From Publishers Weekly
In 1999, the Bushmans published Mormons in America, a thoughtful little textbook that was part of Oxford's Religion in American Life series for the young adult market. If you missed that book, never fear: this brief paperback is a slightly edited version of the original YA title. Oxford should be congratulated for having the smarts to realize that adults need basic information about Mormon history, too, particularly in this Olympic month. Here, Claudia Bushman (Mormon Sisters: Women in Early Utah) and husband Richard Bushman (Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism), both historians at Columbia University, present a balanced, informative and brief introduction to one of the world's fastest-growing religious movements. Theirs is a grassroots approach to history; the Bushmans are more interested in the everyday experiences of ordinary Latter-day Saints than they are in the institutional growth of the church, its financial "empire" or its corporate bureaucracy all of which have been well documented elsewhere. They are not afraid to tackle some of the thorny issues of the Mormon past, such as polygamy, the Mountain Meadows Massacre or the early Mormons' feuds with the federal government. But they don't dwell unduly on these blemishes, preferring instead to focus on how Mormonism as a religion has changed over time, and how those changes have contributed to a shifting sense of what it means to be a Latter-day Saint. This user-friendly, perceptive and accessible primer is a welcome counterbalance to the highly specialized literature on Mormon history. (Feb.)Forecast: With a release date coinciding with the winter Olympics in Utah, this title should get off to a good start, but given the dearth of balanced, informative introductions to Mormonism, it is also poised to have a long shelf life as a favorite for course adoption.
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"Tells the remarkable story of how a new religion was born, developed amid persecution and hardship, and became one of the world's fastest growing faiths... Gives great insight into Mormon beliefs and the elaborate organization of community life that is a hallmark of the faith."--The Christian Science Monitor
"A well-rounded treatment that not only presents readers with the facts but also deals with questions that naturally arise... While emphasizing the strengths of Mormonism, the book also looks carefully at some of the controversies that have surrounded it... A strong resource for libraries."--Booklist
"A rich and sympathetic portrayal of what for a time was America's most persecuted religious minority."--The Wall Street Journal
"An engaging and accessible overview ... An informative, sympathetic introduction to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. A major strength of this book is its graceful prose."--Religious Studies in Secondary Schools
"An admirable and objective history of the Mormon church... Invaluable for any reader wanting to learn something about the Mormon religion; even Mormon readers will find this book a very useful guide to their church's history."--VOYA
"A clear, concise, and unbiased account of Mormon history, especially as it relates to the issue of church and state. [The Bushmans] are honest about the number of disaffected Mormons and examine problems within Mormon history, such as the relationship with Native Americans.... Serious treatment of the subject at hand in a way that makes [it] attractive for popular reading by combining text, photographs and original documents."--Library Journal Praise for the Religion in American Life series:
"This series, written in a style that would be accessible to bright high-schoolers, promises to be an excellent supplement to textbooks that too often downplay the central role religion has played in American history."--Library Journal
"[The] texts are concise..., engagingly written, and well illustrated.... Promises to be a lively and accessible read for anyone interested in the various human dramas that constitute America's religious journey. As religious diversity is now growing in the US, and some are concerned about what values will hold the country together, a series that explains Americans clearly to one another is something to be valued."--The Christian Science Monitor
"The Religion in American Life
series meets a need as we strive to educate students beyond the ignorance and confusion that often breeds intolerance."--MultiCultural Review