cover image The Freemasons in America: Inside the Secret Society

The Freemasons in America: Inside the Secret Society

H. Paul Jeffers. Citadel Press, $22.95 (221pp) ISBN 978-0-8065-2784-0

Jeffers' follow-up to his 2005 historical overview Freemasons takes a look at famous Masons in America, a list that includes 14 presidents, from Washington to Ford, as well as Benjamin Franklin, Davy Crockett and Neil Armstrong. Instead of exploring the influence that the secret society may have had on men like these, however, Jeffers contents himself to recording Mason-related historical anecdotes. The most interesting take place during the Civil War, such as the story of a dying Confederate Mason assisted by a Union brother at Gettysburg after ""exhibiting the Masonic sign of distress."" Despite the alluring subtitle, however, there is very little here that goes ""inside"" the society: no secrets are revealed, though Jeffers does briefly explore the possible influence of the society on the men who drafted the Consitution, designed U.S. currency and laid out Washington, D.C. Although Jeffers avows that he is not a Mason, an undercurrent of tacit approval for the Society further betrays the promise of the title. Though it may appeal to Freemasons and their supporters, it may be off-putting to the general reader that Jeffers doesn't offer a more reasoned, skeptical or revealing take.