Top positive review
41 of 48 people found this helpful
Detailed information on the history of polygamy
on August 23, 2002
I first read Van Wagoner's book a decade ago, but I dusted it off recently as I read through Richard Abanes' excellent tome "One Nation Under Gods." Although Van Wagoner is, as I far as I know and understand it, LDS, he is very fair with the facts, even though he shows the LDS Church leaders from the turn of the 20th century in a less-than-honest light. I find it amusing where several previous reviewers on Amazon claimed that this is an anti-LDS work. Why should something be considered "anti-LDS" just because it gives the documented facts with the sources included? A religion that struggles with only encouraging "faith-promoting" materials is one that should be highly scruntinized before one attempts to become invovled with it.
The book's type is small--I estimate it at 11 point--so be prepared to put on the reading glasses. I do like the fact, though, that Van Wagoner kept the endnotes to a minimum. I also appreciated that they were at the end of the chapters rather than in the back of the book. (I wish publishers of academic works would cease from the pointless practice of sticking the endnotes in the back of the book. In fact, what's wrong with footnotes?)
Since Van Wagoner has written the book, much has happened in Mormon polygamy, including the public arrest and trial of one Utah polygamist who, I believe, was prosecuted thanks to the Salt Lake Olympics. I have known some Utah polygamists who hold to the very ideas officially believed by Mormons before 1890 (or 1904). In fact, they believe that the LDS Church is apostate because its leaders changed a vital doctrine of Mormonism. I would almost have to side with them in their contention that their version is much more authentic and closer in origin to the pure Mormonism as explained by Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, among others. Polygamy is an ugly business, though, as I have seen firsthand some of the situations with which current polygamists have to deal. I recommend this book for anyone who wants to get a clearer picture of polygamy in America, especially as it was historically believed by the LDS Church.