys
For Hills and Valleys, Mobile Schools and Republicanism in the Zêzere Valley By Aires Henriques
33 and Beyond: The Royal Art of Freemasonry
33 & Beyond: The Royal Art of Freemasonry, is perhaps the most fascinating and important documentary ever made on the on the subject matter of Freemasonry.
Book Review - History of Freemasonry in Bessarabia
Book review by guest reviewer Gheorghe Bichicean on the History of Freemasonry in Bessarabia by Alexandru Rufanda
Game Review - On The Square
A new board game based on The Freemasons
A MIGHTY GOOD MAN / THE TRUE STORY OF THE ROSICRUCIANS (double dvd)
A drama-documentary of the life of Elias Ashmole including a reconstruction of the first personally recorded Free Masonic Initiation into a Lodge anywhere in the world.
Prestonian Lecture 2020/21
This year's Prestonian Lecture - ‘A System of Morality – Aristotle and the Making of the Ritual’ - is authored, and presented by Professor G.R. Boys-Stones PAGDC.
The Lost Keys of Freemasonry
Introduction to The Lost Keys of Freemasonry by Manly P. Hall
Book Review - History of the Grand Orient of Italy
In depth book review in to the History of the Grand Orient of Italy by the author
Book Review – Freemasonry It's Hidden Meaning
Youtube Book review by Baruti KMT-Sisouvong
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