Secret Temple: Masons, Mysteries, and the Founding of America

Peter Levenda, Author Continuum $16.95 (221p) ISBN 978-0-8264-3000-7
With all the mystery surrounding the Freemasons, along with the recent vogue in secret societies (see The Da Vinci Code and its many followers), it's hard to see how historian Levenda (Unholy Alliance: A History of Nazi Involvement with the Occult) managed such a dry treatment. Though it's perfectly acceptable, even laudable, that Levenda seeks to dispel the mythic, romanticized construct of the Freemasons in favor of provable facts, he drains the magic from their history without answering any of his questions-most notably, ""Is it possible to understand Masonry without being a Mason?""-in a meaningful way. Without a narrative line, Levenda skips from tangent to tangent, producing what is more or less a catalogue of his unsynthesized research. Whole sections pass without any conclusions being reached, and while Levenda certainly isn't responsible for all the answers, readers will expect more than a complex set of historical data jazzed with occasional factoids and appearances from other secret societies like the Illuminati and Yale's Skull and Bones. Readers interested in the secrets of Freemasonry will be surely disappointed, and history buffs will grow quickly frustrated with Levenda's poor organization and sleepy prose.
Reviewed on: 03/30/2009
Release date: 04/01/2009
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