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There is out there somewhere a ubiquitous person(or firm?) using the nom de plume of Messrs. "Charles River Editors," whoever he (or they) may be. This particular book is apparently not copyrighted, but it does have 177 footnotes, not an unusual number for books by Mr. Editors.
Not that I have any problem with Charles. He provides many books that can be copied to Kindle for free [I downloaded this one from Amazon/Kindle on Dec. 13 for $0.00]. Charles' books are usually full of more dry facts than seem necessary, and he consequently often loses the "big picture." Fortunately, Charles does not editorialize much, thereby leaving his readers to draw conclusions.
"The Leaders of the Mormons" left me with a few subjective observations about the Mormon religion and its founders, viz,
* Joseph Smith (1805-1844) was something of a nutcase. Among other evidence is the fact that he confabulated a new religion based not on history or existing theology, but on visits paid to him (only in his "visions," mind you) by God's delegate, an imaginary fellow whom he dubbed "Moroni." Smith was "revered as a prophet on the level of Moses by some [and] reviled as a perpetrator of large-scale fraud by others" This reviewer leans toward the latter description, although "fraud" implies an intent to deceive - and there is not much evidence that Smith expected any personal gain (other than a harem) by preaching his unconventional new religion.
Today, Smith would no doubt be dismissed as a harmless schizophrenic, but things were different in nineteenth-century America: "The region [Utah] was filled with the type of people who responded well to religious guidance, comprised mainly of the rural, the uneducated, and the superstitious.Read more ›
I agree with the other reviewer (there is only one other as I write this) that the writer of this "biography" either started out with a preconceived notion of Joseph Smith being a fraud who was just looking for attention and power, or he deliberately avoided seeking any written accounts, of which there are many, by people who actually knew JS and believed him to be what he claimed; an instrument in the hands of God. While there is nothing blatantly false in this compilation and the author documents legitimate references, he also puts his own spin on the facts, making JS appear as a lunatic throughout the entire work. If you are a Latter-Day Saint, there is no information in this account that you do not already know and you may find the author's perspective offensive or at the very least extremely biased. I didn't bother finishing the book, so I don't know if he treated Brigham Young any more kindly, but since it was pretty basic information that can be found in any history book, I did not care to continue reading this person's perspective on the beginning of a respectable religion that today has over 14 million members; quite a lot of people to continue being duped by a crazy person (as this author's perspective seems to imply) who lived over 150 years ago.
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