Appendix – Recommended Reading

A word on historical writing

Because of the changing nature of how we interpret and explain the past, I cannot presume that history has a monopoly on truth. Historians do their best to examine the fragments of the past and piece together what they think it looked like. In my view, history works best when it seeks to understand change over time rather than attempting to recreate a perfect image of the past. Its power lies in its ability to correct or clarify sometimes longstanding assumptions.

In your examination of history, I suggest reading widely and deeply, seeking a variety of voices and perspectives. Understand that no one is free from bias and pure objectivity is not humanly possible. Do not let any one particular book, website, blog post, or podcast form your final conclusion on any topic, but remain critically aware that there is probably more to say on any subject of inquiry.

Before beginning your reading journey, I suggest watching 2007 PBS Frontline documentary The Mormons as a primer. Here are links to Part One and Part Two.

Recommendations for beginning readers

  1. Matthew Bowman, The Mormon People: The Making of an American Faith
  2. Richard L. Bushman, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling
  3. Linda K. Newell and Valeen Tippets Avery, Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith
  4. Merina Smith, Revelation, Resistance, and Mormon Polygamy: The Introduction and Implementation of the Principle, 1830-1853
  5. John G. Turner, Brigham Young: Pioneer Prophet
  6. Kathryn M. Daynes, More Wives Than One: Transformation of the Mormon Marriage System, 1840-1910
  7. Thomas G. Alexander, Mormonism in Transition: A History of the Latter-day Saints, 1890-1930
  8. Russell W. Stevenson, For the Cause of Righteousness: A Global History of Blacks and Mormonism, 1830-2013
  9. Gregory A. Prince, David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism
  10. Claudia L. Bushman, Contemporary Mormonism: Latter-day Saints in Modern America

Additional recommendations

  1. Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, A House Full of Females: Plural Marriage and Women’s Rights in Early Mormonism, 1835-1870
  2. Ronald W. Walker, Richard E. Turley, and Glen M. Leonard, Massacre at Mountain Meadows
  3. Sarah Barringer Gordon, The Mormon Question: Polygamy and Constitututional Conflict in Nineteenth-Century America
  4. W. Paul Reeve, Religion of a Different Color: Race and the Mormon Struggle for Whiteness
  5. Terryl L. Givens, People of Paradox: A History of Mormon Culture
  6. Kathleen Flake, The Politics of American Religious Identity: The Seating of Senator Reed Smoot, Mormon Apostle
  7. Dave Hall, A Faded Legacy: Amy Brown Lyman and Mormon Women’s Activism, 1872-1959
  8. Martha S. Bradley-Evans, Pedestals and Podiums: Utah Women, Religious Authority, and Equal Rights
  9. Armand Mauss, The Angel and the Beehive: The Mormon Struggle with Assimilation
  10. Gregory A. Prince, Leonard Arrington and the Writing of Mormon History

Scholarly journals

In addition to the books listed above, I recommend reading scholarly journals. The following journals publish articles and book reviews with a historical focus:

Journal of Mormon History
Mormon Historical Studies
BYU Studies Quarterly

Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought
John Whitmer Historical Association Journal

Mormon History Association’s Best Book Award Winners (scroll over book covers for year):

Advertisements