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Books that share history of the Latter-day Saints

By

Mormon Times

Published: Tuesday, June 28 2011 6:30 a.m. MDT

Here is a list of about a dozen books — both fiction and nonfiction — about different aspects of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' history.

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"ZION's TRUMPET: 1850 Welsh Mormon Periodical," by Ronald D. Dennis, BYU Religious Studies Center, $24.99, 346 pages (nf)

Many Latter-day Saints are familiar with the charge early Mormon missionaries received to carry the their teachings to the British Isles. Several periodicals emerged from such proselyting efforts. A periodical that includes news to the early Saints in Wales in 1850 through "Zion's Trumpet," a periodical operated by Welsh convert John S. Davis and compiled today by author Ronald Dennis. This volume is a companion to the 1849 "Zion's Trumpet" collection published in 2001.

Davis' work at the helm of the publication filled a void left by Dan Jones, who took 300 Welsh Mormon converts to America. Davis was appointed after having assisted Jones for 2 1/2 years in the publication of various pamphlets, a hymnal, a 288-page scriptural commentary and the monthly periodical "Prophet of the Jubilee," part of a publication that ran 12 times in 1849 and 28 times in 1850. Some of the more appealing parts of the volume are the occasional proverbs, poetry and humor dispersed among the hard LDS Church news. In many ways, they recall thoughts to the "Instant Messages" of the New Era or the reader submissions to the Ensign

Among the intriguing reads involves the letters from the early brethren, including President John Taylor, the third president of the LDS Church. If the church is continuing to "bring it(self) forth out of obscurity and out of darkness" in our modern day, then these brethren were writing from the perspective of a small sparkler trying to be seen in an otherwise large fireworks show.The epistles echo those written by Paul and other apostles of the primitive church in the New Testament, but they have their own unique voice in speaking of the challenge of being recognized by other people and nations.

The words do, at times, burst off the page and remind any member of the church of the great ordeals that many of their likely ancestors not only faced once they immigrated but also of the challenges they faced in being recognized upon their own soil after their conversion. Not too many pages into the book, LDS readers may realize that while the language harks back to an earlier time, the apostolic instruction and theology published isn't all that different from that which they hear and read today. The publication also includes baptism and priesthood ordination statistics. This compilation of "Zion's Trumpet" recalls respect for these early Latter-day Saints as they encountered doctrine and hardships new to them.

— Rhett Wilkinson

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"CALLED TO WAR: Dawn of the Mormon Battalion," by Sherman L. Fleek, Digital Legend Press, $24.95, 559 pages (nf)

"Called to War: Dawn of the Mormon Battalion" is a hefty volume that, at first blush, promises detailed, thrilling stories of the 500 Mormon husbands, brothers and fathers who marched hundreds of dusty miles to fight in a war that wasn't theirs.

Based loosely on stories, known facts and recounts from family journals, the book, written by Sherman L. Fleek, does share small anecdotes that might really have taken place, but the composition is somewhat forced, and it's not easy to read. For example, what young boy would ask his mother, "Why do men, and why do nations become brutes? Murdering the innocent, God's children?"The dialogue is stilted, and the voice shifts from first to third person in almost every paragraph as if to find purchase.This book keeps promising to get good as it moves from character to character to tell the tale, but it doesn't ever fully engage.

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