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Predators, Prey, and Other Kinfolk: Growing Up in Polygamy Hardcover – Bargain Price, June 30, 2003

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Hardcover, Bargain Price, June 30, 2003
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--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Editorial Reviews Review

The abduction of teenager Elizabeth Smart by a fundamentalist Mormon preacher placed a renewed focus on renegade offshoots of the Church of Latter Day Saints and the culture surrounding the religion in the state of Utah (which, like the church, formally opposes polygamous marriage, though state and religious leaders both seem well aware that the practice continues, and they often turn a blind eye toward it). Like Natalie R. Collins's 2003 novel SisterWife, Dorothy Allred Solomon's Predators, Prey, and Other Kinfolk couldn't seem more topical, but it is an even more powerful book because it has the weight of truth behind it. "I am the daughter of my father's fourth plural wife, twenty-eight of forty-eight children—a middle kid, you might say," her frank memoir begins, and Solomon (a freelance writer who now lives in a happily monogamous marriage in Park City, Utah) maintains a similarly gripping and poignant tone through the book. Her family's story is a fascinating one: Her father, the physician Rulon Allred, was also a fundamentalist preacher and a closet polygamist who went to great lengths to keep his plural marriages and sprawling family a secret from society at large. In 1977, he was shot to death by assassins from a rival fundamentalist sect, the bloody end to a misguided lifestyle that had already taken a severe emotional toll on many around him. His daughter does not hesitate to expose the violent and sexist behavior that permeates many of these cultish offshoots of the Mormon Church, but she does not reduce the believers to one-dimensional caricatures, either, and in the process of sharing a very personal tale, she often steps back to place it all in the much broader context of religion and society, charting the history of the Mormons and the contradictions between ideals and actions on the part of both church and state. --Jim DeRogatis --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Solomon's work is far from the sometimes maddeningly prosaic crowd of memoirs by people recounting small triumphs and plain glories. As the 28th of 48 children born to a polygamist, Solomon tells her astonishing tale with so much emotional clarity and raw honesty that the Utah dirt she played in seems wedged between the pages. Because this is a story about Solomon's staggeringly large family, she launches into a great deal of family history, tracing the clan's polygamist past and recounting the recriminations and threats of arrest that color each generation. She describes her father, Rulon Allred, with a subtle combination of attraction and repulsion, giving polygamy a human face while showing how flawed that countenance can be. This long way around to Solomon's own story can be plodding at times, but when she begins to lay bare her personal history, the book crackles with new life. The writing style, a gentle cadence full of detail, serves the story well, as when the author, who was born in 1949, describes her family as being like the deer in the mountains above Salt Lake valley: "For the most part, we were shy, gentle creatures who kept to ourselves, ruminants chewing on our private theology, who dealt with aggression by freezing or running." As Solomon tells of the struggles of the five wives her father had, and the hard times they endured as the authorities sought to enforce antipolygamy laws, she delves deeply into matters of identity, belonging, persecution and independence.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • ISBN-10: 0393049469
  • ASIN: B000HWYI1I
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,039,264 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

'I am the only daughter of my father's fourth plural wife, twenty-eighth of forty-eight children'a middle kid, you might say, with a middle kid's propensity for identity crisis.' This first line from chapter one of Daughter of the Saints defines my place in the family constellation and the dilemmas I've faced throughout my life. I believe I've had a happier childhood than most people; nonetheless my family was plagued by secrecy and lies, by poverty and the threat of prison and government raids. I was unable to reconcile the inequities and illegalities of the polygamous lifestyle and broke with the fundamentalist group to marry my high school sweetheart. Now, nearly forty years and four children and a growing number of grandchildren later, I know that monogamy can be as challenging as polygamy seemed to be, and that happiness is a do-it-yourself project. My husband, a Vietnam veteran, has been an example of courage and commitment in the face of discouraging odds, and he has inspired me to keep on the path of purpose.
I have worked as a transformational trainer with Lifespring, Rising Star Communication Training, VisionWorks and Emerald City, designing and delivering communication seminars for corporations, small businesses, organizations, families, couples, adults, teens and children. I conduct life coaching programs for various clients who inspire and thrill me with their success. I've always written and I've always loved writing, except when I hate it. I've published the following books: In My Father's House, which won first prize for biography in the Utah State Writing Contest and the Publisher's Prize; Inside Out: A Guide to Creative Writing in the Classroom; Predators, Prey, and Other Kinfolk (hardbound) and Daughter of the Saints which also won first prize in the Utah State Writing Contest and also won the WILLA for memoir in 2004; and The Sisterhood: Inside the Lives of Mormon Women, due for publication in 2007. I've also published essays, articles, stories and books in various magazines and journals, receiving a variety of awards and honors, including a Sigma Delta Chi award, an award from the American Academy of Pediatrics, and a Governor's Media Award for Excellence. I am a happier and a better person when I'm writing than when I am not.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 23, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I thought this book was fantastic. In a very human way, it fills a huge gap in what I knew about Mormon History and present-namely, what happened to the tens of thousands of polygamous families when the church shifted from pro-polygamy to anti-polygamy, and who are the tens of thousands of modern-day polygamists and what is their relationship to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The mainstream church teaches that Joseph Smith wrote down a revelation regarding polygamy in 1843, but that he had started practicing it well before then, but never recorded who his "wives" were, nor when they were "married." Then Brigham Young and the Saints in Utah had a whole bunch of wives and were honest and upfront about it. The federal government had a massive clampdown on the lifestyle, and in 1890 the church issued a "manifesto" stating that the church no longer taught nor encouraged the continuance of the doctrine. The way the church teaches it, the people who were in polygamous marriages simply ceased to exist as soon as the manifesto was decreed.
We learn in the book that a few days before the manifesto was issued, the president of the Church, Wilford Woodruff, called Dorothy's grandfather into his office. He gave him a calling to move to Mexico and establish a colony there were Mormon Polygamists could legally live their religion. Her grandfather went, but between the lawlessness of the country and inhospitable climate, they could not survive and were forced to return to America. A few events transpired were his viewpoint collided with that of the mainstream church-in addition to having abandoned plural marriage, the Church had drifted away from the spirit of the United Order and Law of Consecration.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Stephanie Manley VINE VOICE on December 30, 2003
Format: Hardcover
What could potentially be a seedy novel that pokes fun of a segment of society that is on the fringe turns into an almost heart warming story of growing up in an unusual family setting. She writes with a conversational style describing her very different family, growing up with many syblings, and several mothers.
What comes through this book that while polygamy may have an appeal for some, it really comes packed with many loaded issues. Multiple wives creates multiple issues. Logistically speaking it is difficult to support seven wives, and many children. While her father was a doctor, several of the wives worked out of the home to help support the family, and those that were not working out of the home worked constantly trying to keep up with laundry, cooking, and cleaning.
Her life was wrought with hiding their family secret, as it is still illegal to have so many wives. Only children of the first wife are legally recognized as being legitimate. Their lives were not easy, and growing up in the church left them often with marrying early to continue this cycle.
This book is definatly worth a read! Its definately not the simple tale you think it might be.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By C. Miller on October 20, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Dorothy Allred Solomon's honest, telling account of growing up in a fundamentalist Mormon family is both intriguing and disturbing. She pieces together a detailed family history from genealogical records and firsthand journals, careful to include and identify sometimes alarming behavior and inconsistencies in all of them, and offers an insight into what it was like growing up in a polygamist family as one of 48 children born to a naturopathic physician and his seven wives. At the center of this sprawling clan is her father, Rulon Allred, a complicated man whose single-minded devotion to living the "Principle of Plural Marriage" binds the family together, tears them apart, and ultimately leads to his demise.
What is remarkable about Allred Solomon's writing is that although she includes her comments and opinions, she steers clear of turning her fringe-society family into a cast of caricatures or one-dimensional religious zealots. While she obviously disagrees with polygamy--a belief she began to form at a very early age--she does not condemn those who practice it out of hand. (But she does express disgust at the sight of much older men sizing up young girls as prospective wives.) However, she is careful to include the devastating affects polygamous marriages have on those who enter into or result from them. Her own mother (her father's fourth wife, and twin sister of his third) suffered numerous nervous breakdowns, which Allred Solomon seems to attribute to her despair over sharing her husband with six other women, her "sisterwives" who, along with the children, refer to their husband as "Daddy.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Blue Devil on July 25, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Dorothy Allred Solomon has created a work of extraordinary beauty and insight. Her description of the trials and tribulations, but also the joys, of being raised in a family that adheres to the early Mormon practice of plural marriage is one of the most powerful explorations of family and gender relations I have ever read.

This book has particular personal meaning for me because I grew up knowing many descendants and relatives of Rulon Allred, the author's father and the patriarch around whom her family and religious upbringing were based. Solomon achieves something that I think many readers will struggle to understand: she writes about her life in polygamy without trying to force a simplistic moral judgment onto her father and his legacy. Although she herself has abandoned polygamy and expresses many criticisms of its effects on those around her, especially its effects on women, she also holds many loving and happy memories and refuses to issue a blanket condemnation of her upbringing.

As an outsider looking in at friends and acquaintances who live in this same faith community, I have also (albeit to a much smaller extent) experienced Solomon's struggle between the desire to criticize Rulon Allred's form of polygamy for its often negative effects on those who live it and the desire to protect and defend its practitioners from the equally hurtful judgments and intolerance forced upon them by a hostile and even hateful outside world, a world that mocks and refuses to acknowledge any virtue in a lifestyle emphasizing the bonds of faith and family.

As she explores this tension between condemnation and affirmation of her past, her father, and her religion, Solomon offers readers a glimpse into an intensely personal world of doubt, pain, jealousy, and above all love. Her work allows us to judge that world, but demands that we understand it as well.
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