Author: Stephan Dafoe
I've never reviewed a book that I was still reading, but in this case I really want to spread the word. As I continue my Masonic "self education", I've always wanted to know more about the whole anti-Mason movement in general and the Morgan affair in particular. This book advances both of those personal objectives. It strikes me as an excellent starting point for research into anti-Masonry, and it's an excellent assembly of the facts surrounding the disappearance of William Morgan in 1826.
This book is very well written in the style of a novel. The writer is very talented and opted to avoid a "textbook" style that would have been more difficult to follow. It is also thoroughly documented and supported by records.
I particularly enjoy the collection of photos and artist renderings. The author provides four artist renderings of William Morgan and, rather than tell us which one is correct, provides a brief description of each and discussion of why each is or is not likely accurate. The author does point to the one he thinks is closest, but does not "certify" it as the "real" one. He allows the reader to evaluate the four renderings in the context of the whole story and allows us to come to our own conclusion. Also, the actual photographs of the various buildings and locations from the period add a lot to help the reader "be there" while reading the story.
I also enjoy another aspect of the book and that is the light it sheds on the workings of Freemasonry in the 1800's in the U.S. I think this aspect provides the Mason a valuable glimpse of Freemasonry they can relate to how we labor today. Royal Arch Masons may have a slight advantage when it comes to understanding the relationship and role of Royal Arch Masonry and the General Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons in the event.
Overall, a fascinating, highly informative book that is a very easy read. I would offer two recommendations: a reader should glance over the compilation of photos and artwork before starting to read; second, I recommend this to all Master Masons that are pursuing further light- especially regarding the role of Freemasonry in America. As painful as it may be, the anti-Mason movement is a part of the history of our nation and this story is useful in understanding this specific affair.
Review by Companion Bill Boyd