"The Brotherhood" by Stephen Knight: A Review
This book gives details of Mr Knight's investigation into the secret society of the Freemasons. As he points out, he uses the term "secret society" to describe a society which keeps internal details secret, and not as a description of a society whose existence is secret.
Naturally, there is a need to guard against too much reliance on the evidence of embittered outsiders, who have personal prejudices about the Freemasons, often unfounded. Mr Knight shows an acute awareness of this problem, and is extremely critical of information volunteered by outsiders, taking care to explain, in detail, why their arguments are false, and where their facts are in error. The function of this book, therefore, is to destroy some of the popular myths about Freemasons, as well as revealing the truth about the society.
Mr Knight's most difficult task is in analysing the charge of corruption than is often made against the Freemasons, i.e. that Freemasonry fosters deceit, conspiracy and other immoral or illegal practices.
The book reveals that the Freemason's policy of secrecy can be used as a cloak for concealing criminal activities, as happened in Italy; also, the policy of masons being obliged, to help fellow masons "in times of distress" can lead to lawbreaking or come very close to infringing the law. However, it seems from his analysis that although Freemasonry appears to be especially vulnerable to misuse, this does not mean that it deliberately fosters or encourages such activities.
The book is not exceptionally well-written; nevertheless, it is intelligently researched and interesting.
André Maurois knew the problem - Maurois was a quotable French author of the early 20th century. One quote of his that came very much to mind on a couple of occassions last week is (in...
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