Freemasonry has long been one of the most mysterious societies within the whole of Western civilization with its long and secrecy shrouded history. The target of speculation, romanticism, fear mongering, and awe alike, it is little wonder that many individuals are curious about this ancient and storied brotherhood. One of many books written on the subject, The Secrets of the Freemasons, pulled together by one Pat Morgan, is an interesting and informative guide to the basics of Freemasonry. It is, in large part, a good choice for beginners who have little to no knowledge about what freemasonry is. The title of the book lures in readers with promises of mysterious secrets, and leaves the same persistent reader with a better understanding of an old, fascinating, and often misunderstood organization. The back cover promises its audience intimate knowledge of “secret handshakes – what they are, why the exist, and their meanings,” in addition to the secrecy shrouded initiation rituals, some choice trivia on celebrity Freemasons, and a guide to various rituals and ceremonies that are generally closed to the public. For the most part, the book delivers on its promise, and in addition, does a fair job of debunking various myths, conspiracy theories, and rumors surrounding the organization.
Pat Morgan keeps the tone of the book light, informative, and straight to the point. As a result, for the most part, the book makes a fun read. It does a fine job of answering some of the biggest questions about Freemasonry – for instance, the general history of the brotherhood, the meanings of various signs and symbols, and even a list of who is or is not a Freemason, particularly in the United States. In addition, the book covers Freemasonry’s connections with Shriners as well as Scottish Rite, and the author is extremely careful to keep readers informed on separation myth from fact. And finally, for those who truly liked what they learned about the Freemasonic lodges, Pat Morgan includes some basic information on how one goes about becoming a brother and joining a lodge, and what the expectations of one of these newly minted members are.
One of the few drawbacks of the book is that it is rather short. While this can be seen as a positive point as well, some readers craving more detailed or specific knowledge about the Freemasons as an organization may be disappointed at how certain bits of information are merely skimmed over rather than covered in great detail. Some readers may feel a little bit cheated, feeling that some aspects of the Freemasonic culture have been glossed over or not expounded upon to their satisfaction. That said, the author presents the facts of Freemasonry in a very straightforward and informative manner. Therefore, for a reader that doesn’t have a great deal of time on his or her hands – or simply isn’t the sort to want to lug around giant, intimidating 500-page volumes – The Secrets of the Freemasons is a short and sweet guide to the culture of Freemasonry. Since the book is only 196 pages long, it should be a relatively quick read for most of its target audience.
For those seeking a long, meticulously researched, and very much in-depth treatise on the history and facts of Freemasonry, they may be better off finding a longer book on the subject. However, for readers who know little to nothing about Freemasonry, and are simply seeking the opportunity to skim to surface of the topic so that they may feel better informed on it, The Secrets of the Freemasons is the perfect choice. Short, compact, informative, and immensely readable, Pat Morgan’s book makes an excellent bedside read for the curious seeker of Freemasonry-related facts.