The Better Angels of Our Nature

  • by Michael A. Halleran
  • Narrated by Jack Chekijian
  • 5 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The first in-depth study of the Freemasons during the Civil War
One of the enduring yet little-examined themes in Civil War lore is the widespread belief that on the field of battle and afterward, members of Masonic lodges would give aid and comfort to wounded or captured enemy Masons, often at great personal sacrifice and danger. This work is a deeply researched examination of the recorded, practical effects of Freemasonry among Civil War participants on both sides.
From first-person accounts culled from regimental histories, diaries, and letters, Michael A. Halleran has constructed an overview of 19th-century American freemasonry in general and Masonry in the armies of both North and South in particular, and provided telling examples of how Masonic brotherhood worked in practice. Halleran details the response of the fraternity to the crisis of secession and war, and examines acts of assistance to enemies on the battlefield and in POW camps.
The author examines carefully the major Masonic stories from the Civil War, in particular the myth that Confederate Lewis A. Armistead made the Masonic sign of distress as he lay dying at the high-water mark of Pickett's charge at Gettysburg.


What the Critics Say

"A valuable contribution to both Civil War history and the history of the Masonic lodge. Recommended." (CHOICE)
"[A] strong affirmation of the bond between warring Masonic brethren, in the war that brought more of them together on opposing sides than any in our history." (Christopher L. Hodapp, Editor, Journal of the Masonic Society)
"Michael Halleran has set a new, high standard for scholarship on Freemasonry in the Civil War. His stories are compelling, the research is impeccable, and his analysis gives fresh insights on the 'mystic tie' of the fraternity." (S. Brent Morris, Ph.D., Managing Editor, Scottish Rite Journal)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Excellent Masonic and Civil War History

The introduction to this story begins with an attack on New Years Day in 1863 by Confederate General John B. Magruder on federal forces occupying Galveston, Texas. The USS Harriet Lane was commanded by Jonathan Mayhew Wainwright II who was killed and the next day the masonic lodge in Galveston, Harmony Lodge No.6 buried him after learning from a few Union prisoners that Wainwright was a mason. The book states that this is a well-known story in many masonic circles.

“The Better Angels of Our Nature” is probably my favorite University Press audiobook. I love all things mason and grew up in a masonic family. I know many of the things in this book to be true. Helping your fellow brethren, charity is the greatest virtue to a mason. The Masonic Creed is Faith, Hope, and Charity.

This audiobook discusses the origins of freemasonry. It’s the oldest fraternal organization in the world dating back to 16th c. Edinburgh and to the Age of Enlightenment and I feel probably even older than that. Women are also masons in the Order of the Eastern Star.
I found it to be really neat how the masons helped one another during the Civil War. It’s just amazing listening to the strength of the Brotherhood even to this day. For history lovers or Civil War buffs, this is a great listen.

About the narrator: JackChekijian did an OUTSTANDING job narrating this audiobook. It was professional, clean, and had great flow and consistency from beginning to end. He is just a wonderful asset to the works from University Press Audio. Really great job!

Audiobook gifted in exchange for review.
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- Teresa


Any additional comments?

The book is well researched, with full citations and footnotes. It is a very interesting book which should be of interest to anyone researching Freemasonry. I enjoyed listening to the audiobook

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- zoe

Book Details

  • Release Date: 03-08-2012
  • Publisher: University Press Audiobooks