REVIEW: Massacre At Mountain Meadows

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 16 2008 12:27 p.m. MDT

The most amazing thing about the book is that the reader will not likely dwell on who was to blame at all but rather wonder, "If I had been there, would I have participated?"

But the reader likely will not be able to answer that question. And herein lies the book's greatest value.

It won't allow the reader much distance from the people and the events. It just is not convenient. You have to sweat it out in your own soul. It grabs you and won't let you go.

At one moment, after most of the horrors of the massacre are finished, readers may find themselves metaphorically standing in two places. On one side an emigrant stands using an infant as a human shield. On the other side stands a Mormon with his gun ready to fire. Is it a nightmare being recounted? Is it a real event? Who do you side with?

Violence comes when other people are cast as so different that they are treated as less than human. This book forces readers to walk through the valley of the shadow of death. And that valley is within each reader.

This story offers the reader the chance to confront humanity. It can give a gift of understanding and a blessed uncertainty.

The strangest thing of all is that the book can expand the reader's love for other people. It would not be surprising for a reader to finish the book not thinking about blame but but having a hope that all those involved can find forgiveness and that the love of God would heal the deepest wounds.

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