“The Freemasons are a subject of endless fascination. To the layman, they are a mysterious brotherhood of profound if uncertain influence, a secret society purported, in some popular histories, to have its roots in the fabled order of the Knights Templar or in the mysteries of the Egyptian pyramids. They evoke fears of world domination by a select few who enjoy privileged access to wealth and the levers of power. The secrecy of their rites suggests the taint of sacrilege, and their hidden loyalties are sometimes accused of undermining the workings of justice and the integrity of nations, In shining a light on a society cloaked in mystery, [this book] provides balance, fluid writing, meticulous research, and a thoughtful perspective. But one of the pleasures of this book not to be overlooked is that it also comprises a compendium of notable Freemasons throughout the centuries, a Who’s Who of prominent politicians and other leaders, writers, businessmen, thinkers and artists. Jasper Ridley concludes his illuminating and immensely readable survey with a chapter on Freemasonry in America today and an answer to the question, Are the Freemasons a menace?”–Back cover.