Darrin M McMahon at Literary Review:
The story of freemasonry is not all fraternal handshakes and matey slaps on the back, of course. Secrecy may be seductive, but it can also provoke wild speculation of a kind that didn’t end with the Portuguese Inquisition. Amid the violent upheavals of the French Revolution, the displaced Catholic priest Augustin Barruel could be heard denouncing revolutionary events as the consequence of a mischievous plot hatched by the brotherhood. Barruel provided little evidence for his claims, largely because there was none. But he did offer in his spectacularly successful book on the subject a template of supposed masonic machinations that has been recycled ever since. Dickie devotes some of his best chapters to this dark history of suspicion and persecution, with freemasons serving as scapegoats for Mussolini, Hitler and Franco, among many others. And today, freemasonry is banned everywhere in the Muslim world except Lebanon and Morocco.