The Independent Magazine for Freemasons
By: David West and Matthew West
‘You know about King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, and quite possibly about Athelstan and Prince Edwin, but do you know how the prince is connected with industrial relations? Or what the queen has to do with air freight? What do you know about the Assyrians? How about the tale of David the Bandit or how bad Jezebel really was? Do you have any idea when the first temple was built or how historically accurate Exodus is? Did you know that there are 300 lodges and 30,000 masons in Cuba? Have you ever heard of Jose Marti’, Bernardo O’Higgins, or the great Belgrano (the man not the ship)? Have you ever wondered why Rudyard Kipling so rarely attended lodge and who on earth was Hobbehod?’
So reads the back cover copy of this fascinating and intricately researched book and you will find the answers to all those questions within. David and Matthew West inject a sense of adventure into each chapter; all of which are richly illustrated and meticulously referenced. The first chapter delves into the convoluted history of Robin Hood and whilst not a Masonic legend itself, the tales surrounding the character(s) – and attributes of – those who may have been Robin, demonstrate how legends develop and grow throughout history. The authors end this chapter with the statement that ‘Legends are commonly a matter of wish-fulfilment. Nevertheless they play an important role in our lives, inspiring, comforting and empowering us.’
These wise words are vitally important, especially when researching, documenting and perpetuating stories and legends from history both ancient and modern – we must be mindful not to embellish or distort or let our ‘wishes’ turn history into fairy tales yet not remove the essential magic that binds us to them. The authors have skilfully mastered that art here; they carefully unpick the rich tapestries of legends and stories from around the world, examining the threads and giving us the facts in an engaging and conversational tone, whilst still retaining an academic approach to research and references. A superb read and one that offers answers to questions we may never have even thought of. And you do indeed get to find out who Hobbehod was.
My only criticism is that the rather simplistic cover does not reflect the scope and depth of the content – this is definitely one case where you should not judge a book by its cover!
Review: Philippa Lee
Hamilton House Publishing Ltd (2017)
237 Pages, illustrated