‘a superb book that reads like an adventure novel. It’s informative, fascinating and often very funny. Dickie recounts the history of freemasonry by breaking it down into beautifully written stories rooted in places crucial to the organisation. The depth of research is awe-inspiring, but what really makes this book is the author’s visceral understanding of what constitutes a good story’
The Times (London)
John Dickie ‘takes on this sensational subject with a wry turn of phrase and the cool judgment of a fine historian. … I enjoyed this book enormously. Dickie’s gaze is both wide and penetrating. He makes a persuasive case for masonry’s historic importance.’
Dominic Sandbrook, Sunday Times
Who are the Freemasons and why do they incite murderous hatred, fanatical devotion and occasional ridicule? Why on earth would a bestselling 1886 French tract warn: ‘French mothers! Lock up your daughters! Here come the Freemasons!’ John Dickie answers such questions and many more. … Convincingly researched and thoroughly entertaining…. Dickie is admirably even-handed in his treatment of the secret society that so many love to hate.
The Wall Street Journal
The Craft is a shadow history of modernity. Though more sober than most lodge meetings, it is, like its subject, ingenious and frequently bizarre… The Craft is well-crafted and sensible, making good use of English archives which have only recently been opened.
This book shows that, despite rumours of demon dwarfs, piano-playing crocodiles, and world domination, the real story of the Freemasons is one of four centuries of male eccentricity.
The Times makes The Craft one of its books of 2020
A fascinating tale … well-researched. … Mr Dickie has turned legend into history.
Dickie’s book acts as a soothing balm for these irritated, irritating and irritable times … startling … distinctly refreshing .. astonishing… Dickie laces his text with enough bizarre characters to pull the reader through, and his no-nonsense tone is a tonic.
Sweeping, synthetic, finely crafted and freshly conceived… Dickie offers rich chapters on the appeal of the brotherhood in various parts of the British Empire, India above all, and its astonishing popularity in the United States. He devotes some of his best chapters to a dark history of suspicion and persecution.
Darrin M McMahon, The Literary Review
Entertaining … Ranging widely through time and space, Dickie assembles a large cast of characters, some well known like Benjamin Franklin and Rudyard Kipling, others more obscure, who contributed to the spread of Freemasonry across the globe.
Ruth Scurr, Times Literary Supplement.
Eye-opening … an epic, continent-spanning story that reaches right into the present.
History Revealed magazine
The Craft offers the reader a highly readable survey of Freemasonry from its origins in Scotland to its expression across the globe; its manifold rites, degrees, and personalities – quite an achievement!
Easy to read, often entertaining, and knowledgeable.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (Germany)
Impressive… Enormously well-researched, extremely pleasant to read, and, above all, perfectly balanced. … Calm, cool, factual and yet grippingly told.
Wiener Zeitung (Austria)
Fascinating, … Dickie relates the Freemasons’ history with the infectious pleasure of an excellent storyteller and a pleasant mixture of sympathy and scientific distance.
VPRO Gids (Netherlands)
Dickie’s book is indeed an enlightening read – not least where it measures legend against reality and exposes conspiracy theories.
An instructive and lively history of Freemasonry that illuminates all the dark corners. … After five years of research this is no small achievement by the London historian. He strides through several centuries of world history and vividly, pointedly and enlighteningly portrays many characters, some of them picturesque.
Der Standard (Austria)
At great pace and with the appropriate mocking distance, Dickie sums up all of the ‘secrets’ of the brotherhood.
Neue Zürcher Zeitung (Switzerland)
A fluent, detailed and vividly written history of the Freemasons.
Südwestrundfunk SWR2 (Germany)
John Dickie shows how Freemasonry has left its mark almost everywhere, even on the moon.
A pleasingly dispassionate and yet exciting book.
Jürgen Streich, Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger (Germany)
An exciting read—not praise for Freemasonry. John Dickie is not a Freemason himself, but a historian who has dealt with the Mafia, for example. So it’s a very factual and sometimes ironic book. As I said: I really enjoyed reading it.
Peter Meisenberg interviewed on WDR 3 Gutenbergs Welt (Germany)
Filled with facts and historical connections, the author pulls out all the stops of his writing talent, which has already made his previous works bestsellers.
Dickie works through history and contexts with the accuracy of a historian and knows how to convey this in an stimulating and fascinating way. … The book is exciting and gives an interesting insight into Freemasonry worldwide. Some of the passages will be uncomfortable for some brothers because they also name the formation of legends and the dark side of Freemasonry.
Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of Germany
The design of the book deserves a special mention. The cover with the filigree Freemason symbolism and the splendid colour images on the inside leave just as beautiful an impression as the author’s attitude to the subject. This makes the work a perfect gift for anyone interested.
Composed, illuminating, and absolutely worth reading.