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The Mormon Menace: Violence and Anti-Mormonism in the Postbellum South Hardcover – February 16, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


". . . Patrick Mason has made a valuable contribution to the field of Mormon studies. The Mormon Menace is a fine illustration of just how successful contemporary scholarship on Mormon history has been in moving beyond older conceptual models focused primarily on Utah and the West. . . well researched and thoughtfully written."--Utah Historical Quarterly

"Mason illuminates relatively unknown episodes in southern history and finds relevant meaning for Mormons, the South, and the nation as a whole."--Journal of Southern Religion

"Written with flair and intelligence, this book finds large themes in the activity of Mormon itinerant ministers in the late 19th-century American South and provides new and valuable insights about religion and violence, second generation Mormonism, and postbellum white culture in the American South. Patrick Mason, one of the best of the new generation of LDS scholars, uses the case study of Mormon missionaries to look at the post-Civil War American South. He takes another step in the increasing maturity of Mormon studies, as old and narrow views are replaced with mainstream methods and ideas. He gives his topic a fresh look, and the result is a valuable new view of the Mormon role in the American experience. Mormonism becomes a case study for studying the values, religion, and violence of the postbellum American South." --Ronald Walker, author of Massacre at Mountain Meadows

"Patrick Mason tells an adventurous and violent story in this account of Mormon lynchings in the nineteenth-century South. His careful dissection of these bloody events leads us deep into the southern mentality and the contentious images of Mormonism in America. He finds the southern experience even reshaped Mormonism's view of itself. No reader will come away from this book feeling entirely comfortable." --Richard Bushman, Gouverneur Morris Professor of History, Emeritus, Columbia University

"A deeply researched, clearly written analysis of an almost unknown aspect of southern and religious history. It fills an important gap in scholarship and by so doing illuminates a wide variety of interpretative issues in both fields. This perceptive and creatively conceived study should be widely read and the author applauded for realizing the significance of a hitherto neglected topic." --John Boles, William P. Hobby Professor of History, Rice University

"The Mormom Menace is a good book, well-researched and thoughtfully written"--Brandon Johnson, Bristow, Virginia

"'The Mormon Menace' exemplifies the historical analysis at its best-careful consideration of cultural contexts, both past and present, thus making our history not only understandable, but extremely relevant."--Blair Dee Hodges, Association for Mormon Letters

"A review would be incomplete without mentioning that the book is a pleasure to read. Mason has command of facts and details but nonetheless manages to keep the narrative moving without getting bogged down in minutiae."--Mark Brown, Common Consent

"Mason's excellent analysis of the complexities that result when political agendas, regional norms and interests, and theories on the proper role and limits of government all collide in the face of religious heterodoxy."--Terryl L. Givens. University of Richmond

"The Mormon Menace is surprisingly captivating, and at an affordable price...Mason should be commended for telling this tale in such a spirited and engaging manner."--Jonathan Yeager

"...excellent analysis of the complexities that result when political agendas, regional norms and interests, and theories on the proper role and limits of goverment all collide in the face of religious heterodoxy." -- Church History

"Overall, this book serves as a detailed model of the prevalence of religious intolerance not only in the history of the American South but also the history of the larger nation. Mormon Menace stands as a needed intervention to explore exactly how many anti-religious movements become defining features of American nationalism."--Religion Matters

"Mormon Menace makes several contributions...The lasting significance of Mormon Menace, I believe, will be in the timeless issues that Mason has identified as being at the heart of southern persecution against Mormons."--BYU Studies Quarterly

"Mason's volume stands as a valuable and rewarding contribution by any measure. Historians of the American South, American religions, and Mormonism will be grateful for it. Portions would work well in any undergraduate classroom, and it will provide graduate seminars in a variety of fields with rich conversation pieces.' --Nova Religio

"Mason's book models even-handed scholarship that is sensitive to both southerners and Mormons. It neither generalizes nor homogenizes its male subjects. Though less about Mormonism than American culture, this monograph makes a tremendous contribution to the vibrant field of Mormon studies. Moreover, given Mormonism's re-emerging cultural presence and the ongoing negotiation of its cultural boundaries, this is a timely work that is likely to endure as a significant and learned assessment of accommodation and compulsion within the dynamic 'boundaries of American tolerance.'"--American Historical Review

"Those troubled by the possibility of a Mitt Romney presidency invoked rhetoric of America as a Christian nation, differentiating between the fitness of Mormon and evangelical Christian candidates to lead the United States. Patrick Mason's The Mormon Menace arrived as a serendipitous entry into this debate, analyzing an important but largely unknown chapter in the long tradition of American especially powerful example of the tension between American belief and practice."--Journal of Religion

"The Mormon Menace is a nuanced investigation that will be of interest to historians of the South, scholars of Mormon studies, and those interested in intergroup conflict."--The Historian

"Well-written and assiduously reasearched...The Mormon Menace is an important book that should be read by scholars seeking a deeper understanding of the postbellum South."--The Journal of the Southern History

"This is a welcome addition to the growing literature on Mormonism, especially in light of what some have called the 'Mormon moment.'"--Religious Studies Review

About the Author

Patrick Q. Mason is Research Associate Professor at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame, and Associate Director for Research of an interdisciplinary research initiative entitled Contending Modernities: Catholic, Muslim, Secular.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (February 16, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019974002X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199740024
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 1 x 6.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,279,837 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Patrick Mason is Howard W. Hunter Chair of Mormon Studies at Claremont Graduate University. He graduated from Brigham Young University with a BA in history, and from the University of Notre Dame with MA degrees in history and international peace studies and a PhD in American history. Before joining the faculty at Claremont, he taught at Notre Dame and the American University in Cairo. He conducts research on areas including anti-Mormonism; Mormonism and politics; Mormonism, war, and peace; and American religious history.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By chmoody on May 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In the interests of full disclosure, I am personally acquainted with the author and have the utmost respect for his scholarship. In addition, I am Mormon myself, I lived in the south from 1989-2000, and I have a religion degree. I also have at least one ancestor, a great-great grandfather, who served in the Southern States mission in the 1890s. I really enjoyed this book. Prior to reading it, I didn't know any of the details of anti-Mormon activity in the South in the period, but I was confident that there had been some. I was startled to learn the specifics of the violence because it was new to me, but at the same time it was not surprising. I had much more sympathy with the anti-Mormon position of many southerners than I expected. Crossing the line into violence and murder lost the sympathy, though. I was entertained by some of the elaborate mental hoops being jumped through by both Mormons and those who railed against them. Patrick Mason's work magnifies a little known segment of history and places it in a helpful broader context of what was happening on the national scene at the time. I will be passing my copy on to other members of my family, and no doubt they will also enjoy it.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Matthew R. Lee on September 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover
For more than a century, the story of the Latter-day Saint experience in the Southeastern United States has been dominated by the voices of nineteenth and early twentieth-century Mormon missionaries. The writings and sermons of men like Matthias F. Cowley, Rudger Clawson, George Albert Smith, John Morgan, and J. Golden Kimball, together with the experiences of hundreds of other returned missionaries, forged the connection between Mormon identity and anti-Mormon violence in the Southern States. Beyond the republication of these accounts, and a handful of related articles and dissertations, it seems the South holds little interest for students of Mormon history.

Patrick Q. Mason's "The Mormon Menace" begins to pull back the curtain on this long neglected subject. He does so by presenting the wider story of anti-Mormon violence in the Postbellum South, 1876 -1900, in the social and political context it deserves. His examination and acknowledgment of multi-layer factors contributing to white southern violence doesn't justify the acts, but it reveals the likelihood that in many cases, violent encounters were inevitable.

The collapse of the Confederacy as a result of the Civil War and the difficulty of Reconstruction facilitated a less than tolerant environment for existing minorities and new outsiders. When Mormon missionaries arrived in force in the 1870s they didn't come to add to the South; they came to take from the South. Their message was not subtle. The goal was conversion and preparation for permanent departure to colonies in the West.

Acceptance of Mormon Christianity ultimately led to the severing of lifelong multi-generational relationships among hundreds of southern families.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By allyson on January 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Well researched and written, this book adeptly constructs a portrait of postbellum religious bigotry and violence that both adds to the scholarly discussion and is approachable for all readers.
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