American Freemasons: Three Centuries of Building Communities

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Author: Mark A. Tabbert

Brand: New York University Press


  • Used Book in Good Condition

Binding: Hardcover

Number Of Pages: 262

Publisher: NYU Press

Release Date: 15-06-2005

Details: Product description With over four million members worldwide, and two million in the U.S., Freemasonry is the largest fraternal organization in the world. Published in conjunction with the National Heritage Museum, this extravagantly illustrated volume offers an overview of Freemasonry’s origins in seventeenth-century Scotland and England before exploring its evolving role in American history, from the Revolution through the labor and civil rights movements, and into the twenty-first century. American Freemasons explores some of the causes for the rise and fall of membership in the fraternity and why it has attracted men in such large numbers for centuries. American Freemasons is the perfect introduction to understanding a society that, while shrouded in mystery, has played an integral role in the lives and communities of millions of Americans. Copublished with the National Heritage Museum From Publishers Weekly This slender history begs the question: who is really qualified to write about secret societies? Tabbert, a Master Mason, doubts the "ability" of non-Mason historians to "fully understand the craft" since they "have not actually witnessed the rituals performed" within the society. His personal investment, however, makes his volume sound so defensive at times, even emotive, that his lavishly illustrated history of U.S. Masonry-from its Revolutionary origins to its currently moribund dotage-reads more like an apology for, or a love letter to, the society than a work of measured, scholarly rigor. The opening chapter recounts, in compelling detail, Masonry's European germination in the hotbed of the Enlightenment. But the second chapter initiates Tabbert's book-long habit of overstating Masonry's centrality to U.S. history-and its virtue. For example, while the "quarrelsome man" who threatened to publicly expose Masonic rituals in 1826 is vilified as a "restless, jack-of-all trades drifter," the faceless criminals who kidnapped and killed him (severely tarnishing Freemasonry's reputation in America) are given the author's reprieve: "What actually happened remains a mystery, but most likely he was killed by his abductors either accidentally or in a fit of passion." The book makes a strong case for the Masons' outward missions of civility, charity and community-building. Also notable is its attention to the Prince Hall Order of African-Americans. Yet can the institution's 40-year decline in membership really be blamed on such "social earthquakes" as television, shopping malls, "teenage drug use and pregnancy"? Maybe the lodge is an "anachronism," as Tabbert says, but his claim that Masons "are almost completely incapable of entering into a conspiracy (except to do good) or keeping a secret (except in hiding private acts of kindness)" appears disingenuous nonetheless. Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Review “Tabbert, curator of the National Heritage Museum and master of a Masonic lodge in Massachusetts, writes from the inside out, offering an interesting overview of the history of Freemasonry and its attributes.”-Choice, Recommended “This beautifully-illustrated book is the best introduction to the Masonic past now available for brothers and for curious outsiders.”-Steven C. Bullock,author of Revolutionary Brotherhood: Freemasonry and the Transformation of the American Social Order, 1730–1840 “Visually, this is an attractive book: large format, profusely illustrated, just on the right side of coffee-table-ish.”- “The real history of Freemasonry is arguably more interesting than all the tales woven about it.”-U.S. News & World Report “From colonial times to the present, Masons have always been central to community life in America. Mark Tabbert tells their story in a fresh and arresting way. . . . This informative and visually delightful book introduces us to a vital aspect of our nation's civic history.”-Theda Skocpol,Harvard University About the Author Mark A. Tabbert is Director of Collections at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial in Alexandria, Virginia and the former Curator of Masonic and Fraternal Collections at the National Heritage Museum in Lexington, Massachusetts. His work has appeared in The Northern Light, Heredom, and American Studies.

Package Dimensions: 10.1 x 8.3 x 1.1 inches

Languages: English

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