Historian and author Peter Levenda is the latest contender in the burgeoning market of Masonic histories. His new book (published in April 09) titled “The Secret Temple: Masons, Mysteries, and the Founding of America
Assembled as a linear chronology, what Levenda has culled together the key points of public perception of the Masonic fraternity and then questioned them as a non Mason would. His approach comes from a sociological stand point, interpreting the ideas as the general public would but with the research to develop and understanding of what those discoveries mean. Also, important to mention is that Levenda is not a Freemason, so his work is uncolored with the bias of being a member.
In the sociological exploration, Levenda covers the Masonic connections to the Knights Templar (real or imagined), the possible history rooted in Rosicrucian movement, the Masonic pre-history (pre-1717) going as far back as ancient Egyptian mystery traditions. Once he’s moved through the history, he brings his analysis to the modern day and the Masonic connection to the founding of the Mormons. But, even as he builds the arguments of these connections, he in turn debunks the obvious overt conspiratorial conclusions; rather he breaks the idea down to its connecting elements and analyzes how the theories could have been assembled. In some instances the analysis is good, in others it seems an unnecessary inclusion. One area that I didn’t like was the depth that Mormonism was studied, only to conclude that the Masonic root is a smaller piece to a broader occult origin, but perhaps to understand the small parts, you need to understand the whole.
What Levenda does in “The Secret Temple
The contrast to this work, perhaps, would be Jasper Ridley’s “The Freemasons
The book, “The Secret Temple: Masons, Mysteries, and the Founding of America