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The Mormon People: The Making of an American Faith Hardcover

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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: n/a
  • ISBN-10: 0679644911
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679644910
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Haugh VINE VOICE on April 12, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For one not of the faith, I consider myself fairly knowledgeable about Mormonism. I grew up in Quincy, Illinois, which is where, as Mr. Bowman relates in his informative new book, the group driven out of Missouri was cared for during the harsh winter of 1838-39. I also paid a few visits to nearby Nauvoo, where I picked up more of Mormon theology and history. Most importantly, I have been fortunate enough to have Mormon friends and neighbors. Still, there is always more to know and with Mitt Romney the likely Republican nominee for President this year, Professor Bowman has recognized a need for a reader-friendly book on the history of Mormonism and has provided a nice one with The Mormon People.

Mr. Bowman begins the story with Joseph Smith in the first part of the 19th century. He is particularly good in describing the religious milieu that inspired Joseph Smith and many of his followers. He outlines the development of the early church and how the Mormons were constantly being driven from place to place until the "exodus" to Utah, led by Brigham Young. He follows the Mormon state through its admittance as a state in the United States and is once again very strong in showing the transition from an inward looking group through correlation and growth into a powerful, missionary, active people.

Some will likely complain that Mr. Bowman doesn't spend enough time with the controversies surrounding the church. He does devote a chapter to a discussion of polygamy; however, like most of the book, it is quite bloodless. It is descriptive of the theology and the political impact of polygamy but there is very little about how it affected people's lives. The multiple wives of Joseph Smith, himself, for example, get almost no mention. And yet, it seems part and parcel to what Mr.
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32 of 36 people found the following review helpful By jaybird on February 17, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This book is a great overview of the history of the LDS church in America. Particularly his chapter on Mormonism during the progressive era is wonderfully insightful. It is easy to read, and provides fascinating context to the development of how Mormons view themselves and others. The New York Times criticized how middle of the road it is, but that is the beauty of the book, in my opinion. As a Mormon I wasn't particularly interested in reading from the point of view of someone who despises my faith, but I also had no interest in reading something that wasn't historically honest. This book is both respectful and frank in how it deals with it's history. He does a beautiful job of cramming a lot of history into under 300 pages without overwhelming the reader. For those who are interested in going even deeper into Mormon Studies, the book also has a fantastic bibliography. If you want a great introduction to the history of Mormonism, this is a great place to start.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Kimberly H. Marsh on March 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This book is an easy read, with a lot of basic, albeit colorful, information on the Mormon people and the history of their religion. If you read this book, you will understand the Church as the Mormons see it, which will be to some benefit. Yet, the book seems to tell a moderately "correlated" account of the church which ignores the complications of early Mormon history, or rather, the time before 1830 (around the beginning of the book). Thus, if you are interested in a more critical book, which does not take Joseph Smith Jr.'s sincerity for granted, look elsewhere (Rough Stone Rolling, No Man Knows My History, or Mormon America). If you understand Mormonism well enough, read Harrell's This is My Doctrine: The Development of Mormon Theology (written by a BYU professor I might add, and one of the best books I've read yet). I will say that my review is tainted by a secularish bias.

I purchased the audio version of The Mormon People, and I must say that it was narrated very well. I recommend the audio version if you are considering it.
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Bryan Kerr on April 7, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This book is only 253 pages long and yet it is amazingly concise in its delivery. The book covers the beginnings of Mormonism starting with Joseph Smith, and goes through 2011, even discussing the Book of Mormon musical. Bowman is a gifted writer, and brilliant at summing up years of previous scholarship into a rather short book. This book does not come across as particularly pro-Mormon or anti-Mormon, it's just about Mormons. Some people I know found this book to be too revealing of some of Mormonism's darker past, and others wanted more "dirt." This book is not an apologetic work, it's academic and will surely become a standard text in university classes on the history of Mormons. I particularly enjoyed the sections on the progressive era, and the chapter on Correlation, the period when Mormon leaders began to streamline doctrines, manuals, and practices. If I had one thing I could change about the book it would be to add about another 50 pages; the book doesn't cover everything, no book could, but it does hit so many of the most important and interesting points in Mormon history. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the history of the LDS church.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Christopher harrison on February 27, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As a sixth generation Gay exMormon who departed from the faith over 30 years ago, I found pride in my bizarre heritage and compassion for my estranged family. I now embrace my past more fully and understand the core of who I am better because of this unbiased account.
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