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An Intimate Chronicle: The Journals of William Clayton Paperback – May 15, 1995
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The collection of journals kept between 1840 and 1853 by William Clayton, personal secretary to Joseph Smith (founder of the Mormon Church), which was originally published amid some controversy as a limited edition in 1991, is here made available for the first time as a one-volume trade edition. Clayton was a meticulous diarist (probably too meticulous for the taste of most general readers) who was close to Joseph Smith and Brigham Young at the beginning of the polygamy controversy, and he accompanied Young on the westward expedition from Nauvoo, Illinois, that blazed the Mormon trail to Salt Lake City. The journals, along with the editor's excellent historical introduction and extensive notes, will be particularly relevant to readers with a specific interest in Mormon Church history, but they also provide a fascinating glimpse into nineteenth-century frontier life that may merit a broader readership. Steve Schroeder
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He is very detailed in his journal, yet it almost reads like a story. The highlights include: Doing missionary work with some of the early church leaders including Brigham Young in England. His trip to America is tragic, with sickness and disease killing some of the passengers. The mormon voyagers join in "faith" with the belief they can "hold on" to those who are dying if they just can believe strong enough... they end up dissappointed. You get a real sense of the stength of their belief and the conviction of those willing to leave England for Zion. Upon arriving in Nauvoo he describes his conversations with Joseph Smith. He alludes to his early introduction to polygamy, when most in the church did not know it was being practiced. He marries a number of wives, and mentions many of Joseph's plural marraiges. The political issues facing the Saints are discussed, as well as the efforts to go West. He describes the sacrifice in preparing the Nauvoo temple, and has a month or more dedicated to describing the endowment of the Saints before leaving West. He gives a description of the organization of the pioneers when going west, and his own journey accross the plains. What I found very funny was the popularity of the mormon band as they travelled. Cities would pay the Mormon band (of which Clayton was a member) to play for them, and this helped fund the trip. I would recommend the book to anyone who wants to delve into the details of the early church practice and belief. What is so fun about history is seeing the world through someone else's eyes. His life was great and I really enjoyed the book.