Four books about Mormonism redux

Some years ago I toyed with the idea of there being a hypothetical individual which was interested in understanding Mormonism beyond the modern devotional aspects of the faith. I wondered what four books I would recommend and then posted the list. When I revisit the same question today, I’m quite torn and my list is quite different:

Nathan O. Hatch, The Democratization of American Christianity (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1989).
I recently came back to this volume while preparing a manuscript and it really is great. Hatch gets a few things wrong about Mormonism; however, these errors are quite small and are greatly overshadowed by the massive contribution this volume offers to understanding the context in which Joseph Smith worked out the Restoration. Very readable and covers a wonderfully rich period. Priestcraft, Thomsonian medicine, anti-creedalism, vernacularism, and more!

Leonard J. Arrington and Davis Bitton, The Mormon Experience: A History of the Latter-day Saints, 2nd ed. (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1992).
This one volume history of Mormonism is a short and smooth trip through the founding of the Church to the Modern era. As such, it misses a boatload, but I think readers of all stripes will come away with an excellent view of Mormonism’s development. A nice compliment would probably be Richard Bushman’s Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling, the now definitive biography of the foundational prophet.

Thomas Alexander, Mormonism in Transition: A History of the Latter-Day Saints, 1890-1930 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1986).
This is one volume that I have kept from my previous list. It isn’t perfect, but it does what no other single volume does. The four decades spanning 1890-1930 really are a dramatic shift for the Church. While dry, Alexander chronicles important shifts in Mormon liturgy, belief and practice. A nice targeted compliment might be Kathleen Flake’s The Politics of American Religious Identity: The Seating of Senator Reed Smoot, Mormon Apostle.

Edward L. Kimball, Lengthen Your Stride: The Presidency of Spencer W. Kimball [Manuscript version on the CD which accompanies the book] (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2005).
Last time around I went for Prince’s McKay biography. It was a hard call this time around, but I think that with Kimball’s tenure being more proximate, that perhaps many of the details will resonate more with the reader. The manuscript version that accompanies the volume is also the must-read. It not only includes the annotations, but much of what the editors were uncomfortable publishing.

I think this list of four has a lot of weaknesses. Reading a diary of an early Mormon has a great impact on our perceptions of these people and their lived religion – perhaps the diaries of Patty Sessions, Helen Mar Kimball Whitney or Charles Ora Card would be a good place to start. It can be slow going, but it is definitely worth it. Two things that get somewhat short-shrifted are Women and Mormon cosmology. Women of Covenant: The Story of Relief Society, really is a great starting place for the Relief Society. I tend to recommend Andrew Ehat’s thesis for temple stuff.

So, what four books would you recommend this time around?

Comments

  1. Personally, I would switch out Arrington for Bushman.

    I think that an objective view of the founding years, especially of a character as polarizing as Joseph Smith, is what people are interested in (to the hypothetical individual wanting to understand some of the “why’s” rather than the devotional aspects)

    As far as Edward Kimball’s book vs. Gregory Prince’s book…that’s a tough call. I own both, and I really would put both of those in the top-10 list (perhaps even top 6). I found that Kimball’s book seemed to be more objective than Prince. Especially in the area of figures such as Harold B. Lee, Joseph F. Smith, and Bruce R. McConkie, it seemed as though Prince made out to villanize these characters, whereas Kimball tried to focus more on Pres. Kimball. At least that was the impression I got when I read it…

  2. Steve Evans says:

    Challenging list, J.! I would have gone with Prince and Arrington from your two lists. What’s “devotional,” btw? Are you excluding books that talk about theology? Your choices are all historical. What about some classic Nibley, say “Approaching Zion?” What about a good Bennion or England compilation?

    If we’re talking history, I’d have to round out the four with Rough Stone Rolling and the Mormon Hierarchy books (cheating, I know).

    If you want to teach what Mormons actually believe, then none of these books are great.

  3. What’s “devotional,” btw? Are you excluding books that talk about theology?

    That’s a great question, and highlights my biases. By modern devotional, I meant what one would typically get from attending sacrament, Sunday School and Priesthood. I typically view theology as history, but that isn’t particularly common, so it is just another weakness of the list.

    brandt, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Prince villainizes those people.

  4. Kevin Barney says:

    If we’re talking about a hypothetical person who wants to understand Mormonism, my guess is that the person is going to need some more basic introduction before diving too deeply. I might suggest:

    1. Mormonism for Dummies

    2. Mormon Experience

    3. Rex Lee, What Mormons Believe

    4. RSR

    The first three are broad, introductory texts, and then RSR by focusing on JS starts to get you into the nitty gritty.

  5. Ah, Mormonism for Dummies! A great addition…plus I heart Jana.

  6. I think it all depends on targeted audience. For example, if I were to recommend books to someone who is fairly knowledgeable of Mormon history yet only conversant scholarly books, I think these four books are most important:

    1. RSR
    2. By the Hand of Mormon
    3. The Mormon Question
    4. Politics of American Religious Identity

    However, if I were to recommend books to someone who has not read any “real” history books, then the list would look much different (it would probably be similar to yours, J, except for perhaps Hatch).

    I also think McMurrin’s Theological Foundations should get attention.

  7. I like Schmidt, Hearing Things quite a lot as context for early Mormonism.
    Juster, Doomsayers, also gets you good contextual info.
    I agree on Hatch.
    I agree RSR is a good intro.
    For an ultra-brief intro, I still like Remini’s Penguin Lives volume.

  8. And thus we see further proof that smb’s interest in Mormonism stops in 1844 (sorry, could resist). Looks like Ben’s interest ends in 1918 (grin).

  9. Well, you’d definitely want _Women and Authority_ to be on the list somewhere.

  10. heh.

  11. J: Guilty as charged ;)

    However, I have thoroughly enjoyed Prince and Kimball.

  12. hey, staples, it picks back up in 1998.

  13. Odd. Mostly the books recommended are ones most Mormons(?) have never read. The books most read by Mormons (BoM, AoF, etc.), are not recommenced, to be used for understanding Mormonism. (?)

  14. Bob, did you happen to read the first paragraph of the post or comment #3?

  15. Steve Evans says:

    Hatch is really that great? I confess it had never struck me as a must-read until now…

  16. Bob,

    Do you really think that reading the Book of Mormon would give an outsider an accurate understanding of Mormons and Mormonism?

  17. Eric Russell says:

    “I tend to recommend Andrew Ehat’s thesis for temple stuff.”

    On sale now at your local Mormon books black market.

  18. #14: Yes, I read them. I know of few books that talk about Mormonism. There are many on the History of the Church, many on what it like to be a Mormon. and your list for those is fine for those things.(I have not read Hatch).

  19. The Hatch book is excellent; it laps any volume of specifically Mormon history I’ve ever read, probably several times.

    I have to say that the definitive version of this list will eventually have to get around to pairing Fawn Brodie and Richard Bushman. The strengths and weaknesses are complimentary. Brodie offers the incisive treatment of Smith’s personality and interpersonal interactions that Bushman shies away from.

  20. Steve Evans says:

    Sold!

  21. Hatch is really that great? I confess it had never struck me as a must-read until now…

    It was written 20 years ago, and is still required reading for any graduate course in U.S. History. It is that good and it is that important.

  22. Hatch isn’t perfect, but it’s pretty darn good.

  23. Randy B. says:

    I just recently picked up Hatch, based on a recommendation over at JI. I haven’t had a chance to dig into it yet, but it has just moved up several slots in reading priority.

    As for my top four, I like —

    1. RSR/Brodie (I’m with JNS here)

    2. The Mormon Experience (still the best single volume on the broader history)
    3. Quinn’s Hierarchy books

    4. Prince’s McKay biography

  24. Aaron Brown says:

    As with Steve, it never occurred to me to think of Hatch’s work as a must-read. Good to know.

    There are different ways to interpret Stapley’s initial question. I choose to interpret it this way:

    What four non-devotional books would I recommend to an LDS reader who is not at all familiar with Mormon Studies, and who I don’t want to run the risk of boring by inundating them with too much dense prose (Bushman, Quinn) or material that is perhaps too inaccessible (Ostler)?

    I’d probably pick:

    1. Barlow’s Mormons and the Bible
    2. Mauss’ Angel and the Beehive
    3. McMurrin’s Theological Foundations
    4. Given’s By the Hand of Mormon

    I don’t include any biographies, but if I were to do so, Prince’s David O. McKay would be on the list. (I haven’t read the Kimball bio yet). Based on how I’ve framed the question, Arrington’s Mormon Experience is obviously out. Women and Authority wouldn’t make my list.

    AB

  25. Randy B. says:

    And while I love these sorts of debates, I’d really love to see people’s top 40 lists rather than their top 4.

    While it is seriously out of date, Todd Compton has a great list on his website.

    http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Oracle/7207/#dibm

  26. Hatch is great, particularly because of his attention to worship and lived religion. It should be noted, though, that it’s a one-sided approach to American Christianity; the Episcopalians, the Presbyterians and other higher church groups are ignored (which works for the period Hatch is dealing with, but we should keep in mind that by the postbellum period, the Episcopalians are who everyone else wants to be – respectable and respected). It’s also perhaps the first work of the new evangelical historiography, which emphasizes the ways in which American religion was changed by American culture (rather than the older – and still, I think, potent – vice versa argument), and should be understood in that context.

    I really like Hearing Things (I’ve got a half done review up it lurking in the bowels of Mormon Mentality), but it’s too narrow, I think, to be a useful introductory volume.

    I second Angel and the Beehive. Essential for twentieth century Mormonism, from my perspective.

    Alexander would also be on my list, because of its breadth, though it’s not as analytically strong as it could be.

  27. A couple more: Shipps. She’s probably who I’m going to draw on the most for my undergrads next year.

    Laurence Moore’s interpretation in Religious Outsiders may not be as useful as Hatch’s, but there’s still definitely something to it.

  28. Most of these suggestions assume some basic familiarity with Mormonism which I think is a lot rarer than we who are immersed in it realize. I think a basic introductory overview is essential. Mormonism for Dummies is a good choice. Also Oxford has just released its book on Mormonism by Richard Bushman in its Very Short Introduction series:

    http://www.oup.com/us/catalog/general/subject/ReligionTheology/American/?view=usa&ci=9780195310306

    Richard’s Very Short Introduction is shorter even than the Dummies book and one of the most comprehensive yet concise overviews of the faith I have ever read.

  29. Researcher says:

    Please, J. Stapley, could you give a closer definition of H.I. (hypothetical individual)?

    Most of the people I know would [unfortunately] run screaming from a book called The Democratization of American Christianity, or, for that matter, any book with a title punctuated with a colon.

    Are you assuming a college or graduate level section on Mormonism?

  30. TA Esplin says:

    Assuming returned missionary level background knowledge and college level reading ability, I’d recommend:

    1. Leonard Arrington, Great Basin Kingdom
    2. James E. Talmage, Vitality of Mormonism
    3. Leonard Arrington, American Moses
    4. Joseph Smith (edited by B.H. Roberts), History of the Church (vol. 1 if I only can pick one)

    I know I’m a little obsessed with Arrington. I also know I’m skirting the edge of “modern devotional” literature with #4, but it includes plenty that I never learned from Sunday School.

  31. For “understanding Mormonism beyond the modern devotional aspects of the faith,” I think Bushman’s new Mormonism: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2008) is by far the best single volume treatment for understanding Mormonism from an academic perspective. It’s clear and concise – perhaps too concise for the liking of many, but most who are not Mormon history buffs are not going to want to jump into a 600 page tome on a narrow subject. I was thoroughly impressed with this volume, mostly because it was profoundly simple and comprehensive, yet perfect for a college course.

    Of course, I don’t think any of the books mentioned so far will give a full understanding of what makes the average Mormon click. As much as some will roll their eyes at the suggestion, I really do think a book like Our Search for Happiness would give someone a better understanding in this respect. However, I read the original post as referring to books outside of this genre (“modern devotional aspects of the faith”), so with that disclaimer, all the books mentioned in the original post and the comments above make more sense, especially if the audience is more academically oriented.

    Thus, for the purposes of this post, my top 4 would be:

    1. Bushman, Mormonism: A Very Short Introduction
    2. Arrington & Bitton, The Mormon Experience
    3. Shipps, Mormonism: The Story of a New Religious Tradition
    4. Bushman, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling

    I’m glad to see Compton’s In Sacred Loneliness was taken off the list. While it would give a better understanding of the polygamous wives of Joseph Smith and some correllary issues, I don’t see it as a book for gaining a foundational understanding of Mormonism. Too narrow of a topic. For the same reason, I wouldn’t choose many other books listed above, as good as they are. I’m thinking: If this person reads no other book(s) on Mormonism, what will give them the best understanding of the faith from a scholarly perspective?

  32. #13:
    The books most read by Mormons (BoM, AoF, etc.), are not recommenced, to be used for understanding Mormonism. (?)

    If I understand the original post correctly, J. Stapley is considering an academic audience, rather than a “potential convert” audience. Using the LDS scriptures as your “four books” to understanding Mormonism is actually pretty problematic, from an academic standpoint, because without context, those books could give some very mistaken ideas about the LDS faith.

    For example, a careful academic reader would see Jacob’s denunciation of non-commanded plural marriage for what it is. That same careful academic reader would then learn from D&C 132 that Mormon men are allowed to take up to ten “virgins” as wives. Our academic reader would then reach the Manifesto, and after taking that document into consideration, would conclude from his or her collective readings that Mormon men are allowed to take up to ten virgins as wives, wherever they are permitted to do so by civil law.

    As another example, our careful academic reader examines the “Word of Wisdom,” as found in the D&C. Again, lacking further context, the reader would conclude that Mormons can drink beer (“mild” drinks” from barley, etc.), use tobacco as an agricultural healing agent, and at least seriously discourage eating meat during three seasons of the year (with an exemption for famine).

    You and I both know these would be an entirely false conclusions, but they are precisely the conclusions that an academic reader would reach, if the LDS standard works were his or her chosen “four books” on the subject. That reader would miss huge amounts of context, history and interpretation, resulting in some very huge mistakes and misunderstandings.

  33. Researcher, I tend to be a bit more optomistic about our hypothetical individual. TA Esplin’s characterization of a returned missionary reading-level is about right, I think.

    I have heard good things about Bushman’s Very Short Introduction. I need to check that out.

  34. I agree with Matt that I would place Alexander on my list. The book isn’t perfect, but it’s strong and it’s really all we have of substance for that period. Hatch is good, and I have found it helpful to have students read him in tandem with Butler’s _Awash in a Sea of FAith_ to see another strongly interperative historian working with similar materials at roughly the same time, but coming to very different conclusions. As time goes on, I think Mauss’s _All Abraham’s Children_ may become more important than _The Angel and the Beehive_.

  35. I also think that In Sacred Lonliness, while it does treat polygamy quite obviously, it is also a wonderful look into the lives the these women and the way they interacted with their faith. Their stories are wonderful.

  36. a random John says:

    Nick,

    What? We can’t drink beer? Oh man, I’m going to have to talk to my bishop…

  37. a random John says:

    I should add that I agree that section 89 permits beer (and even wine) but not distilled spirits.

  38. I’m not as steeped in some of the more scholarly books, but here are four that I would recommend:

    1. Joseph Smith & the Beginnings of Mormonism, Bushman. Not as thorough as RSR, but more accessible to the average reader, and focuses on the early beginnings of the church as a whole.

    2. Shipps, Mormonism, good look by a friendly outsider
    3. McMurrin, Theological Foundations. A good look into the details of what we believe, how we are different.
    4. Eugene England, probably Why the Church is as True as the Gospel. Less scholarly, but gives insights into living as a member of the church by the master of the personal essay.

  39. Can we all agree that a book to leave off the list is Mormon Doctrine?

  40. #32: I guess I missed ” academic audience”. Anyway, I have ordered Hatch ($8.75 used).

  41. Likewise, I’d vote for All Abraham’s Children to be on the list. With the growing international image of the church, we need to transcend the whiteness that permeates most of our historical analyses.

  42. #39: No. the words may be wrong, but the format may be right.

  43. Randall – I’d definitely agree with you. Even if you accepted Bob’s reply in #42 there are books that take Mormonism topic-by-topic and do it better. Mormon Doctrine has an historical role to play, but its days of usefulness to current members are long past.

  44. I’d probably throw one of Blake’s theological books in there. Even though Blake is more giving his view on Mormon theology I think it’s important to have something theological in there. And frankly most of the alternatives (Pratt, McMurrin, etc.) are pretty poor and Blake does a fantastic job at what he does. I just wish there was a book akin to McMurrin that attempts to explore the breadth of theology within Mormonism rather than arguing for a particular theology. (And frankly while not quite as narrow as Blake’s volumes McMurrin is really giving a particular view of what Mormon theology is while not exploring the range of views)

  45. Oh, so my list would be

    Blake Ostler, The Attributes of God (Volume 1)
    Richard Bushman, Rough Stone Rolling
    Arrington & Bitton, The Mormon Experience
    Thomas G. Alexander, Mormonism in Transition

    Probably the only controversial one is Alexander. It’s pretty dry but I think covers a pretty important transition. It also answers a lot of questions people have such as Mormon political ties, what happened with polygamy etc. While the broad surveys like The Mormon Experience briefly cover this I think Alexander for a more academic person explains why 20th century Mormonism is so unlike 19th.

  46. 1) Bushman/Brodie
    2) Tom Alexander
    3) Douglas Davies, The Mormon Culture of Salvation
    4) Mark Leone, The Rise of Modern Mormonism

    I’ll add a dissertation to the list, Damon Smith’s “The Last Shall be First and the First Shall be Last: Discourse and Mormon History,” written 2 years ago at Penn’s anthropology department. It’s very theoretically dense, but if Daymon gets it published as a monograph, it’s the best analytical treatment of Mormonism I’ve ever read.

  47. BTW, one nice thing about Bushman’s Mormonism: A Very Short Introduction is that it paves the way to most of the books that have been mentioned in this thread. There is a non-overwhelming “Further Reading” list at the end that is broken down by subject that includes Shipps, Givens, Alexander, Prince, Mauss, Arrington, McMurrin, Flake, Barringer-Gordon, etc.

    He also gives a short list of websites for further consultation, along with a brief description of each. Under “Mormon Intellectuals,” he lists T&S, BCC, and FAIR.

  48. JT, you sure that wasn’t under “Mormons Pseudo-Intellectuals”?

  49. Steve – Bushman said it, not me :).

    I think his description of T&S was something like “a blog that attracts mostly Mormons, but with a lot of questions,” and his description of BCC was something along the lines of “like the above [T&S], irreverant but basically faithful.”

  50. Good man, and apt description I’d say.

  51. That dissertation looks interesting Brad. Hopefully someone publishes it.

  52. For a brief primer for people who may not be in for the long treatment of Bitton and Arrington in Mormon Experience, I recently sped through Richard and Claudia Bushman’s Building the Kingdom: A History of Mormons in America. It’s probably the first one I’d recommend on church history given its length and quality. I was pleasantly surprised. (Bonus: it’s cheap, too, and thus makes a good gift for a tight budget.)

  53. #43: I agree, *Mormon Doctrine* should not be on a list for beginners. But please give me the “topic by topic” book that does it better.
    I also think the book is a prefect “time Capsule” of the Mormonism of his time, and can be a useful review of that time even today.

  54. But please give me the “topic by topic” book that does it better

    The Encyclopedia of Mormonism, available free online.

  55. Steve Evans says:

    or We Believe, by Burton. Or Mormonism for Dummies. Or… point is, Bob, MD has been out-done and is a dinosaur.

  56. I think MoDoc isn’t even a particularly good time capsule for Mormonism as a whole. A certain brand of Mormonism, sure.

  57. #54: not a book + 1850 Pages.
    #55: Like the dinosaur, it represents it’s time.
    #56: No time capsule or book can cover the whole of anything. But it seems only the bad of the book is ever the topic.

  58. But it seems only the bad of the book is ever the topic.

    I’d be interested into what you thought the good was.

  59. Randall says:

    To give a sense of day-to-day life under a modern prophet and the evolving policy and practice of the LDS church, nothing would do a better job than preseenting the most recent conference edition of the Ensign.

    The brethren have been increasingly focusing on new converts and the global church. It ends up being an excellent compendium of current Mormonism straight from the horse’s mouth.

  60. TA Esplin says:

    I had taken the original question to imply these were recommendations for someone who was up on their Ensign reading. If the recommendations are for someone’s first four books on Mormonism, then my list would be completely different. I think Rendell in #59 has a great point.

    My recommendations would change to:
    1. Book of Mormon – It’s what Mormons read, quote, and believe. Jacob 2 and Mosiah 15 could mislead, but the Book of Mormon is full of doctrine really important to Mormonism, like prophetic leadership, open access to God, ordinances, and agency.
    2. the most recent General Conference Report – The definitive primary source on current doctrine and practice also doubles as something influential to Mormons.
    3. Talmage’s Articles of Faith or Vitality of Mormonism – Two similar doctrinal explanations: AoF has been more influential; VoM is addressed to outside, academic audiences. Either explains beliefs that have endured for the majority of Church history.
    4. a one volume history – see almost any comment above; I really like Arrington’s writing style, though.

  61. #58:Easy,*Mormon Doctrine* gives us all hope for eternal life. Even S.Evans can not kill it with a wooden stake to it’s heart. Despite all it’s sins and short comings it lives on. What other Mormon book is a pyramid to it writer? If I was on an island with only…..(skip this last part).

  62. Todd Compton says:

    Jonathan: I love these kinds of mini-canons, so here goes. By the way, I haven’t read two of the books you include (Hatch and Kimball), so I have my work cut out for me.

    For my four, I cannot choose books that I wasn’t really enthralled by, but would make good methodical introductions to the field. Instead, I have to pick books that really had a big impact on me, but which might serve an introductory function also.

    1. D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy, vols. 1 and 2
    Many histories of the church, even those written by people I admire a lot, sometimes smooth over problem areas, if they bring them up at all. This is the history of the church, with all the interesting stuff included front and center. It’s a work of great courage, and I was fascinated by every word in it. By my definition of faith (as all-inclusive), this is more faithful than histories that ignore problem areas. It has flaws, but what book isn’t flawed in some way? Some Mormon historians are theoreticians or rhetoricians or both, and have built up substantial reputations; but I love historians who have obviously pored over primary documents in an obsessive way for decades of their lives.

    2. E. Carmon Hardy, Solemn Covenant: the Mormon Polygamous Passage
    This is my book covering a crucial transition period in Mormon history. Alexander’s book is great, but I love the tragic sweep of this book. It’s a remarkable piece of detective work, as it puzzles out the real history of a mysterious, painful period in our history. Its analysis of “public truth conflicts” in this period, in an appendix, is thoughtful and surprisingly sympathetic to Mormons practicing “theocratic ethics” in order to perpetuate plural marriage in secret. For polygamy in general, if I were going with books that “covered the territory” methodically, I might go with Hardy’s recent Doing The Works of Abraham: Mormon Polygamy : Its Origin, Practice, and Demise, which is also magnificent.

    3. Donna Smart, ed., Mormon Midwife: The 1846-1888 Diaries of Patty Bartlett Sessions
    This represents women in the church, and diaries. Donna Smart edits this classic diary with loving care. People who don’t read diaries don’t know what they’re missing. Granted, the storytelling is not linear and nicely packaged for you; sometimes the full story is only hinted at; but that is why diaries are so wonderful. A diary like this is like a jewel – for me it’s like scripture. We call ourselves saints, but Patty the midwife, mother, plural wife, was a real saint. There are unforgettable moments everywhere in this diary. One example is Patty acting as midwife for the new younger wife of her husband who has neglected her. Another is those blessing meetings with Eliza R. Snow while crossing the plains. Or something as simple as meeting her daughter Sylvia after years of separation from her.

    4. John Alton Peterson, Utah’s Black Hawk War.
    This is for Mormonism and Native Americans. I’m researching Jacob Hamblin’s life now, and so Mormonism’s dealings with Indians may loom larger for me than for others. This is a magnificently researched and superbly written book, and amazingly the author teaches for CES. (I think.) In my view, good Mormon history must be very balanced, and Peterson does a great job of sympathizing with both the Utes and the Mormons in this tragic conflict. He captures the complexity of intertribal relations among the Indians and the sometimes seemingly contradictory Indian policy of Brigham Young and the Mormons.

    I’ve left out Juanita Brooks’ Mountain Meadows Massacre and Arrington’s Great Basin Kingdom and a lot of the great books. And my list will be totally different in a month’s time.

    On #35 above. Thank you, Jonathan, for understanding ISL. It isn’t a book about Nauvoo polygamy, though Nauvoo polygamy is there; it’s a book about women who were married to Joseph Smith for a brief moment in their lives. Most of ISL is about the rest of their lives.

    On # 25 above. Thanks, Randy, for being one of the literally dozens of people who have visited by website.

  63. Researcher says:

    I will second Todd in saying that Peterson’s Utah’s Black Hawk War is an excellent book. I don’t know if I would include it in my top four, but I would certainly include it in my top twenty. Definitely a must-read for anyone interested in Utah or Mormon history.

    I drew heavily on Peterson’s dissertation for a project fifteen years ago. Now that the executor of a certain estate has given me access to a vital, unpublished primary source, I’ve resumed work on the project and was happy to see that Peterson’s dissertation has been expanded into this excellent work (published 1998).

    (Did I say “excellent” two times? Well, I mean it. And for any Arizona history buffs, J A Peterson is the son of Charles Peterson [Take Up Your Mission].)

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