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Orrin Porter Rockwell: Man of God, Son of Thunder Paperback – 1993
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About the Author
Harold Schindler has been associated with the Salt Lake Tribune in various capacities since 1945. Shortly after the first edition of this book was published, he became a found (and charter Vice-President) of the Utah Westerners, an organization of scholars, writers, and dedicated enthusiasts founded upon fellowship and a commin interest in the history of Utah and the heritage of the west. In 1967 Orrin Porter Rockwell was awarded the prestigious Award of Merit of the American Association for State and Local History.
Dale Bryner, whose stunning illustrations continue to enhance the narrative of this second edition, is a professor of art at Weber State College in Ogden, Utah. He is a photographer, painter and designer as well, who has worked and studied abroad during seven extended visits, including an entire year's sabbatical in Japan. Recently he has created a number of architectural glass designs for business establishments throughout the Salt Lake Valley.
Top Customer Reviews
Rockwell is a hard historical figure. He is a legendary figure whom the LDS church has tended to whitewash. Non-Mormon historians have had a tendency to villify him, making him a murderer and a theif. Somewhere, undoubtedly in the middle, lies the truth. Instead of writing an indictment or an apology for his life, Schindler writes a well-balanced account of Rockwell's life. He doesn't necessarily try to provide answers or justifications, only gives the facts and lets the reader decide. No doubt Schindler's objectivity and meticulous research has made this volume stand the test of time to become a classic in Mormon history.
I don't think I have ever said this about a book before: Probably just as engaging and interesting as the book itself are the footnotes which sometimes take up more of the page than the text. This is an awesome bibliographic reference as well. Not only does Schindler tell you about the life and times of Rockwell, he also tells many fascinating historical asides. If you don't believe or are suspcious about his research, then one may look at the documents he was viewing. Schindler does an excellent job of backing up most everything that he says.
One of Schindler's significant contributions to the landscape of Mormon history is the perspective of the "regular folks" who were cowboys, farmers, and hunters who lived close to the land, mixed with Shoshones, Utes, Gosiutes, Paiutes and others, and who were engaged in a daily fight for survival. Rockwell's life, while steeped in Mormon theology, doctrine and experience, was also one of gunfighting, saloons, Indian fighting, stagecoaches, the California Gold Rush, and everything that is so quintessentially "western." I've read a lot of Church history, and this is the first time I really got a flavor for that element.
The difficulty with this book is that it still leaves you wondering whether Rockwell was a saint, or a ruthless killer. Unfortunately for history and historians, Rockwell was himself illiterate, and so there is no personal record of his life and dealings. On the other hand, because of his reputation, there is much that was written that portrayed him as a zealous destroyer, the mercinary of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. To Schindler's credit, he doesn't draw any conclusions on the life of Rockwell...he leaves that difficult challenge up to you!
Regardless of who Rockwell was or wasn't, this is an engaging book that addresses most of the notorious "stories" that veil Rockwell in the mists of intrigue, mystery and wonder. You'll gain a fresh perspective on the rough-hewn life of pioneer times, the Wild Side of Mormondom!
The only portion of this work that I find to be somewhat incredible is that if Porter Rockwell is responsible for only half of the events, murders and heinous acts that are mentioned in this book, it seems impossible that he has avoided the notoriety that should place him in a league with the most infamous personages of the "Wild West". His cold-blooded conduct ranks him with the Daltons, Youngers or James'. His loyalty, sense of duty and shootist skills place him on a par with Bill Hickcock or Wyatt Earp. His plainsman knowledge, scouting and hunter skills liken him to William Cody. Not bad company for a figure whom doesn't have a greater fame as one of the most infamous characters in Western History. This was a very pleasant and interesting read, especially for those in search of the more authentic stories with,"...raw hide leather, bumps and bruises".
Some of the text is outdated as new information has become available, most notably the introduction, but overall it's a good read. It's a pretty balanced portrayal of Rockwell as a human being with weaknesses and peculiarities, but extraordinarily good characteristics as well. I wish there were more information about him "stealing" that woman in Nauvoo. Some of the footnotes were unclear about references, but most were very good. Be sure to read them as you go along. My favorite part was when Rockwell led the first raid on the Federal Army which seemed like a huge success but ended with the loss of all the horses of the raiding party due to a simple bugle blast. My father and I had a good laugh about that. Rockwell is the kind of fella I would have liked to know. Despite the book's flaws and age, it's still worth your time to read.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I am having trouble reading the small print so I find it difficult to read although I'm sure it is a good book. Do you offer this in a larger print for older people like me?Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
A good biography of Porter. The author tries to be even handed.Published 4 months ago by Dallan Petersen
Loved it and the man. Wonderful insight into this time in history.Published 11 months ago by Michael J Bull
In large part this is an easy-to-read and apparently well-researched account of an important figure in early Mormon history. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Porter James
Porter Rockwell man of God, Son of Thunder
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