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Elder Statesman: A Biography of J. Reuben Clark Hardcover – April 15, 2002

3.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

U.S. State Department Solicitor, Undersecretary of State, and Ambassador to Mexico--J. Reuben Clark was all of these prior to his call to the LDS First Presidency. As a counselor to three church presidents--Heber J. Grant, George Albert Smith, and David O. McKay--he served longer than any other member of this highest church council.

Already controversial before he assumed his church duties, his blunt, independent style created even more ripples at LDS headquarters. Still, his impact, intellectually and administratively, was immense. His most important legacy was the professionalization of church government. Where apostles and presidents previously met and decided issues based mostly on their collective years of experience, Clark drew from his secular training to introduce outside research, position papers, and extended discussion, all of which (for better or worse) added to the church’s bureaucracy.

"Reube," or "Ruby," as he was known, was born in Grantsville, Utah, in 1871. By eighteen, having exhausted what opportunities there were for him there, he moved to Salt Lake City and began his academic career. He graduated from the University of Utah as his class’s valedictorian, and his intellectual gifts carried him from there through Columbia Law School and on to the State Department.

In this impressive study of the "elder statesman," as reporters often labeled him, D. Michael Quinn considers what it meant for a Latter-day Saint to attain such national and international stature, while never losing sight of Reuben’s very human qualities either. This fresh, intimate approach presents Reuben on his own terms, drawing readers into Reuben’s world in the context of the larger society of his time and place.

About the Author

D. Michael Quinn (Ph.D., history, Yale University) is an Affiliated Scholar at the University of Southern California’s Center for Feminist Research. He has been a full-time researcher and writer, a professor of history at Brigham Young University, and a visiting professor of history (2002-03) at Yale. His accolades include Best Book awards from the American Historical Association and the Mormon History Association.

His major works include Early Mormonism and the Magic World ViewElder Statesman: A Biography of J. Reuben Clark, the two-volume Mormon Hierarchy series (Origins of PowerExtensions of Power), and Same-Sex Dynamics among Nineteenth-Century Americans: A Mormon Example. He is the editor of The New Mormon History: Revisionist Essays on the Past and a contributor to American National Biography;Encyclopedia of New York StateFundamentalisms and Society: Reclaiming the Sciences, the Family, and Education; the New Encyclopedia of the American WestUnder an Open Sky: Rethinking America’s Western Past; and others.

He has also received honors—fellowships and grants—from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Henry E. Huntington Library, Indiana-Purdue University, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. In addition, he has been a keynote speaker at the Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture, the Chicago Humanities Symposium, Claremont Graduate University, University of Paris (France), Washington State Historical Society, and elsewhere, and a consultant for television documentaries carried by the Arts and Entertainment Channel, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the History Channel, and the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS).

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Signature Books; 1 edition (April 15, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1560851554
  • ISBN-13: 978-1560851554
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 2.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,703,111 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Elder Statesman: A Biography Of J. Reuben Clark by D. Michael Quinn is a thorough, solid, detailed and exhaustively comprehensive portrayal of Mormon church leader J. Reuben Clark. Amazingly informative and candid presented Elder Statesman is an outstanding biography that ranges from Clark's brush with atheism (one which he resolved by deciding that belief may be irrational yet is essential), to his view of African-Americans (he was once responsible for segregating blood donations by color), yet he was also one of the first of the Mormon hierarchy to advocate priesthood for African-Americans among the Latter-Day Saints. Elder Statesman is a most revealing and fascinating biographical study, and highly recommended reading for those with an interest in Mormon Studies.
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Format: Hardcover
Michael Quinn is without a doubt the most objective biographer of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and its members who is currently alive. Quinn's books are always well-researched. It should be noted that Quinn has paid his dues for his committment to honest history. He was excommunicated some years ago by the Church. Nothing, though, has caused Quinn to give up either objective scholarship or a painstaking committment to telling the truth.
"Elder Statesman" is the biography of a famous LDS church leader, J. Reuben Clark. Clark had a fascinating career. He began life in small town in Utah in the nineteenth century. His intellectual talents carried him to the University of Utah, Columbia University Law School, the United States Department of State and finally to a position as United States Ambassador to Mexico. Clark obviously had immense intellectual and mental gifts to get where he did in life.
At this point, Clark was called to serve as Second Counselor to LDS Church President Heber J. Grant. During the next 29 years, Grant served as both second and first counselor in the administrations of Heber J. Grant, George Albert Smith, and finally, David O. McKay. He brought to these positions tremendous administrative talents. This era was an extremely important time for the church. The groundwork was laid for the tremendous expansion of the Church that occurred and is still occurring.
Quinn points out failings in Clark as a person. By present day standards he was extremely racist, even demanding that Utah hospitals segregate the blood of African Americans from others. Clark was also hostile to Jews and opposed the entry of the USA into the Second World War.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a revision of an earlier work by Quinn on the same subject and whatever additions were made (I have not read the earlier edition) are imperceptible to the first time reader. In my view, this is a first class biography in style and depth of documentation. Quinn's footnotes take up approximate 20% of the book (a Quinn trademark). Other biographies of Mormon leaders have been undertaken as much to sustain the faithful as to reveal something about their subject. Elder Statesman still manages to sustain the faithful by faithfully and honestly revealing to us the complexity of a brilliant man, the nature of his faith and the effect of the times and culture from which he sprang. Possibly more interesting for me was the peep behind the curtain of 20th century Mormon church's leadership and bureaucracy and the personal dimensions of the interaction between beloved church leaders. Some might be disturbed at the ambiguity this reveals, particularly in a church that reveres these men as prophets, seers and revelators, but I rather found it inspiring to see the real human sweat that has gone into building the modern church of some 12 million members and a disproportionate influence in the US and the world. These men were not immune or disconnected from the great issues of their day such as progressivism, communism, war, civil rights and the role of the US in the world. It is all deeply fascinating, like finding a new dimension to a painting you though you knew so well.
Because other people will no doubt mention it, Clark, like most men of his generation and background, was a racist and anti-semite. Quinn does not leave it at that though--we learn to understand where such attitudes arose from and admire the moral and intellectual stature of a man who could begin to overcome such deeply-ensconced prejudices.
If you are a serious student of Mormon history, you MUST read this book. If not, read it anyways.
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Format: Hardcover
I feel that it is dishonest to present this book as an unbiased look at this great man. It should be known that the author is an excommunicated anti-mormon and all claims in this book should be looked at with the knowledge that it is most likely slanted in an unfriendly light whenever it is possible. I do not believe many of the claims in this book. Just keep in mind that it is written by a man with an agenda and is far from unbiased.
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