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Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith Paperback – June 1, 1994


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Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith + No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith + Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press; 2 Sub edition (June 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0252062914
  • ISBN-13: 978-0252062919
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #83,470 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

It was simply a good, researched, interesting book.
A. Y. Smittle
From reading the many biographies of Joseph Smith (hereafter "JS"), we are well acquainted with Emma and her father, Isaac Hale.
Matthew Bryde
292-293) This book is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for anyone interested in LDS history!
Steven H. Propp

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

220 of 225 people found the following review helpful By Linda K. Newell on March 15, 2009
Format: Paperback
It has been 25 years since Valeen tippets Avery and I completed the manuscript of Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith, published by Doublday, Inc. in 1984. University of Illinois Press released a revised second edition in 1994, which enabled us to make a number of correctons, mainly associated with documents that were forged by Mark Hoffman. Since its first release, Mormon Enigma has seen steady sales--about 1000 copies a year. Hopfully it will remain a mainstay in Mormon history in the forseeable future.

So after all these years, I decided to read, for the first time, the reviews of the book posted on Amazon.Com--twenty-three to date. Most of them were kind; a few had erroneous information which I wish to correct here.

A review by "A Customer" titled "Enlightening Scholarship," June 16, 2001, said that one of the authors is LDS and the other RLDS (now Community of Christ Church). I am LDS and so was Val (she died suddenly on April 7, 2006.)

Angele Dawn Bissonette in her August 21, 2006, review stated that one of the authors was ecommunicated. Neither of us were excommunicated. The powers that be in the LDS church, however, were not happy with the book, saying that "it is a non-traditional view of Joseph Smith." To discourage the sale of the book they banned us from speaking in any LDS Church meetings or even in any Church buildings on anything having to do with LDS Church history. When the press picked up the story, sales of the book tripled. The ban lasted about a year--from May 1985 to May 1986. At that time I received word that we were no longer under any restrictions.

The most startling misconception titled "amazon.com has it wrong," April 6, 1999, came from another person identified as "A Customer.
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55 of 57 people found the following review helpful By P.J. Frost on November 6, 1999
Format: Paperback
After reading many books which either sugar-coated or demonized the early Mormon experience, I found the extensive use of authentic documents (letters, diaries, news articles, church & public records) in the work to be refreshing. The authors seemed to have no other agenda than to discover and reveal Emma's actual experience. Emma is portrayed with a wide spectrum of human qualities, overlain with a strong, consistent spiritual vision. Peering into her husband/prophet's life, through her perspective, seemed to give a fair, historically accurate, and unromanticized, view of a man who has inspired strong emotions, devotion and criticism. I recommend it. The view of life during the decades of Emma's life was carefully drawn and gives appreciation for the challenges of people in that time and place.
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70 of 76 people found the following review helpful By Geoffrey L Smith on August 26, 2001
Format: Paperback
This biography is well researched and shows what a great and strong woman Emma Smith was. It was especially interesting to see how she dealt with the polygamy issue with Joseph Smith and also to see how well she raised her children after his death. The only reason that I marked this book down a little was because the first third of the book was a little difficult to get through. In this part of the book it seemed to me that I was reading a biography of Joseph Smith, rather than Emma. As a footnote, it was also interesting to note some of the trials the authors have faced from church leaders due to their writing this book. They seemed to have gotten into a little trouble for sharing some of the less flattering aspects of Joseph Smith's and Brigham Young's actions. If anything, the authors treaded lightly in these areas and could have been much more blunt in sharing their character defects in regards to their treatment of Emma. But kudos to the authors for being willing to write what they did.
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76 of 85 people found the following review helpful By Roger D. Launius VINE VOICE on January 19, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is one of the finest examples of what can be accomplished when diligent and skillful historians of Mormonism move beyond their religious biases and seek to understand a subject rather than engage in religious polemics. Written by Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippetts Avery, this biography of Emma Smith, the wife of Joseph Smith Jr., the Mormon founder, presents a sweeping and dramatic portrait of this remarkable woman.
Generally accepted as a pathbreaking book, "Mormon Enigma" rehabilitated the image of Emma Smith as the obstinate and faith-shirking figure that had long held sway among the Mormons and at the same time debunked the image she enjoyed in Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, now the Community of Christ, which she joined in 1860. In that tradition she was "holier than thou," a good samaritan who faithfully discharged her responsibilities to ensure that her son, Joseph Smith III, became president of that dissident group. In both instances the result was positive. The book placed Emma Smith into an interpretive framework which taught Mormondom much about its trials and sacrifices, triumphs and tragedies. The work made possible, along with other historical workds, a major reinterpretation of the formative period of Mormonism.
This book is must reading for anyone who even pretends to be well-versed in the history of Mormonism. Buy it, read it, pass it on to your friends.
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47 of 51 people found the following review helpful By A. Y. Smittle on September 21, 2000
Format: Paperback
I was dying of curiosity; I wanted to know what happened to Emma Smith. This book tells you in detail--it even gives you the details of her children and her role in the mormon community during and after the prophets life. I am not a mormon; however, I have mormon history and I find Emma Smith fascinating. She believed her husband and followed him through so much. She never questioned his teachings except for the polygamy issue; how betrayed she must have felt when those women so very close to her were "chosen" to be Joseph's wives and "hid it all behind her back." I fail to see what is so holy about that, life threatening or not. I see those women as enamoured by Joseph Smith and his position of power, status and celebrity in the Church---"groupies" basically. It seems Emma has proved she was not impressed so much by his authority, but of her human husband. Capable of much folly and error, yet wholly human. The authors paint Mr. Smith as just such a man. I feel they have Emma's personality down right. She had an unlucky time with her husbands. For a woman of such wit and intelligence, as this book proves, it is too bad. The authors show us also how Emma was seen by the Church and its members after Josephs death. I feel the book was not biased, for it seems an effort was made to keep it objective. I appreciate that it was not an attempt to convert me or prove "mormonism" to me at all, either. It was simply a good, researched, interesting book. Truly, Emma Smith was an "enigma."
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