Books that share history of the Latter-day Saints


Mormon Times

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

No one character comes to the forefront and becomes important to the reader, and it doesn't feel real. Names are dropped all over the place,  so one might find a fleeting reference to an ancestor. There's also a fair amount of indoctrination. There are some rather gruesome segments such as the butchery lesson and the description of slaves caged in a wagon going by that sit one up. There is an attempt at romantic passages. There is a good effort made to weave the facts together with a storyline, but there's a lot of politics, a hearty dose of religious preachiness and lots of descriptions of trees, water and landscape.

It's more of a "this-is-what-we-think-it-was-like" novel than a true-life accounting. For those interested in the Mormon trek west and the Mormon Battalion, it may deserve a place on the reference shelf. There's certainly been plenty of research done. But as a story to relish, not so much.

— Sharon Haddock

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"40 WAYS TO LOOK AT BRIGHAM YOUNG," by Chad M. Orton and William W. Slaughter, Deseret Book, $23.95, 304 pages (nf)

The "American Moses," as he is called, Brigham Young is one who has been written about over the years in a positive and negative light.

There are many prevailing, at times contradictory, opinions about who Brigham Young was, and it can be tough to discern what is the truth. The book "40 Ways to Look at Brigham Young," by Chad M. Orton and William W. Slaughter, tries to provide a way for the honest searcher of the truth to learn who Young was as a person, religious and political leader, family man and more.

The structure of this book follows the title provided it, "40 Ways to Look at Brigham Young." The 40 chapters within the book flow well together, and when considering the varying subjects, including opposing views of Brigham, this is a great accomplishment of the authors. To help the reader better understand him, pull down the myths that surround him and to ensure less personal opinion and more facts, the authors have pulled in opposing views of Young and do a good job of dispelling the lies or myths by providing true accounts or context around situations and stories.

"If Brigham Young is not the most misunderstood individual on the lists of the 100 greatest and most influential Americans, he likely has been the most maligned," the authors wrote.

Some of the chapters in the book include the following: The Lion of the Lord (a nickname of Brigham Young's); Brigham as Leader; Family Man; and Brigham as a Renaissance Man. Each chapter in the book provides new insight and unique perspectives about him with very little repetition. "40 Ways to Look at Brigham Young" is put together well and provides a great knowledge base for those who know little about him, or for those who have studied the man extensively. This book can help one truly learn dispel the myths and learn more about a remarkable man. The authors have done a great job of putting forth their work and expressing their knowledge and mission.

— Jordan Morrow

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"THE MORMON MENACE: Violence and Anti-Mormonism in the Postbellum South," by Patrick Q. Mason, Oxford Press, $29.95, 194 pages

As he rode along a road north of Van Buren, Ark., Parley P. Pratt, an apostle and missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was attacked by a small posse of men. The leader, Hector McLean, unloaded his revolver at the unarmed elder and though he repeatedly missed Pratt, the surprise and stress allowed McLean the opportunity to eventually murder the famed Apostle of the Restoration.

Pratt's last words were, "I am dying a martyr to the faith."

Using this event as a foundation, in his book "The Mormon Menace: Violence and Anti-Mormonism in the Postbellum South," author Patrick Q. Mason recounts the history of Latter-day Saint persecutions in the post-Civil War South, as the church sought to spread its influence throughout that area. Citing journal entries, news articles, speeches and other commentary, Mason carefully and thoroughly examines the difficult experiences of missionaries and members who taught and accepted the message of the Restoration.

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