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From Mission to Madness: LAST SON OF THE MORMON PROPHET Paperback – September 1, 1998


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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Avery writes with grace and power. Drawing on rich primary archival sources, she presents a convincing argument and gives us valuable insights not only into the compelling personality of David Smith but also into the time in which he lived... A first-rate biography." -- William A. Wilson, Western Historical Quarterly "A full-bodied biography that thoughtfully illuminates a remarkable life from which much can be learned." -- Richard L. Jensen, Journal of Mormon History "Avery's immensely insightful, scholarly biography of David Hyrum Smith greatly enhances our understanding of this tormented son of the founding prophet of the Latter-day Saints." -- Danny L. Jorgensen, Utah Historical Quarterly "A very thoroughly researched, well-written, and fascinating biography; a superb book that is more than a biography of one subject, but a moving and poignant social history as well." -- Evans Biography Award Panel.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 392 pages
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press (September 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0252067010
  • ISBN-13: 978-0252067013
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,444,893 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 6, 1999
Format: Paperback
I hold a master's degree in history and am particularly interested in Mormon and Western history. This is perhaps one of the best books I have ever read. This has been a research topic for the author for nearly twenty years, beginning as her doctoral dissertation entitled "Insanity and the Sweet Singer." Avery took great pains in researching this book, and delayed its publication until full disclosure of all works became available upon the death of David's final grandson. David was like a young prince, forced to live in the shadow of a famous father and older brother, both leaders of respective churches. Avery shows the slow descent into madness experienced by David Hyrum Smith as he tries to find his place. A disasterous mission to Salt Lake City to convert Mormons will be of interest to Mormons, Reorganized LDS members and readers in general. The look at the Elgin asylum is an fascinating topic for interested parties as well. You cannot go wrong with this book.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By S. DEMILLE on February 21, 1999
Format: Paperback
The book From Mission to Madness proves that mental illness can afflict even the posterity of the Prophets. David H. Smith, son of the famed Mormon prophet Joseph Smith, never lived to know his father; he missed the fatherly embrace by five months. Much to Brigham Young's dismay, David became affiliated with the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and was one of its most effective and revered missionaries. Mental illness overcame him, and he spent the last three decades of his life in a mental hospital. Avery performed wonderfully well in framing his life story, using personal and official RLDS church correspondence. I felt the heartache and pain that David's family experienced as they struggled, hoped and despaired. This book was so engaging that I actually read the entire book in less than two weeks (which, for me, is noteworthy when considering any non-fiction work over 100 pages). David Smith's life was replete with pathos and unfulfilled expectations (he was destined to take his father's place as Prophet). The book also adequately describes the perpetual tension that existed, and at times does currently exist, between the Utah and the RLDS Mormon churches. Even though Avery placed an inordinant emphasis on Smith's poetical works, I would recommend this book to all.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was pleasantly surprised at how much I loved this.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Thorsen on September 14, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very nice enjoyed reading about the last born son of Joseph Smith
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