ISSUE 22, July 2007
Quarterly Communication: Speech of the Grand Master : Address of the Pro Grand Master : Report of the Board of General Purposes
Historic: Architect to a King
Young Masons: Value of a warm welcome
Faith and Freemasonry: The twin supports
Supreme Grand Chapter: Speech of the Pro 1st Grand Principal and Report of the Committee of General Purposes
The Grand Secretary: Notes
   Travel: In the footsteps of the pharaohs
Inventor: Voice of the people
Human Rights Court Judgement: Landmark victory for Masons
International Conference: Masonic history unveiled
The Grand Chancellor: Special overseas role
Specialist Lodge: Prior Rahere and his legacy
Public Service: Serving the famous
Education: Events : Importance of the cable tow
Lbrary & Museum: Fraternal art
Masonic Charities: RMTGB : Grand Charity : RMBI : NMSF
Letters, Book reviews, Gardening

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The Secrets of Solomon’s Temple by Kevin Gest, Lewis Masonic, £16.99 hardcover. ISBN 0853182566
    This is a remarkable book, not least for the extensive architectural as well as historical and Masonic content on the only building mentioned in detail in the Bible, and which has never been found.
    But it sits at the heart of the Masonic story, and if anyone – Mason or not – is looking for a definite textbook on the subject, then Kevin Gest has certainly provided it in this impressive volume.
    Indeed, perhaps there is too much information in it, and this may deter some readers, but it can be read from almost any chapter, and with the author having spent 12 years in researching his book, there is plenty to feast the inquisitive mind.
    Such fascinating chapters as that entitled The Knights Templar legacy and a new Hiram Abif – a revered figure in Masonic ceremony – and The Secret of Solomon’s Seal, give an indication of some of the intriguing issues that Kevin Gest has explored in his researches. By mixing architecture, mathematics, fable, conjecture, Freemasonry and fact into this volume, the author has managed to keep the attention of the reader riveted.
    King Solomon remains one of the giant figures of the Bible, his temple a building of fascination to many, and this book is a bold attempt to put it into some context.

John Jackson


What do you feel made The First Day on the Somme such a success?
I believe it was because for the first time in British military history, the experiences of the ordinary soldiers of both sides formed the main subject of the book – all obtained by considerable expense and time that the formal historians do not have to expend.

You have written on a wide range of topics, which one fascinates you the most?
I have written 16 books on four aspects of conflict. The two main ones are the Western Front in 1914–1918 and the bombing war in 1939–1945. Smaller amounts of time were spent on the sea war of 1939–1945, Arnhem, and the Falklands War of 1982.
    Of outstanding interest to me of the above was the Western Front. I feel that what happened there and its aftereffects dominates the history of the 20th century, at least as far as the western world is concerned.

Do you have any advice for aspiring historians?
Read everything you can on the subject in which you intend to specialise. Decide what is useful and what is rubbish (there is a lot of it). Then research in prime sources and do not simply do the lazy library research that characterises so many ‘new’ books.

What is the story behind The North Midlands Territorials Go To War?
The North Midlands Territorials Go To War is the story of a local Territorial officer and his family, originally entitled Captain Staniland’s Journey, but Pen and Sword said they would publish it if I would expand the subject matter to conform to the new title. The ‘Journey’ was the unusual story of how his body was taken to be buried near that of his brother, who had been killed elsewhere a few weeks earlier. It all started by my asking a friend of my wife: ‘Jane, why is your house called Lindenhoek?’
    Lindenhoek was a crossroads where the lady’s father-in-law had met the transport carrying the body and then took it on to be buried. Captain Staniland was the commander of the Boston Company of the Lincolnshire Territorials. My uncle was one of his men. He died a few weeks later.
    I consider my serious writing career ended with Arnhem 1944, published in 1994. Your Country Needs You and the Staniland book were whimsical afterthoughts that did not require the extensive research and travelling which my wife had patiently endured for more than 30 years. (She married a potato merchant who became a poultry farmer who became a military historian who became a battlefield tour operator – usually with at least two activities overlapping.)

Who are your favourite authors?
I enjoy C. S. Forester, Thomas Keneally and Patrick O’Brian and any wellwritten personal memoir of a 1914– 1918 and 1939–1945 participant.

Which book are you currently reading?
The Road Past Mandalay – the personal experiences of the (later) author John Masters when he served as a British officer in the Indian Army in the Burma Campaign in the Second World War. I have a limited personal library of such personal memoir books and I usually read them all every ten years or so. I don’t read modern fiction, particularly war fiction.

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