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Book Review: Secrets of the Widow’s Son by David Shugarts

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The philosophical foundations of the American Revolution&#8212and in fact, the high ideals of rationalism, science, separation of church and state, the wonders of nature&#8212were reflections of the foundations of Freemasonry.
&#8212Hunting for the Fundamental Themes, David Shugarts

Dan Brown’s fictional mystery, The Da Vinci Code (DVC), spawned a storm of controversy, examination, and imitation. The tale of a “symbologist” caught in a complex plot of conspiracy, codes, and religious mystery excited readers who had never encountered the concept of a female apostle, or the disturbing idea that Jesus had children, whose descendents might still be found today.

One of the “decoding” books that came out in the wake of DVC‘s storm was Secrets of the Code, edited by Dan Burstein. Secrets examined the real history, cryptography and symbology used by Brown in the novel. Burstein wrote the introduction to this book, Secrets of the Widow’s Son, to introduce David Shugarts, as much as his writing.

You see, Shugarts noticed a code in the cover text of DVC that indicated the theme of the next Dan Brown mystery: a string of letters that formed the question, “Is there no help for the Widow’s Son?” Based on this clue, Shugarts made a prediction for the sequel to DVC. It would, he thought, be based on the “conspiracy” of Freemasonry, perhaps including the Mormon/Mason connection, and probably based in Washington, DC. It would certainly involve one or more of the Founding Fathers.

A few weeks later, when Dan Brown made his announcement that DVC‘s sequel, The Solomon Key, would be set in DC and focus on Freemasonry, Shugarts’ guess was confirmed.

Secrets of the Widow’s Son is not a spoiler&#8212since Dan Brown writes fiction, Shugart can hardly predict plot twists and fictional characters. But he can, and does, explain the history and symbology that permeates the founding of the United States, and make clear the intricate connections of the Founders with Freemasonry.

If you read DVC with a perplexed sense of missing half the story, chances are good the clues were historical, religious, or mythological. What Widow’s Son promises is a legend for the map of history Dan Brown has indicated will be used in the sequel to his blockbuster. But even without the lure of The Solomon Key, this is an important book. In a time when religious symbols in public places are coming under increasing fire, it is important to understand how many public buildings in our nation’s capital are adorned (or even structured) with religious symbols.

Shugarts goes beyond a simple listing of names and symbols, to tie in the themes of previous Dan Brown novels with the probable theme of The Solomon Key. As he does so, we learn how many of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were Freemasons (9 of the 56 were known Masons), Presidents who have been Masons (starting with George Washington), the Mason’s plea that saved Paul Revere’s life on the night of the “Midnight Ride,” and the masonic connection between Benjamin Franklin and Voltaire.

He also examines other “conspiracies,” including the Illuminati (the real and the mythical orders), the Rosicrucians, fraternities like the Dekes and the Skull and Bones, the Boy Scouts… The Boy Scouts!?! Yes, one of the more surprising notions was the deep connection between scouting organizations and Freemasonry.

I admit here that I haven’t read The Da Vinci Code. I read Holy Blood, Holy Grail long ago. But I enjoyed every page of Secrets of the Widow’s Son. Armed with what I’ve learned, I’m ready for Brown’s sequel.

Bring on The Solomon Key.

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About DrPat

  • http://lagunasite.blogspot.com alpha

    Dr. Pat. I did read the The Da Vinci Code and it was fun but forgettable. These other conspiracy theories and symbological books seem as if they will also be fun or even enlightening.

    Let us hope that entertaining religious stories do not again cause the firestorm of Vatican vacillation and religious worries as did The Da Vinci Code .

    But we will also hope that no death threats follow Salmon Rusdie. Religion in league with fiction only causes a mess.

    The non-fiction descriptions of symbology and secret organizations sound like much more information and fun.

    Besides,I was a Cub Scout and never trusted the Boy Scouts. They were too much like Hitler Youth.

  • http://paperfrigate.blogspot.com DrPat

    As I was reading Secrets of the Widow’s Son, I kept flashing on the Baroque Cycle novels of Neil Stephenson — I hadn’t realized (because Stephenson didn’t mention it) that the original Gresham’s College club that became the Royal Society was (probably) a Masonic Lodge…

  • http://www.angelsdemonsmasons.com Hidden Treasures Productions

    You might take issue with Dan Brown’s novels, but they do bring to our attention some interesting influences in Western society. The Freemasons, for example, have played a role in the founding of this country. This role was more civic than conspiratorial, less exciting but perhaps equally interesting.

    If you liked Dan Burstein’s Secrets of Angels and Demons or even if you didn’t get a chance to read it, keep your heads up for Secrets of Angels, Demons and Masons, scheduled for release in a few weeks time.

    Check out this link or this one (to order)

  • http://paperfrigate.blogspot.com DrPat

    Thanks for the tip, folks — I’ve added the pre-release Amazon tag to my review.

    This is a DVD, by the way, not a book (for those who are interested.)

  • ajd

    DrPat – This is a fascinating book that comes in both book and DVD. Shugarts has done an amazing job of decoding Dan Brown’s modus operandi.

  • http://www.randymays.com Randy Mays

    I just started reading “Secrets of the Widow’s Son.” In the part where Shugarts is talking about mistakes, he makes a large mistake by referring to a “clip” in a pistol. The correct term is “magazine.” I found that distracting.

  • http://jacobprimo.blogspot.com Jake

    I too see a possible Mormon/Mason connection. I’ve posted the full text of the speech Is There No Help For The Widows Son?