Book review: 'Tales from the World Tour' is historical treasure

By Rosemarie Howard

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, Jan. 5 2013 5:00 a.m. MST

"Tales from the World Tour: The 1895-1897 Travel Writings of Mormon Historian Andrew Jensen" is a book that's been edited by Reid L. Neilson and Riley M. Moffat.

Deseret Book

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"TALES FROM THE WORLD TOUR: The 1895-1897 Travel Writings of Mormon Historian Andrew Jenson," edited by Reid L. Neilson and Riley M. Moffat, Deseret Book and BYU Religious Studies Center, $34.99, 446 pages (nf)

“Tales from the World Tour: The 1895-1897 Travel Writings of Mormon Historian Andrew Jenson,” edited by historians Reid L. Neilson and Riley M. Moffat, gathers in one volume letters and journal entries written by Andrew Jenson, an early historian for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In the late 1800s, Jenson, a Danish convert, traveled to all of the existing missions of the LDS Church outside of the U.S. He went as an official representative of the Church History Department — a first in the church’s early history. His travels included visits to Hawaii, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, New Zealand, French Polynesia, Australia, Israel and Europe.

Jenson’s ability to record what he saw and experienced is impressive, given his strenuous and demanding travel schedule that took him through a variety of cultures, time zones and living conditions.

The letters, arranged chronologically, were written as daily journal entries that include detailed descriptions of geography, facts and descriptions of the scenery and people Jenson encountered. His efforts to gather historical records, along with his missionary efforts, are also documented.

Along with 79 of the 80 letters that were published in the Deseret News, the editors include excerpts from a translation of Jenson’s autobiography, originally published in Danish.

Also included are three appendices: a brief biography of Jenson by Davis Bitton and Leonard J. Arrington, mission histories collected and written by Jenson, a table showing the chronology and publication dates of Jenson’s letters in the Deseret News from 1895-1898, and an index.

The book is illustrated with black and white photos and is nicely layed out in two-column pages that make reading relatively easy. Each of the 12 chapters begins with an excerpt from Jenson’s writings and a vintage world map of the area covered in the chapter.

Any student of Mormon history will find this a great resource and a valuable contribution to understanding the worldwide nature of the LDS Church from its beginnings.

Moffat has lived in the South Pacific for more than 40 years and is the senior librarian and head of reference at the Joseph F. Smith Library, BYU-Hawaii. He is currently documenting church history sites in the Pacific.

Neilson has written a number of academic books, including “Joseph Smith: Reappraisals after Two Centuries,” and is the managing director of the LDS Church History Department.

Rosemarie Howard lives in a 100-year-old house on Main Street, Springville. She enjoys creating multimedia projects. Her website is at dramaticdimensions.com.

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