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Wife No. 19 (Cosimo Classics) Paperback – July 1, 2010

4.2 out of 5 stars 205 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Ann Eliza Young (nee Webb) (1844 - date unknown) was one of Brigham Young's fifty-five wives and later a critic of polygamy. She spoke out against the suppression of women and was an advocate for women's rights during the 19th century.
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Product Details

  • Series: Cosimo Classics
  • Paperback: 630 pages
  • Publisher: Cosimo Classics (July 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616403101
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616403102
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (205 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,800,045 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Autobiographies of polygamist women who leave the faith in the 19th century are hard to find and I treasure this one. The book is written by Ann Eliza Webb, wife of Brigham Young, who leaves the faith and exposes the world of Mormon polygamy. Many women were victims to the abusive "highest principle" of the Mormon faith.

I have trouble reading some of the negative reviews from people calling this victim "disgruntled" or expecting too much from her marriage. Here is a woman who was born & raised into a polygamous family and indoctrinated into a religion that teaches she will be damned to hell if she leaves the church, and makes unimaginable sacrifices in living her religion. She was brave enough to escape and apostatize from the faith, losing her eternal salvation and even risking her life.

It's interesting that a victim of religious coerced polygamy has her story labeled as fiction and lies by some reviewers. Would these same Mormons judge the current FLDS polygamist women who escape and tell their stories as liars and disgruntled?

What I found fascinating was her steadfast faith in God, despite the indoctrination she was forced to deprogram herself from. She spent the rest of her life educating the public about the abuse of living in the culture of 19th century Mormon polygamy.

This is not a book for exact historical dates or statements (she is not a historian) but an excellent book for what polygamy was really like for the women behind closed doors. The messages they gave in public forums were for the church and encouraged by the leaders. Having a first hand account of living "the principle" in 19th century Mormonism makes this book very unique.

I highly recommend the books "Mormon Polygamy" by Richard Van Wagoner or "In Sacred Loneliness" by Todd Compton for further information on Mormon Polygamy.
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Format: Paperback
Ann Eliza Young was a 19th century LDS woman who was born into the second generation of Mormon polygamy. One of the most heart-wrenching parts of the book recounts how her mother heartbrokenly went from being her father's only wife for years before polygamy was introduced, to being only one of his wives, after church leaders pushed polygamy on their congregation.

Mrs. Young (she was married to Brigham Young himself) finally decided to escape and speak out against the polygamist lifestyle she and so many other women in her community found devastating. Although the book was written well over a century ago, it exposes many of the same problems as contemporary polygamy memoirs (such as Escape, Shattered Dreams and His Favorite Wife, all of which I recommend). These are:

1. The lower status of women in polygamist society;

2. Men (even wealthy men) who do not provide financially for their huge plural families;

3. Lack of education, and children pressured to quit school early and work to support and care for their father's plural families;

4. Pressure on women to marry against their will;

5. Physically and/or emotionally abusive behavior of husbands whose religion and community give them total power over their wives;

6. Husbands who dote on favorite wives while neglecting the others;

7. Unhappy households that feature intense jealousy and competition among plural wives;

8. Most of all, the profound and lasting pain felt by good, loving women whose religion and community compel them to share their husbands (they are told there is no way to heaven except through polygamy).

This is an excellent primary source about early Mormonism in general (it contains a first-generation family narrative that describes the church's history) and polygamy in particular. Highly recommended to anyone interested in either subject.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A more comprehensive, but personal, account of 19th century Mormons would be hard to achieve. The writer was, before she left the "faith", one of the wives of Brigham Young (the successor to Joseph Smith, the founder of the "religion". What she depicts in detail, from origin through the journey to "Zion" (and then the next "Zion) and finally Utah . . . is astounding indictment of human gullibility. As well as from America's East and even some affluent, from Europe hordes of people crossed the sea in steerage misery. Then to cross 2/3 of the continent in even worse conditions of exposure and attacks, the premise that this was what "The Lord decrees" and that everlasting life (after death) was their reward. This required, in part that all ownership and possession be signed over to "the church" which was really the dictated-dominion of Young.
And then came the mandate for polygamy.
What Ann Eliza Young relates is paranoid psychosis proliferating through population and profiteering and plain crime and cruelty to become an institution of vast wealth and even socio-political importance in the present.
But we should, perhaps, overlook the dishonesty, the immorality, the misogyny, the polygamy, the murders, the massacre of Mountain Meadows.
Gotta give the founding Mormons credit.
They built the temple, have the choir.
And that's accomplishment that what I'd consider a sinister-sister sect lacks. . . . . I refer to Scientology, of course.
But . . . . the above should not be condemnation of Mormons or of the Mormon institution of today. Just as the history Catholicism, that of Mormonism involves megalomania, aggrandizement, exploitation, even outright cruelty and carnage.
Before a judgement of modern Mormonism, one should read far more than this one book. But to realize the founding and foundation of the "faith",
WIFE NO. 19 is a most important reference.
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