The Craft

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


‘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.

The Craft – buy online


Books by John Dickie


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



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