ISSUE 13, April 2005

The Campbells are coming: At speed!
Travel: Warming to Iceland
Royal Masonic Family: The Six Masonic Sons of George III, Part II
Quarterly Communication: Address of the Pro Grand Master and: Report of the Board of General Purposes
The flying eye hospital
Beamish Museum: The million pound project
  Wigan Grand Lodge: The Liverpool rebels
Chelsea Lodge: That's entertainment
Re-enactment: The way we were and: The Russian connection
Community Service: Weathering the storm
Faith and Freemasonry: God and the Craft
Education: Researching Freemasonry on the Internet and: Masonic events
Freemasons Hall: Masons at War
Grand Charity: Report and grant list and: Support for Asian tsunami
Masonic Charities: Reports from the Masonic charities
Obituaries, Letters, Book reviews, Gardening

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In Search of Myths and Heroes, by Michael Wood, BBC Books £18.99. ISBN – 0563521872

Where ancient history ends and ancient myth begins has been the source of intrigue all over the world for centuries. Legends have grown as the original story gets retold and passed down from generation to generation, producing a more mysterious and mystical tale only distantly linked to the historical facts.
    Wood is on a quest to find out why people are still so captivated by these myths and to trace their paths from when they began through into today’s world. He seeks to find historical links in real places and in living descendants of the ancient cultures that produced these stories.
    His book takes us on four adventures in pursuit of three heroes and one heroine, which are described as ‘a paradise myth, a tale of the hero’s quest, a myth of a woman of power, and a chivalric romance about a golden age.’
    We follow the famous myths of Shangri-La, Jason and the Golden Fleece, the Queen of Sheba and King Arthur and The Holy Grail.
    We are taken firstly to the Western Himalayas, exploring the truth of the legend of the hidden valley of Shangri-La – a lost paradise in Tibet, where time and history have been held back, peace prevails and the ancient wisdoms are preserved for future generations.
    The oldest myth, Jason and the Golden Fleece, is ultimately a tale of a sea voyage, a bid to explore beyond the edge of the known world. It follows the expedition of Jason and the Argonauts, who sailed from Greece across the Black Sea to find the Golden Fleece.
    Next he follows the legend of the Queen of Sheba, who is documented in the Jewish and Christian Bible, the Ethiopian Book of Kings and the Muslim Koran, and leads us on a long journey from Jerusalem to the Horn of Africa.
    Lastly, Wood visits the British Isles in search of the truth behind the legend of King Arthur, the Knights of the Round Table and the Holy Grail. From Hadrian’s Wall to Winchester and across to Ireland, he unravels the legend of King Arthur. Illustrated with excellent photographs, this book makes fascinating reading.

The Grand Slam: Bobby Jones, America and the Story of Golf by Mark Frost, published by Little Brown, £20. ISBN 0316726915

    In the wake of the 1929 stock market crash, an amateur golfer brought a ray of light to the world of sports. The Bobby Jones story is a remarkable one and Mark Frost’s engaging prose does justice to a man who stood like a colossus over the American sporting scene.
    He is the only individual to have been recognised with two ticker tape parades down Broadway’s Canyon of Heroes. Jones’ greatest achievement was winning the British Amateur Championship, the British Open, the US Open and the US Amateur Championship in 1930. A new phrase was born: The Grand Slam.
    This book is at its most interesting when delving into the man behind the trophies. Jones barely survived his sickly childhood and took up golf at the age of five for health reasons.
    Remarkably, the self-taught player made his US Amateur Championship debut at the age of 14. Modest and sensitive, he also had a legendary temper, which he slowly learned to control before harnessing his immense talent.
    Indeed, while the media referred to him as a ‘golfing machine’ the strain of competition exacted a ferocious toll on his physical and emotional well-being. During the season of the Slam, he constantly battled exhaustion, nearly lost his life twice and came perilously close to a total collapse.
    To the shock of a nation, he announced his retirement from the game at the age of 28. Golfing enthusiasts will no doubt enjoy the book, but because the story of the Grand Slam, by its very title, requires in-depth accounts of the multiple golf tournaments, those with a lesser interest in the game may struggle. Nevertheless, this is an excellent book of golf history.

The Living Unknown Soldier – A True Story of Grief and the Great War by Jean-Yves Le Naour, published by Heinemann, £15.99. ISBN 0434013196

    Extraordinary as it sounds, of the 1.5 million Frenchmen who died in the First World War, some 400,000 were categorised as ‘missing’ because their bodies could not be found. Such horrendous figures not only bear testament to the terrible potency of the weapons they faced, but to the trauma suffered by families back home.
    It is not surprising that many widows (there were 630,000 in France alone) lived in desperate hope that their ‘missing’ loved ones were perhaps POWs or hospital casualties in Germany. When the war ended their hopes were all too often dashed.
    This is the story of a soldier with no memory of his name or past, no identifying possessions, marks or documents. He was given the name Anthelme Mangin.
    When the authorities placed his image in advertisements, thousands of people claimed him as a son, husband or brother in a desperate bid to believe their loved one was still alive.
    Confusion mounted as hordes of people wanted to visit him in the Rodez asylum. Mangin’s cause became symptomatic of the post-war suffering and trauma faced by France’s public. The asylum director, Feynarou, had the disturbing task of facing Mangin’s claimants and evaluating their evidence.
    By the early 1930s, two contenders remained. One was Lucie Lemay, who was convinced that he was her missing husband Marcel, while the other was Pierre Manjoin, who claimed he was his son, Octave. Court case followed court case, fascinatingly recounted by Le Naour, up to the outset of the Second World War, by which time Manjoin, who it became clear was the right one, tragically died.
    Equally sad was that Mangin never left the asylum and died of starvation in 1942 in another forgotten scandal, in which mental defectives in asylums were deprived of food during the war in a covert euthanasia project.
    This book deserves reading not only due to Le Naour’s clarity and scholarship, but because in retelling the story of one man’s suffering, Mangin becomes the poignant symbol of the grief of a nation.

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