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Comment: Edition: 2nd Revised & enlarged; Book is in very good condition with minor wear to cover, tight binding. Highlighting exists within this book.
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No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith Paperback – August 1, 1995

4.0 out of 5 stars 314 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

The first paperback edition of the classic biography of the founder of the Mormon church, this book attempts to answer the questions that continue to surround Joseph Smith. Was he a genuine prophet, or a gifted fabulist who became enthralled by the products of his imagination and ended up being martyred for them? 24 pages of photos. Map.

About the Author

The late Brodie was professor of history at the University of California, Los Angeles
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 2nd Revised & enlarged edition (August 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679730540
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679730545
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (314 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #30,942 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I've consummed a library of books on Mormon studies, and had held off on reading "No Man Knows My History" because I had already read a considerable quantity of biographical material on Joseph Smith. I capitulated at last only because it is among the most well known books on early Mormon history. I am so glad I did. No book could have pulled it all together and made sense of it all as well as Fawn Brodie's book. It is as valuable today as it was when it was first written over half a century ago. None of the objective scholarship of recent years contradicts her conclusions, but rather validates her, page after page after page. Her insight is piercing, her style is almost poetic, and her message is powerful.
It is not any easy book for a Mormon to read, as is evidenced by some of the reactionary attacks Brodie receives in some of the reviews already written. The faithful do not want to hear that Joseph Smith was an "evolutionary revolutionary," his doctrine growing with his ego and sense of personal magnificence. But this is no mean swipe at the character of Joseph Smith...if anything, you come away with a sense of awe at the creative genius, the charismatic giant that he must have been. If he brought scorn and violence upon himself and his people, it was a measure of the power he produced and the fear that he struck in lesser men with whom he shared his time and space. Nevertheless, Brodie's exploration of the world of Joseph Smith and the context within which his doctrine evolved is brilliant. She is adept at recognizing the role that projection has played throughout his career, beginning with the Book of Mormon, and continuing on through all of his other writings, including the History of the Church. Ms.
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Format: Paperback
After hearing about the "controversial" nature of this book amongst my peers and how "horribly" written it was I decided I would read it for myself.

Needless to say I was enthralled from the very beginning of the book. I found the book and the subject matter fascinating. I had expected the book to have a clear bias, but I felt Brodie presented the information very fairly and in a suprisingly unbiased way... oftentimes giving both perspectives and the information where both sides claims come from (i.e. she'll present people's claims that Joseph Smith was a moneydigger and occultist, and than show the court documents where he was on trial for doing so, and than she would show the other side's argument.).

In fact the only part of the book that I felt had a truly negative biased tone was the "afterword" that was added several years after the author's excommunication.

In the end though, I would have to say that the part I enjoyed most about the book was that it not only gave a detailed account of Joseph Smith, but of other church history figures such as Sidney Rigdon, Brigham Young, John D. Lee, etc. I felt like a picture of what life was like back then was painted.

Granted true blue Mormons will be offended when reading this book because they haven't heard anything but the filtered down version, AND they will gnash their teeth and bash on Fawn Brodie... BUT give her a break! It was the first biography of its kind and it was written in the 40's for heaven sakes. All the teeth gnashing looks ridiculous as if you're trying too hard to prove your obedience and faith.

A good product will sell itself, and this book has sold suprisingly well despite being restricted to a small fraction of the world who actually knows what a "mormon" or who "Joseph Smith" was. I enjoyed the book very much, thank you Fawn Brodie.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you are a mormon and you read this there is no doubt it will change your view of your church forever. Many have read it and gained or lost faith in Joseph Smith as a prophet but none will finish this book without a closer understanding of what kind of a guy he was and what made him tick. Brodie had such unprecedented access to official church historical records and wrote such an honest portrayal that it changed the face of mormon historical writing forever (essentially the LDS church locked the archives forever). I was a mormon for 15 years before reading this book and I was learning things we were never taught about JS on every page. Do yourself a favor, just read it.

Pros:
- Unparalleled detail into Joseph Smith's life, personality and death.
- Well sourced and very easy to corroborate sources.
- Decades later still the most honest source on JS.

Cons:
- Many mormons will avoid this book because they believe it is "anti" literature. What a shame to skip such a profound work.
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Although published in 1946, this book remains the definitive biography of the Mormon "prophet" Joseph Smith, Jr. Fawn Brodie's research and detailed footnotes make this an excellent reference book. Ms. Brodie was the grand-daughter of the president of Brigham Young University and niece of the "prophet" David McKay. This gave her unprecidented access to Mormon documents unavailable to nonMormon writers and historians. This is a book for those interested in history. It is absolutely facinating and makes history fun to read. Sadly, Ms. Brodie,s honest exploration of the life of Joseph Smith, Jr. led to her being excommunicated from the Mormon church. However, she has preserved historical truth for future generations. This a a must book for every student of American history or religion.
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