Suggest some good books on Freemasonry?

My boyfriend just made master mason, and I can’t afford to get him the ring he has on hold (well, that and I’m not sure what I’d tell the jeweler to tell him), so I thought maybe I’d get him something really good on the book front.

I guess I’d take fiction or non-fiction, although I know he’s read The Man Who Would Be King. If there was a really good history that wasn’t all Time Life, that’d be good - rigorous but also good reading. I don’t want anything that purports to “tell secrets” or anything, I think he’d find that tacky. Plus, he’s supposed to know them already.

Also, nothing eye-rolling and Dan Brown-ish. We’re armchair historians and we don’t like crap.

Any ideas?

I’ve got nothing scholarly for you, but masons figure prominently in Alexandre Dumas’ novel “Joseph Balsamo”, a historical romance and first book in the “Memoirs of a medical doctor” series. The plot of Joseph Balsamo is intrigue at the court of Louis XV of France, where Joseph Balsamo aka Count of Cagliostro tries to manipulate powers at court from behind the scenes to discredit the monarchy and bring about a republic.

In the humorous vein, there’s Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco, which elegantly (IMHO) skewers overly credulous members of secret societies with occult beliefs. It is slightly “Dan Brown-ish” in tone though.

Then there’s always the Stonecutters episode of the Simpsons.

And the Architect sketch from Monty Python.

Upon reflection, sorry, I got nothin’.

Anything by Albert Gallatin Mackey is legitimate. See, for example,

I was gifted a leather bound “The History of Freemasonry” when I rose to Master.


Robert Anton Wilson’s Historical Illuminatus Chronicles. In 18th-Century Naples, young Sigismundo Celine goes through several Masonic initiation rituals; the meaning and purpose of each are interpreted.

Wikipedia says he was at the Grand Lodge here in South Carolina! Do you think the BF would like a 19th century edition of one of his books? (Is his “Manual of the Lodge” appropriate as a gift from a non-Mason? I mean, it can’t be too secret if you can buy it on Amazon, can it?)

Some of my favorites -
The Craft and Its Symbols by Allen Roberts. This was given to me by the Lodge when I was raised. Primarily for family members to learn a little about us.

The Temple and the Lodge by Baigent and Leigh. One (or both) of these fella’s sued old whatsisface Da Vinci Code author. Pretty much should be viewed as fiction, although they take themselves more seriously.

Born in Blood: The Lost Secrets of Freemasonry by John J. Robinson. Several steps above Temple and Lodge, IMHO. A lot of speculation, but not as sensational.

And, of course, Morals and Dogma by Albert Pike. Written in the rambling prose popular in the 19th century, yet a fascinating read nonetheless.

I second the Mackey recommendation. If he’s a scholarly type, and you can gather the required info, a membership in the Philalethes Society is pretty cool.

Bobo AF&AM, AASR(32)

How is A. E. Waite’s Encyclopedia of Freemasonry?

Also, THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING is also available on DVD!

Not recommended- the DVDs FROM HELL and MURDER BY DECREE.

I second Born in Blood.

I found it dry with a weak plot and little character development. :smiley:

Honestly, I thumbed through it a bit then stuck it on a shelf and I haven’t looked at it in years.

The book doesn’t really divulge any secrets but it is an interesting history, especially in that he is from SC as your BF is. I haven’t read his Manual of the Lodge, but I am inclined to believe that if he communicates secrets it is in such an esoteric manner that the non-member wouldn’t get the reference.