This is one of my favorite books about late nineteenth/early twentieth century Utah. Cannon's book is almost a memoir, and yet it is a history as well. With intimate detail, Frank J. Cannon, a one time U.S. senator from Utah, describes his life-long interaction with the LDS hierarchy which included his own father, Apostle George Q. Cannon.
A young Mormon growing up as part of an elite LDS family, he initially works on behalf of the Church and its causes, particularly during the polygamy raids of the late nineteenth century. At one point he acts as a special envoy for the Church, meeting with New York Governor Sanford and his wife to convince Sanford to accept an offer to replace Justice Zane of the Utah Supreme Court. The Church leadership had hoped that if Sanford replaced Justice Zane, he would be more lenient on the many Brethren who continued in post-manifesto polygamy.
Many times Cannon writes openly about his discouragement and frustration with the authoritarian control that the LDS Brethren had over the Mormon and even non-Mormon residents of the State. He particularly addresses the economics and politics of early Utah. He comments on interesting and relevant portions of Joseph F. Smith's testimony at the Reed Smoot Congressional confirmation hearings. The reader will learn about some of the rarely revealed back-story involving relationships between the LDS Church and national political and business leaders.
It is a shame this man and his experiences aren't celebrated or even discussed in the public school Utah history classes required for Utah middle school students. The book is short, but very well-written and very enlightening to those of us who have grown up with a whitewashed version of Utah history.
Kay Burningham, Author, "An American Fraud:one Lawyer's Case Against Mormonism."