Professor John Dickie's riveting new history of Freemasonry - an organization as mysterious as it is influential.
Cecil Rhodes and Shaquille O'Neal; Mozart and Peter Sellers; Duke Ellington and the Duke of Wellington; Benjamin Franklin and Rudyard Kipling. These Masons, and many others, people the pages of The Craft, but even more compelling is the overarching narrative of Freemasonry itself. As a set of character-forming ideals, and a way of binding men in fellowship, it proved so addictive that within a few decades of its foundation in London in 1717 it had spread as far as India, Australia, South Africa, the Americas and the Caribbean.
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. The Mormons borrowed their rituals from the Craft. The Sicilian mafia stole the Masonic organizational model.
Amid all this strange diversity, Masonry's core rituals and values have remained unchanged, inspiring both loyalty and suspicion. In the eyes of the Catholic Church, Freemasonry has always been a secret den of atheists and devil-worshippers: all Masons have been excommunicated since 1738. 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 an 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.
Critical acclaim for Costra Nostra - -
Dogged...a brave work. This is the first history of the Sicilian Mafia to be written by a non-Italian. It gives John Dickie a neccesary detachment, frosty and undeceived. - Mail on Sunday
I couldn't put it down. His archival sleuthing is yoked to his powerful , often coruscating story-telling to create a sinister, horrific reality. - John Guy, The Sunday Times
The first truly definitive English-language study of this myth-laden subject, and it is a pleasure to read...his book is notable for shrewd judgements couched in language that is vibrantly memorable. His acquaintance with the island and his immersion in the wider modern Italian culture allows him to convey the noxious atmosphere of corruption with flair. - The Sunday Times
A serious contribution to modern Italian history...it can be safely predicted that John Dickie's book will be a sensation, not least because it has a dozen potential movies in it. - Clive James, Times Literary Supplement
John Dickie is Professor of Italian Studies at University College London and an internationally recognised expert on many aspects of Italian history. In 2005 he was awarded the title Commendatore dell'Ordine della Stella della Solidarieta Italiana. He is the author of five books, including DELIZIA! which won the special commendation Andre Simon Food and Drink Book Awards, and in France was voted food book of the year in RTL/Lire magazine's prestigious poll. COSA NOSTRA, his history of the Sicilian mafia, has been translated into twenty-one languages, has sold over 750,000 copies, and won the Crime Writers' Association Award for Non-Fiction.