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In Heaven as It Is on Earth: Joseph Smith and the Early Mormon Conquest of Death Hardcover – January 2, 2012

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 408 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (January 2, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199793573
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199793570
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 6.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #882,971 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"One of this work's many virtues is that it provides the best explanation of Mormon temple worship ever published. Moreover, as Brown makes his case that this religion's 'end goal is the conquest of death,' he clarifies much about Mormon belief that is mysterious to outsiders (p. 170)." --Journal of American History

"In this groundbreaking and important volume, Brown... delves deeply into the many streams of thought that informed Smith's formulation of the life hereafter... Emerging at a time of intense religious competition, Smith and his closest associates developed a wonderfully complex belief system that mapped out the next life with clarity and consistency. Brown offers us a masterful look at this intriguing aspect of the Mormon worldview. This is must reading for students of the American religious tradition." --Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

"This is a book purportedly about the dead and the conquest of death in early Mormonism. "It is actually much more than that. It traces the development of a large number of Joseph Smith's most fundamental teachings from the beginning to his death. Brown weaves the most exotic elements of Mormonism-seerstones, new names, hieroglyphs, angels, the Adamic tongue, Masonic catechisms, seals, ritual adoptions-into an illuminating and compelling explication of Joseph Smith's beliefs about the temple, family, and human salvation." --Richard Bushman, Gouverneur Morris Professor Emeritus of History, Columbia University

"Scholars have looked long and hard at the Puritan way of death as well as the development of the funeral industry's way of death. Working in between those historical domains on early Mormon views and practices of holy dying, Samuel Brown has produced an imaginative, yet gravely serious book-one of obvious consequence for Mormon studies, but also one of broad resonance in American studies." --Leigh E. Schmidt, Edward Mallinckrodt University Professor, Washington University in St. Louis

"This is a brilliant work of intellectual and cultural history, in which Brown finds compelling continuities between Joseph Smith's early supernatural quests and his later ministry. All the while, Brown charts Smith's death-defying project as one that is both intensely personal and steeped in a rich and wondrous culture of death. Superbly executed." --Terryl L. Givens, co-author of Parley P. Pratt: The Apostle Paul of Mormonism

"Brown ably tackles Mormon beliefs about death in a highly readable series of connected essays.. He has covered the primary sources in depth and unearthed little-used materials to support his argument. Students of American religious history will be interested in this readable book as will a more general readership." --Library Journal

"[T]his book is one of the most significant Mormon titles to come out in a while . . . an interesting and well-researched version of Mormon history... Brown's work is a major accomplishment and an example of where Mormon historiography is headed." --Association of Mormon Letters

"...Brown offers fresh insights into a whole host of flashpoints within the study of early Mormonism:treasure hunting...Brown's book makes much about early Mormonism make sense."--Religion in American History

"[G]roundbreaking . . . Brown offers a riveting reinterpretation of Smith's religious vision, brings his readers into the cultural world Smith inhabited, and also reflects on the need for contemporary Americans to 'walk toward, and--earnestly, anxiously--through death with each other.' In Heaven merits a broad readership that stretches beyond the confines of both Mormonism and academia." --Books & Culture

About the Author

Samuel Brown is Assistant Professor of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at the University of Utah/Intermountain Medical Center and the translator of Aleksandr Men's Son of Man.

More About the Author

Samuel Morris Brown (born 1972), a medical researcher and physician, is Assistant Professor of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine and Medical Ethics and Humanities at the University of Utah and attending physician in the Shock Trauma Intensive Care Unit at Intermountain Medical Center. He investigates hidden rhythms in heart function during life-threatening infection. In his limited free time, Samuel studies and writes about the human and cultural meanings of kinship, embodiment, illness, and mortality.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Bryan Kerr on February 23, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I must say that I was hesitant to buy this book. The author is a medical professor. I was unsure as to whether a professor of medicine could write a book on the historical, and evolutionary thoughts of a past religious figure. I bought the book, read it, and decided that not only could this man write such a study but he could write a damn good one.

This book traces Joseph Smith's ideas on death, and other related topics. There are already great reviews of this book online, so I want go into detail here but the book is good, it is well researched, and it is well bound (a very important thing for me). It is worth the money, it is worth your time reading it, and it will change your understanding of death in the early Mormon church. Highly recommended.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jacob Hobbs on May 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The author did a great job highlighting the different world Joseph Smith lived in. He convincingly demonstrates how the world's preoccupation with death and dying affected everything else, and how this was especially true for Joseph Smith. Read this book to see how the Mormon prophet had close encounters with death, sought after the things of the dead, was forced to confront the dead and dying, spoke with and for the dead, and forged a unique system to unite himself and fellow saints with the dead in a triumph over death. It is well worth it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Kirk Caudle on December 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover
For my money, the best book dealing with Joseph Smith is Richard Bushman's 2007 biography of the Prophet, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling. In 2012, Samuel Brown has produced the second best book about Joseph Smith. Brown, a medical researcher and physician, takes on the 19th century American Christian death culture that was so present in the daily lives of Joseph Smith and his family. Using that culture as a backdrop, Brown presents, through the eyes of Smith, the complex development of an afterlife/death theology in early Mormonism.In Heaven as it is on Earth is a must for any serious student of the theological thought of Joseph Smith and early Moronism.
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