In February 2012, Roy A. Prete and his wife were listening to Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve speak at the Deseret Book annual authors' banquet in Salt Lake City.
During his remarks, Elder Perry encouraged the audience of authors to write more books in order to keep up with the growing interest in Mormonism.
"It burned so deeply into my soul that I was willing to take it on," Prete said.
Prete, a retired history professor, drew upon his experience as a missionary in France in the mid-1960s to come up with a book idea. He recalled using a pictorial introduction to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints titled, "The Mormon Story," by Rulon S. Howell, published in 1957, on his mission.
He also remembered a similar book called "Meet the Mormons," by Doyle L. and Randall L. Green, that was used in the 1960s and ’70s to introduce people to the church. He envisioned the creation of a new book with up-to-date photos and information, Prete said.
"The book would have as key themes the centrality of Jesus Christ in the Mormon belief system, the importance of the family in the divine plan, and the consequent focus on strengthening the family," Prete said. "It would also reiterate that Mormons are ordinary people, serving in their communities all over the world, wherever there is religious freedom."
Almost two years later, the book, titled "The Mormons: An Illustrated History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," is now published and available for purchase at MerrellPublishing.com, Deseret Book, Amazon.com and other bookstores.
"It brings me immense satisfaction," Prete said. "At times I didn't think it could be done."
The book, designed by Stephen Hales, is full of color photos that portray an overview of the LDS Church. Associate editors include Richard O. Cowan, John P. Livingstone and Craig J. Ostler.
Prete said all proceeds will be donated to LDS Charities, with one-third going to the Perpetual Education Fund and two-thirds to LDS Humanitarian Aid.
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