The Better Angels of Our Nature / by Michael A. Halleran

One of my regrets concerning the three visits I have made to Australia is my failure to present myself at a local lodge of Freemasons.  Having joined the fraternity myself about twenty years ago, it would be a real treat to enter a lodge in a different country and hear the variations on the ritual that I have heard so many times.  Of course I would recognize it, and my Australian brothers would recognize me, by the various grips, passwords, and signs that we all share in common.  This aspect of Freemasonry is explored in depth in this delightful book, The Better Angels of our Nature: Freemasonry in the Civil War.  This easily digested, and intensely researched narrative is an excellent read for Civil War buffs because it explores the role Freemasonry played during the conflict.  Instead of encouraging its members to commit acts of disloyalty to their respective sides, the fraternity left the interpretation of mercy, charity, and brotherhood up to individuals, often with surprising results.  I know lots of my Australian friends are interested in the American Civil War, and the brothers who live in your country who I have yet to meet will also enjoy this book.

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