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Brigham Young: American Moses Paperback – April 1, 1986

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press; Reprint edition (April 1, 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0252012968
  • ISBN-13: 978-0252012969
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #520,390 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Gives readers as good a picture as they are likely to get of the man who assumed leadership of the major part of the Mormon Church when Joseph Smith was assassinated in 1844, led its members west, and built a church empire in Utah." -- New York Times Book Review

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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See all 22 customer reviews
This is a work of great maturity and sophistication.
Roger D. Launius
This is certainly by far the best biography ever written on a very important figure in western American history.
I highly recommend this book to anyone that wants to learn more about Brigham Young's life.
Jeffrey Van Wagoner

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 41 people found the following review helpful By R. W. Rasband VINE VOICE on July 27, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book is the summing-up of Leonard Arrington's great career as the father of the New Mormon History, that renaissance of candor during the '60's and '70's. He had full access to the massive church archives in Salt Lake by virtue of his appointment as Church Historian, something no other biographer of Brigham could get. He used this access, his training as one of America's finest historians, and his own moderate yet faithful temprament to produce the definitive book on Brigham--one that could satisfy the strictest canons of his profession and also could be faithful to his religious tradition. Arrington wrote with loving yet open eyes, and this book belongs on the shelf of everyone who enjoys Western Americana.
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27 of 34 people found the following review helpful By bixodoido on August 7, 2002
Format: Paperback
Brigham Young was undoubtedly one of the most intriguing leaders of the 19th century. There exist many biographies on him, most of which are not worth your time. This book, however, is a notable exception. Possessing a talent for objectivity that is all too rare in biographical literature, and much less when religion or personal values are involved, Arrington presents the story of the life of Brigham Young in a real sense. He achieves what so many cannot--the ability to evaluate the man in an unbiased way and still be true to his beliefs (Arrington was a member of the Mormon church). The author does a wonderful job of presenting Young as a human being, complete with faults and failures. In so doing, however, the dignity and majesty of his character are in no way compromised. The facts and events of his life are presented as they really occurred, without the taint of bias or speculation, and should be informative and unoffensive to Mormon and non-Mormon alike. For a true in-depth look in the life of this modern Moses, this book is definitely worth your time.
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32 of 42 people found the following review helpful By lordhoot on July 9, 2003
Format: Paperback
This biography proves to be a very informative life account of one of the great leaders of the LDS as well as one of the prime movers of the American West. But Leonard Arrington avoids the major controversies that surrounded Brigham Young, exhorting on his virtures rather then his faults. While that does not make a bad biography, it doesn't show us the complete man. Arrington make it clear that Young was the right man for the right job at the right moment in history. Without his leadership, intelligence and gusto, the Mormon church probably won't have survived the death of Joseph Smith, its founder. Arrington revealed how talented, how skilled and how devoted Young was to his church and how he put all he had into it. But what Arrington failed to get into, was some of Young's failings which must be just as important as his accomplishments. Arrington played into the traditional Mormon defense on Mountain Meadow Massacre, doesn't question Young's devotion to plural marriages which often rallied the rest of the nation against the Mormons and Young's racist attitudes - especically toward blacks that the LDS Church didn't resolved until the 1970s. Although these are just examples, they presented long term problems that Young left behind and they should have been address by the author. But overall, its still a good biography and worth the effort in reading it and understanding the basic essence of the man.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Roger D. Launius VINE VOICE on February 10, 2006
Format: Paperback
Between the 1950s and the 1990s no one was more important in advancing the cause of Mormon history than Leonard J. Arrington. Prolific personally, and encouraging of others, he is best known for a path-breaking book "Great Basin Kingdom: An Economic History of the Latter-day Saints, 1830-1900" (Harvard University Press, 1958), but "Brigham Young: American Moses" is a close second. This is a work of great maturity and sophistication. On rereading it twenty years after it was first published, it remains unsurpassed as a biographical treatment of this remarkable Mormon leader. In it Arrington tells the life story of Brigham Young, an early convert to Mormonism and the leader of the largest group of Mormonism to emerge from the split that took place within the church at the time of the assassination of Joseph Smith in 1844. As president of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles Young had a powerful position from which to exert influence over the churc. At first he asserted leadership only as president of the Twelve, and was only ordained to the presidency in 1847.

But it is what Young did afer the 1844 succession crisis in Mormonism that is most important. He realized that the Latter-day Saints had to depart the United States to enjoy their peculiar version of theocracy with esoteric temple rituals, plural marriage, and a millennial expectation of the destruction of all earthly governments and the establishment of a "Kingdom of God" on Earth. He led the Mormons to the Rocky Mountains, hence Arrington's characterization of him as the "American Moses," arriving in the Great Basin in 1847 and establishing Salt Lake City beside the lake from which it took its name. For a decade he aggressively expanded his Mormon kingdom in the mountains, but in 1857 he faced down a U.S.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Forrest Wildwood VINE VOICE on March 23, 2007
Format: Paperback
The name Brigham Young conjures up many images of the unsettled West. He was one of the greatest religious colonizers of the nineteenth century. The reason is the overall fact that he was so successful. Much of the Eastern images dealt mainly with his polygamous relationships. This unfortunately overlooks his major contributions as founder of over 300 settlements in the West's Great Basin. He gathered the beleaguered Mormons, from Missouri, Illinois and the World, home to the Rocky Mountains. Leonard Arrington, late LDS Church Historian, has compiled a fairly objective account of his life. From Brigham's early conversion to Mormonism through the migration to the Salt Lake Valley to his settling the Utah range, here is a history of a very interesting man. As LDS President, Prophet , Territory Governor and Indian Agent, Brigham displayed a very practical and pragmatic philosophy. Arrington show us a man that truly was faithful to Joseph Smith. Not only did he preach and read scripture but he practiced what he preached. This was no better emphasized than on Sunday October 5, 1856 when he stood and delivery the opening address of the semiannual general conference. He said "I will now give this people the subject and the text for the Elders who may speak today and during the conference. It is this....Many of our brethren and sisters are on the Plains (Wyoming snows) with handcarts, and probably many are now seven hundred miles from this place. They must be brought here, we must send assistance to them. The text will be to get them here!..I will tell you all that your faith, religion and profession of religion will not save one soul of you in the celestial kingdom of our God unless you carry out just such principles as I am now teaching you.Read more ›
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