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Mormon Country (Second Edition) Paperback – September 1, 2003


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Mormon Country (Second Edition) + The Gathering of Zion: The Story of the Mormon Trail + Beyond the Hundredth Meridian: John Wesley Powell and the Second Opening of the West
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 362 pages
  • Publisher: Bison Books; 2 edition (September 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803293054
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803293052
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #274,765 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Stegner’s book makes excellent reading and is also solidly based. . . . His residence of fifteen years in the region he is describing allows him to mingle ease with authority.”—New York Times
(New York Times )

“Stegner combines a great amount of information and lively comment with fine description of one of the most beautiful and least known regions of the United States.”—Boston Globe
(Boston Globe )

From the Inside Flap

"Stegner’s book makes excellent reading and is also solidly based. . . . His residence of fifteen years in the region he is describing allows him to mingle ease with authority."—New York Times.

"Stegner combines a great amount of information and lively comment with fine description of one of the most beautiful and least known regions of the United States."—Boston Globe.

Where others saw only sage, a salt lake, and a great desert, the Mormons saw their "lovely Deseret," a land of lilacs, honeycombs, poplars, and fruit trees. Unwelcome in Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois, they migrated to the dry lands between the Rockies and the Sierra Nevada to establish Mormon country, a wasteland made green. Like the land the Mormons settled, their habits stood in stark contrast to the frenzied recklessness of the American West. Opposed to the often prodigal individualism of the West, Mormons lived in closely knit—some say ironclad—communities. The story of Mormon country is one of self-sacrifice and labor spent in the search for an ideal in the most forbidding territory of the American West. Richard W. Etulain provides a new introduction to this edition.


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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on June 6, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book consists of a collection of 28 beautifully-written essays that focus on Mormon life and the wide range of Gentiles who lived in Mormon country in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Stegner has made a broad range of topics fascinating: the basics of life in a Mormon community; the avid converts who moved to Utah from Europe and Hawaii; the notorious Mountain Meadows massacre; the bizarre Deseret Alphabet; the story of Short Creek, AZ, where a polygamist community, protected from the law by geography, flourished briefly in the early 20th century; the wild mining towns; Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch; John Wesley Powell's river explorations; a paleontologist who devoted his life to dinosaur hunting in the desert; and the story of Everett Ruess, who mysteriously disappeared in the desert.
Stegner, a Gentile, seems to have considerable affection for the Mormons and their accomplishments as well as the ruggedly beautiful landscape of Utah. Although the book was originally published in 1942, it is still fascinating reading for anybody traveling around or living in Mormon country who would like not only a better understanding of the history and culture of the people who managed to tame a desert that most settlers only grudgingly trudged through on their way to greener points much further west, but of the many others attracted to that same desert for fortune-making, exploration, crime, science, and glorious solitude.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Mike Smith on October 6, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book consists of several essays that address various facets of Mormon history and Mormon culture, especially in the West and in Utah, though many of the things Stegner writes about aren't Mormon at all but just take place in predominantly Mormon areas.

The author touches on the interesting Deseret alphabet--a bizarre, phonetic alphabet that Mormon leader Brigham Young tried to get all Mormons to learn--on missing artist-explorer Everett Ruess, on the settlements along the Colorado River, and on the effects Mormon culture had on local Indian tribes.

Stegner seems to really like and admire the Mormons, though he was never one himself, and his book is almost always fair, and at times even loving, to them.

This is an enjoyable read for anyone interested in these parts of the West, particularly in Utah and the Colorado Plateau. It's also well indexed and can be easily used as a reference. It's one of Stegner's best, for sure.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By J Martin Jellinek on February 16, 2009
Format: Paperback
As a non-Mormon, I have always been fascinated with a faith that has remained strong and isolated, even when it resides in the midst of much misunderstanding. Much of this secrecy seems to be intentional. In Mormon Country, Stegner breaks through a part of this secrecy and gives the outsider insight into who the Mormons are and how they live. There is not much about their faith, but much about their lives and society.

Since the book is now over sixty years old, it reflects a time that has been lost. It tells stories that may well have been first or second hand accounts of the founding of the Mormon Country. The writing is crisp and moves easily. This is interesting reading for anyone interested in getting a basic understanding of wh the Mormons are and how they live.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Arthur Digbee VINE VOICE on December 16, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This edition is a nice presentation of a classic book. Though himself a "Gentile," novelist and history writer Wallace Stegner lived for many years in the Mormon-dominated country of the intermountain West. This book tells the story of this important cultural area in the western United States.

The book is hard to classify. It's not a traditional history, and certainly not an academic one because there are no sources or footnotes. Significant parts rely on oral history, while other chapters pass on anecdotes about famous people with wide circulation in the area. It's anthropological in some ways, but an anthropologist probably wouldn't recognize it as such.

Stegner was a novelist before he wrote history, and he knows how to tell a story. He's not a Saint but he's sympathetic to them as people. When he says something critical about their beliefs or culture, he qualifies it by pointing out parallels in Gentile society.

The overwhelmingly rural, agricultural society that he emphasizes has passed with urbanization. Yet one indication of his perceptiveness is that he identifies two small towns - - St. George and Moab - - as likely tourist destinations if they were ever discovered. The changes to those towns, and to Mormon Country and the United States, are a measure of the changes that have occurred since 1942. Even so, the book reads well and provides a great window into this cultural region.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kathryn Esplin on May 11, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My parents often mentioned Wallace Stegner when I was growing up in Utah. Stegner and I share some basic facts. He and I went to the same high school (many decades apart) and he was at the University of Utah, as were my parents -- as students and then as professors. My parents were raised LDS, but stopped going and became 'Jack Mormons' - Mormons officially still on the books but who have stopped practicing. My parents raised my siblings and I in a non-religious home.

Stegner discusses my great-grandfather Thomas Chamberlain. Chamberlain was my father's mother's father. It is evident that Stegner has done his homework.

Beginning on page 118, Stegner writes of Orderville and my great-grandfather, Bishop Chamberlain. Orderville was a communal living arrangement in Southern Utah. My grandmother spoke of it frequently, as she grew up not long after Orderville ceased operation.

"Orderville was more than a hundred miles from a railroad then. The terminal of the Denver and Western branch of the Rio Grande line -- called the ''Wooden Shoe line'' because the Scandinavian peasants working the fields in their sabots -- was at Marysvale. But it was not mere isolation from the world that let the communal village thrive where so many similar experiments in towns nearby failed miserably...

"No one could say that one got more than another, because skilled and unskilled labor were paid alike. There were no plutocrats and no charity cases, and for a long time, no bad feelings of any kind between members. When they founded their town, they were earnest for cooperation, so earnest that most of them were baptized into it. A new member was carefully quizzed by the board. Did he believe that the Lord had advised him to join this co-operative life?
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