It’s time for the next deal (valid through the end of tomorrow—12/20—only)—take 30% off any used biography under $100. Make sure to mention that you saw this post when you order.


To see some choices, come visit the store or check out:



Starting today, we will be offering several killer deals leading up to Christmas. Beginning with the next deal, they will be found exclusively on our website (www.benchmarkbooks.com) and on our Facebook page (http://on.fb.me/OdM3gk). Make sure to follow our webpage by entering your e-mail address in this box at the right margin of the page:


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We are kicking off the deals today by offering copies of The Crucible of Doubt: Reflections on the Quest for Faith by Terryl and Fiona Givens (published by Deseret Book) at 25% off! Like all the rest of the deals, this is valid only on the day of the offer.

Make sure to follow our webpage and like our Facebook page so you don’t miss out!

Also, as an added incentive, refer a friend to our webpage or Facebook page, have them follow or like us and you both get 20% off your next book here!



for the cause Russell Stevenson












We are pleased to announce that Russell Stevenson, author of For the Cause of Righteousness: A Global History of Blacks and Mormonism, 1830-2013 (published by Greg Kofford Books)—will be here for a lunchtime signing on Friday, Dec 19. He will be here from 11:30 to 12:30 to sign copies of his book and chat. We hope you will be able to make it but, if not, we can mail a signed copy to you or hold it for pick-up here at the store. To RSVP on Facebook, click here.

This book broaches one of the most sensitive topics in the history of Mormonism: the story of the LDS community’s turbulent relationship with the black population. For the Cause of Righteousness: A Global History of Blacks and Mormonism, 1830-2013 promises to tell a story of how an American religious community could wander through the rocky landscape of American racial politics, all while hoping to hold onto its institutional integrity in the face of attacks from both within and without. Drawing on a rich array of archival documents and oral testimonies, For the Cause of Righteousness suggests that understanding race and Mormonism requires far more than watching the movements of well-dressed men on North Temple; it calls for understanding the dynamics of global Mormon communities ranging from Mowbray to Accra, from Berkeley to Rio de Janeiro.

But as any historian will say, primary sources matter. Thus, For the Cause of Righteousness offers up not only a narrative history of the global black Mormon community but also an anthology of primary source transcripts: letters, newspaper articles, and speech transcripts, all in hopes that readers might take one more step toward understanding a story that simultaneously inspires, troubles, and urges Latter-day Saints into understanding a provincial religion that has reached global proportions.

“In Russell Stevenson’s For the Cause of Righteousness: A Global History of Blacks and Mormonism, he extends the story of Mormonism’s long-standing priesthood ban to the broader history of the Church’s interaction with blacks. In so doing he introduces both relevant atmospherics and important new context. These should inform all future discussions of this surprisingly enduring subject.”

— Lester E. Bush, author of “Mormonism’s Negro Doctrine: An Historical Overview”

Russell Stevenson is an independent historian and author of Black Mormon: The Story of Elijah Ables. He has also been published in the Journal of Mormon HistoryDialogue, and Oxford University Press’s American National Biography Series. He currently resides in East Lansing, Michigan.


For the Cause of Righteousness: A Global History of Blacks and Mormonism, 1830-2013. Greg Kofford Books, 437pp. Paperback–$32.95/Hardback—$66.95

also by Russell Stevenson: Black Mormon: The Story of Elijah Ables. PrintStar, 2013. 129pp. $16.99

Shipping: $4.50 for the first book, $1 for each additional. Priority/FedEx/UPS options available—inquire for details

Utah residents—add 7.05% sales tax



With the recent release of several Gospel Topics essays on the Church’s website (see here) and general interest in the topic of polygamy, we thought we would highlight some key resources on the subject. If you would like to order copies of any of the titles or have questions about them, please give us a call at 801/486-3111 or e-mail us at info@benchmarkbooks.com. We have limited quantities of some of these titles and they may need to be ordered.

  • insacredCompton, Todd. In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith. Signature Books, 1997. 788pp. Hardback. $43.95. In this one-of-a-kind study, Todd Compton created chapter-length biographies for each of the 33 wives of Joseph Smith that he could document. The majority of Smith’s wives were younger than he, and one-third were between fourteen and twenty years of age. Another third were already married, and some of the husbands served as witnesses at their own wife’s polyandrous wedding. In addition, some of the wives hinted that they bore Smith children—most notably Sylvia Sessions’s daughter Josephine—although the children carried their stepfather’s surname. For all of Smith’s wives, the experience of being secretly married was socially isolating and emotionally draining. Along with the spiritual and temporal benefits, which they acknowledged, they found their faith tested to the limit of its endurance. A landmark study. Best Book Award from both the John Whitmer Historical Association and the Mormon History Association.
  • jspHales, Brian C. Joseph Smith’s Polygamy, Vol. 1: History (vols. 2 & 3 are temporarily out of print). Greg Kofford Books, 2013. 623pp. Hardback. $36.95. Victorian America saw plural marriage as immoral and Joseph Smith as acting on libido. However, the private writings of Nauvoo participants and other polygamy insiders tell another, more complex and nuanced story. Many of these accounts have never been published while others have been printed sporadically in unrelated publications. Drawing on every known historical account, whether by supporters or opponents, Volume 1 (along with vol. 2—vol. 3 discusses theology) takes a fresh look at the chronology and development of Mormon polygamy, including the difficult conundrums of the Fanny Alger relationship, polyandry, the “angel with a sword” accounts, Emma Smith’s poignant response, and the possibility of Joseph Smith offspring by his plural wives. Among the most intriguing are the newly available Andrew Jenson papers containing not only the often-quoted statements by surviving plural wives but also Jenson’s own private research, conducted in the late nineteenth century.  An exhaustive study and a valuable resource.
  • npSmith, George D. Nauvoo Polygamy: “…but we called it celestial marriage.” Signature Books, 2008. 705pp. Hardback. Reg. $39.95, SALE $14.99/2011. 728pp. Paperback (revised 2nd ed.). $28.95.  In this thoroughly researched and documented work, the author shows how the prophet introduced single and married women to this new form of “celestial marriage”—a privilege granted to the elect men of Nauvoo. Through their journals, letters, and affidavits, the participants tell their stories in intimate detail—before polygamy was forcibly abandoned and nearly forgotten. Perhaps the most notable feature of George Smith’s contribution is the way in which public elements of Nauvoo, such as sermons given by Joseph Smith, are placed in context of what was occurring “behind the scenes” with the development of polygamy.
  • mpVan Wagoner, Richard S. Mormon Polygamy: A History. Signature Books, 1989. 255p. Paperback, $19.95. In this comprehensive survey of Mormon polygamy, Richard Van Wagoner details the tumultuous reaction among insiders and outsiders to plural marriage. In an honest, methodical way, he traces the origins, the peculiarities common to the midwestern and later Utah periods, and post-1890 new marriages. Drawing heavily on first-hand accounts, he outlines the theological underpinnings and the personal trauma associated with this lifestyle. What emerges is a portrait that neither discounts nor exaggerates the historical evidence. He presents polygamy in context, neither condemning nor defending, while relevant contemporary accounts are treated sympathetically but interpreted critically. No period of Mormon history is emphasized over another. Scattered throughout the western United States today are tens of thousands of fundamentalist Mormons who still live “the principle.” They, too, are a part of Joseph Smith’s legacy and are included in this study. Still the only comprehensive history of polygamy ever written.
  • moreDaynes, Kathryn M. More Wives than One: Transformation of the Mormon Marriage System, 1840-1910. University of Illinois Press, 2008. 305pp. Paperback. $26.00. More Wives Than One offers an in-depth look at the long-term interaction between belief and the practice of polygamy, or plural marriage, among the Latter-day Saints. Focusing on the small community of Manti, Utah, Kathryn M. Daynes provides an intimate view of how Mormon doctrine and Utah laws on marriage and divorce were applied in people’s lives.
    “Kathryn Daynes has combined meticulous research into the lives of families in Manti, Utah, with a superb sense of the interaction between law and religion. This book is a multi-faceted jewel, illuminating the clashes of doctrine and legislation in nineteenth-century Utah, and the meaning that such clashes had in the lives of individuals. No prior book on polygamy has given us such a rich and thoughtful account of how the Mormon marriage system affected all of society, as well as those who lived the principle.”–Sarah Barringer Gordon, author of The Mormon Question: Polygamy and Constitutional Conflict in Nineteenth-Century America
  • modernHales, Brian C. Modern Polygamy and the Mormon Fundamentalism: The Generations after the Manifesto. Greg Kofford Books, 2011. 524pp. Paperback. $31.95. This fascinating study seeks to trace the historical tapestry that is early Mormon polygamy, details the official discontinuation of the practice by the Church, and, for the first time, describes the many zeal-driven organizations that arose in the wake of that decision. Among the polygamous groups discussed are the LeBaronites, whose “blood atonement” killings sent fear throughout Mormon communities in the late seventies and the eighties; the FLDS Church, which made news recently over its construction of a compound and temple in Texas and Warren Jeffs’ arrest and conviction; and the Allred and Kingston groups, two major factions with substantial membership statistics both in and out of the United States. All these absorbing histories, along with those of the smaller independent groups, are examined and explained in a way that all can appreciate. Best Book Award–John Whitmer Historical Association.
  • persistence 1`Bringhurst, Newell and Craig L. Foster (eds.). The Persistence of Polygamy: Joseph Smith and the Origins of Mormon Polygamy.   306pp. Paperback–$24.95/Hardback–$39.95. The first in a three-volume anthology in which top scholars examine the entire range and history of Mormon polygamy. Essays include: “Mormon Polygamy before Nauvoo? The Relationship of Joseph Smith and Fanny Alger” (Don Bradley), “Section 132 of the LDS Doctrine and Covenants: Its Complex Contents and Controversial Legacy” (Newell G. Bringhurst),  “Joseph Smith and the Puzzlement of ‘Polyandry’” (Brian C. Hales),  “Joseph Smith, the Question of Polygamous Offspring, and DNA Analysis” (Ugo A. Perego).
  • persistence 2Bringhurst, Newell and Craig L. Foster (eds.). The Persistence of Polygamy: From Joseph Smith’s Martyrdom to the First Manifesto, 1844-1890. 372pp. Hardback–$39.95. In this second volume, the editors have assembled an array of new research into the wide diversity of polygamy as practiced by different Latter Day Saint groups during the later nineteenth century. Essays include: “For Time and All Eternity: The Complex Brigham Young Polygamous Households” by Jeffery Johnson, “Brigham Young, African-Americans, and Plural Marriage: Schism and the Beginnings of Black Priesthood Denial” by Connell O’Donovan, “Six Polygamous LDS Presidents and their Wives: From Brigham Young through Heber J. Grant” by Craig Foster, “Three Schismatic Mormons Leaders and Plural Marriage: Alpheus Cutler, William Smith, and Lyman Wight” by Christopher Blythe, “LDS Joseph F. Smith v. RLDS Joseph Smith III: Records of Nauvoo Polygamy and the Conflict that Forged Them” by Don Bradley and Brian Hales, “The RLDS Church’s Changing Policy on Plural Marriage and the Bringing Forth of RLDS Doctrine and Covenants Section 150” by Richard Howard
  • RevelationSmith, Merina. Revelation, Resistance & Mormon Polygamy: The Introduction and Implementation of the Principle, 1830-1853. Utah State University, 2013. 267pp. Hardback, $29.95. Author Merina Smith explores the introduction of polygamy in Nauvoo, a development that unfolded amid scandal and resistance. Smith considers the ideological, historical, and even psychological elements of the process and captures the emotional and cultural detail of this exciting and volatile period in Mormon history. She illuminates the mystery of early adherents’ acceptance of such a radical form of marriage in light of their dedication to the accepted monogamous marriage patterns of their day. When Joseph Smith began to reveal and teach the doctrine of plural marriage in 1841, even stalwart members like Brigham Young were shocked and confused. In this thoughtful study, Smith argues that the secret introduction of plural marriage among the leadership coincided with an evolving public theology that provided a contextualizing religious narrative that persuaded believers to accept the principle. This fresh interpretation draws from diaries, letters, newspapers, and other primary sources and is especially effective in its use of family narratives.
  • polygamousHarline, Paula Kelly. Polygamous Wives Writing Club: From the Diaries of Mormon Pioneer Women. Oxford University Press, 2014. 244pp. Hardback. $29.95. Polygamous wives were participants in a controversial and very public religious practice that violated most nineteenth-century social and religious rules of a monogamous America. Harline considers the questions: Were these women content with their sacrifice? Did the benefits of polygamous marriage for the Mormons outweigh the human toll it required and the embarrassment it continues to bring? Polygamous wives faced daunting challenges not only imposed by the wider society but within the home, yet those whose writings Harline explores give voice to far more than unhappiness and discontent. The personal writings of these lesser-known women, all married to different husbands, are the heart of this remarkable book–they paint a vivid and sometimes disturbing picture of an all but vanished and still controversial way of life.
  • solemnHardy, B. Carmon. Solemn Covenant: The Mormon Polygamous Passage. University of Illinois Press, 1992. 435pp. Hardback. $42.00. In his famous Manifesto of 1890, Wilford Woodruff called for an end to the more than fifty-year practice of polygamy. Fifteen years later, two men were dramatically expelled from the Quorum of Twelve Apostles for having taken post-Manifesto plural wives and encouraged the step by others. Evidence reveals, however, that hundreds of Mormons (including several apostles) were given approval to enter such relationships after they supposedly were banned. Why would Mormon leaders endanger agreements allowing Utah to become a state and risk their church’s reputation by engaging in such activities–all the while denying the fact to the world? This book seeks to find the answer through a review of the Mormon polygamous experience from its beginnings. Solemn Covenant provides the most careful examination ever undertaken of Mormon theological, social, and biological defenses of the principle.
  • questionGordon, Sarah Barringer. The Mormon Question: Polygamy and Constitutional Conflict in Nineteenth Century America. UNC Press, 2002. 337pp. Paperback–$32.50/Hardback–$77.95. From the Mormon Church’s public announcement of its sanction of polygamy in 1852 until its formal decision to abandon the practice in 1890, people on both sides of the “Mormon question” debated central questions of constitutional law. Did principles of religious freedom and local self-government protect Mormons’ claim to a distinct, religiously based legal order? Or was polygamy, as its opponents claimed, a new form of slavery–this time for white women in Utah? And did constitutional principles dictate that democracy and true liberty were founded on separation of church and state?  As Sarah Barringer Gordon shows, the answers to these questions finally yielded an apparent victory for antipolygamists in the late nineteenth century, but only after decades of argument, litigation, and open conflict. Victory came at a price; as attention and national resources poured into Utah in the late 1870s and 1880s, antipolygamists turned more and more to coercion and punishment in the name of freedom. They also left a legacy in constitutional law and political theory that still governs our treatment of religious life: Americans are free to believe, but they may well not be free to act on their beliefs.

The Council of Fifty: A Documentary History (Jedediah Rogers)

Just a reminder that Jedediah S. Rogers, editor of the much anticipated Council of Fifty: A Documentary History (published by Signature Books), will be here on Wednesday, Dec 17th to speak about and sign his book. Please note that this event will be slightly different from our other events:

The publisher, Signature Books, has generously provided for the acclaimed Chow Truck to serve complimentary gourmet sliders and beverages. The food will be served in our parking lot (to the east of the building) from 5:30 to 6:30. (We will have some chairs in our east lobby and in the hall for those who wish to eat inside). We then invite you to come upstairs to the store where Jed will speak beginning at 6:30.  Following his remarks and Q&A, the editor will then be available again to chat and sign books.

For more, info click here and to RSVP on Facebook, click here.

We thought that our report from this very interesting presentation would be a good teaser for tonight’s event with Gerrit Dirkmaat and Brent Rogers!


The current JSP lineup

**click on any image to enlarge**

On Monday, we were invited to attend a release event at the Church History Library for the latest volume of the Joseph Smith Papers–Documents, vol. 3: February 1833-March 1834. We enjoyed seeing friends and bloggers and hearing from four people associated with the Joseph Smith Papers project. First, our good friend Matt Grow gave an update on forthcoming volumes. 2015 will see first the publication of the printer’s manuscript of the Book of Mormon (in two volumes)—release date will probably be in the summer. Like the oversize Revelations & Translations. Manuscript Revelation Books – Facsimile Edition volume, these volumes will feature a full-color scan of the original and the transcription on the facing page. The estimated retail at this point is $89.95/vol. Next, in the fall, the long-awaited third and final volume in the Journals series.

2016 will be an even busier year. First, in the spring, volume 4 in the Documents series will be released. Then, sometime in the middle of the year, a blockbuster release—the first volume in the Administrative series. This volume will include the complete minutes from the Nauvoo-era Council of Fifty.  These minutes—long held in the First Presidency vault and unavailable to scholars—are a very welcome inclusion in the project. Finally, in the second half of the year, the first volume in yet another series—Legal and Business—will be released.

Grow also discussed the revamped JSP website—elements of the website now being added include photos, topic/area pages, improved document viewer (with table of contents for large documents), updated search capability (sorting, quicker, suggested search, filters), individual pages for each print volume and, perhaps most intriguing, lesson plans that integrate the JSP with curriculum (geared to university classes—perhaps with church curriculum in the future?).

Following Grow’s introductory remarks, we heard from co-lead editor Gerrit Dirkmaat. He noted that this volume starts off benignly with great hopes—church leaders were trying to expand Kirtland (several documents discuss how to purchase more land). Though the Peter French farm purchase is fairly well-known, they intended to acquire much more land than this. Gerrit noted jokingly that “I don’t think they had two dimes to rub together” but somehow they came up with the money.

A particularly intriguing entry in this volume is minutes from 18 March 1833—it appears to be a School of the Prophets meeting. The scribe, Frederick G. Williams, nonchalantly recorded that “many of the brethren saw a heavenly vision of the savior and concourses of angels.” We discussed why, despite Williams’ statement that “each one has a record of what they saw,” no other contemporary reference to this event exists (Zebedee Coltrin was famously asked about this vision fifty years later, also in a School of the Prophets setting). Following this experience, “the wheels come off very quickly” both in Kirtland and Independence at roughly same time (mid-summer 1833). In Kirtland, this was due more to internal factors—disgruntled former Mormon Philastus Hurlbut created serious problems with his allegations and efforts to collect affidavits attesting to perceived Mormon shortcomings (this endeavor, funded by Eber D. Howe, resulted in the publication of Mormonism Unvailed—an annotated edition of this important work will be issued soon by Signature Books).  One of the most durable claims Hurlbut made was that he had seen a manuscript written by Solomon Spaulding that was tweaked by Joseph Smith and then reported to be the Book of Mormon translation. By summer 1833, most documents are of “response” type  dealing with the fallout of Hurlbut’s determined efforts.

Next, Gerrit discussed the evolving concept of township poor funds and how these could affect residence within the township. Due to frequent abuse of the fund, the overseers could “warn out” people and, in some cases, physically deport them. Once this happened, those “warned out” could not establish legal residence in the township. The aforementioned Eber D. Howe noted that “every legal means” was used to prevent Mormon dominance in Kirtland and this strategy very well may have been in his mind when he wrote that. An October 1833 warrant in this volume relates to the “warning out” effort.

Alison Palmer, lead production editor for this volume, next got to employ some very impressive “show and tell” to demonstrate some of the challenges involved in producing a print volume for this time period. The plans and plats included here demonstrate the wider talents and goals of Mormon leaders and are key pieces to understanding these individuals. However, since the documents themselves are huge, they presented a unique obstacle to represent typographically. For example, how to include the colored Kirtland plat in a useful way—with the temple block in the center and residential plots around the edges thereof—gave them some heartburn. The solution they devised was to divide the large image into smaller sections, include an image of the original and transcribe anything written on it. Though today these documents are priceless, at the time they were certainly not seen as such. For example, the plan for the Kirtland temple was used as “scratch paper” and served as backing for some of the papyri associated with the Book of Abraham. The plans and plats were revised continually—this is best seen in the iconic plat for the city of Zion.  Only by seeing this in person can one see that the center temple block has actually been pasted over an earlier version (we asked if we could just peel that back and see the original—everyone agreed that archivists would have no problem with that…).


revised plat for city of Zion


zoomed in on temple block


shows pasted-on revision to temple block


architectural drawings of exterior of Kirtland Temple


closeup of pulpits in Kirtland Temple drawings

The conflict in Jackson is beginning to rage as these particular documents were being created—the drive to create Zion was at the forefront even amidst these difficulties.

The final presenter was the second lead editor, Brent Rogers. He began by pointing out that this volume includes a healthy amount of material on women and lesser known figures. One particular person we discussed was Vienna Jaques who appears several times in the volume. The only woman mentioned by name in the D&C besides Emma Smith, Jaques was a wealthy convert from the East who provided very welcome financial assistance at a critical moment. Another prominent theme in Documents, vol. 3 is the difficulty in managing church growth in various places in a letter-only world. With a lag of three weeks (one way!) for the delivery of a letter, leaders in Kirtland were woefully behind in trying to keep on top of the growing crisis in Missouri. The first hint of trouble there arrived in a letter from John Whitmer—he had just received a package from the leadership in Ohio with city and temple plans.  This juxtaposition of Zion and conflict is a perfect symbol for the nature of this time period—the bulk of the documents reflect these two themes.

As has come to be expected, this volume includes cutting edge scholarship with exhaustive documentation. Future research and publications on the conflicts in Missouri and the plans for building Zion as well as the Kirtland Temple will greatly benefit from the insight and painstaking analysis from the editors of this volume.



The Council of Fifty: A Documentary History (Jedediah Rogers)












We are very excited to announce that Jedediah S. Rogers, editor of the much anticipated Council of Fifty: A Documentary History (published by Signature Books), will be here on Wednesday, Dec 17th to speak about and sign his book. Please note that this event will be slightly different from our other events:

The publisher, Signature Books, has generously provided for the acclaimed Chow Truck to serve complimentary gourmet sliders and beverages. The food will be served in our parking lot (to the east of the building) from 5:30 to 6:30. (We will have some chairs in our east lobby and in the hall for those who wish to eat inside). We then invite you to come upstairs to the store where Jed will speak beginning at 6:30.  Following his remarks and Q&A, the editor will then be available again to chat and sign books. We hope you will be able to make it to this memorable night but, if not, we can mail a signed copy or hold one here at the store for pick-up. To RSVP on Facebook, click here.

One of the more intriguing developments in Mormon history during Joseph Smith’s lifetime came only a scant few months before his death. In March 1844, the Council of Fifty was formed—council member John D. Lee proclaimed it would replicate the “councils of the gods” in heaven. The intent was to have an organization that would supervise political campaigns and send explorers out in search of locations where the church could establish satellite colonies. As events unfolded, their scouting forays into Oregon and Texas proved useful when tensions mounted in Illinois and Mormons began looking for a new home base.

In the Great Basin the council oversaw everything from water rights to the regulation of hunting and grazing during the first few years in the valley. The council later appointed a Committee of Seven to monitor the federal “Board of Registration and Election in the Territory of Utah” and to approve candidates for elections, typically only allowing one candidate per office.

Among the council’s more notable practices was how it anointed its leader their temporal king. “After listening to some current items of news” in 1885, council president John Taylor “directed [someone] to read a revelation which [Taylor] said he [had] received … requiring him to be anointed & set apart as a king [and] priest and ruler over Israel on the earth,” upon which they “proceed[ed] to obey the requirement of the revelation.”

Council members clearly felt an inseparable bond, writing about how they spent hours together in “sweet conversation.” One council member described one of the meetings as “a long session but pleasant and harmonious,” while another wrote that “much precious instructions were given, and it seems like heaven began on earth and the power of God is with us.”

Entries in this documentary history are taken from contemporary diaries and letters—in some cases, excerpts or entire sets of meeting minutes are taken from the research notes of Michael Quinn. Helpful annotation from Rogers gives biographical details on members of the council, fleshes out references and provides contextual historical information.

“Some may think the forthcoming Nauvoo minutes are the all-important and sufficient record of the council, but I suspect not. Context is equally important. We don’t yet know exactly what the contents of the minutes might be, but I believe the church’s editors will find themselves hard-pressed to produce anything as thorough and fine as the present volume.”

–from the foreword by Klaus J. Hansen, author of the pioneering study Quest for Empire: The Political Kingdom of God and the Council of Fifty in Mormon History

“This is an extraordinary compendium of information having to do with the foundation of Mormonism and early Utah. It contains virtually every document, outside of church vaults, pertaining to the operation of the Council of Fifty, the secretive and powerful group that worked for forty years to bring about Joseph Smith’s political vision. Rogers sets a new high standard for a documents collection.”

–Gene A. Sessions, professor and author of Mormon Thunder: A Documentary History of Jedediah Morgan Grant

Jedediah S. Rogers is co-editor of the Utah Historical Quarterly. He is the author of the 2012 Wallace Stegner Prize-winning book, Roads in the Wilderness: Conflict in Canyon Country, and editor of In the President’s Office: The Diaries of L. John Nuttall, 1879-1892, winner of the Mormon History Association’s 2008 Best Documentary Book Award and Utah State University Evans Handcart Award.


The Council of Fifty: A Documentary History. Signature Books, 2014. 480pp. Hardback. $49.95.

Also by Jedediah Rogers:

Roads in the Wilderness: Conflict in Canyon Country. University of Utah Press, 2013. 278pp. Paperback–$24.95/Hardback–$39.95

In the President’s Office: The Diaries of L. John Nuttall, 1879-1892 (Significant Mormon Diaries Series, limited to 500 copies). Signature Books, 2007. 511pp. Hardback. $125.00.


Shipping: $4.50 for the first book, $1 for each additional (USPS)–Priority/FedEx/UPS options available–inquire for details.

Utah residents–add 7.05% sales tax


Just a reminder that Gerrit Dirkmaat and Brent Rogers, two of the editors of the latest volume of the Joseph Smith Papers—Documents, vol. 3: February 1833-March 1834 (published by The Church Historian’s Press), will be here on Thursday, Dec 4th to speak about and sign their book. They will be here from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., speaking at 6:00, and will answer questions and sign books before and after that time. We hope you will be able to make it that night but, if not, we can mail a signed copy or hold one here at the store for pick-up. To RSVP on Facebook, click here.


book blow out

Benchmark Books wants to take part in the Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday deals and so we are announcing our Winter Book Blowout Weekend! Until the end of the day on Monday, December 1, save 20% off on most new books and 30% off on used and out-of-print books (some exceptions apply)!! In addition, we are offering free shipping on orders over $100. Come in and find some treasures to add to your collection. We will be open:

Friday, Nov 28: 10 AM—6 PM

Saturday, Nov 29: 10 AM—5 PM

Monday, Dec 1: 10 AM—6 PM

If you can’t make it into the store, you can browse our inventory at http://www.benchmarkbooks.com/shop/. If you have any questions, please give us a call  (801-486-3111/800-486-3112) or e-mail us at info@benchmarkbooks.com.

Here are some recently released titles to get you thinking:

  • The Council of Fifty: A Documentary History (Jedediah Rogers)FORTHCOMING (DEC 15, 2014)—PRE-ORDER NOW AND SAVE 20%! The Council of Fifty: A Documentary History ed. by Jedediah Rogers. Signature Books, 2014. 480pp. Hardback. $49.95. Mormon Church founder Joseph Smith had both millennial and temporal aspirations for the organization he called the Council of Fifty, named after the number of men who were intended to comprise it. Organized a few months before Smith’s death in June 1844, it continued under Brigham Young as a secret shadow government until 1851. Minutes from the earliest meetings are closed to researchers but contemporary accounts speak of a deliberative body preparing for Christ’s imminent reign. It also helped to sponsor Smith’s U.S. presidential bid and oversaw the exodus to present-day Utah. One member downplayed the significance of this secret legislative body in 1849 as “nothing but a debating School.” On the contrary, a typical meeting included decisions regarding irrigation, fencing, and adobe housing, after which the group sang a song written by Parley P. Pratt: “Come ye sons of doubt and wonder; Indian, Moslem, Greek or Jew; … Be to all a friend and brother; Peace on Earth, good will to men.” Two weeks later, the council called for “blood to flow” to enforce its laws. As the nineteenth century waned and the LDS Church moved toward the American mainstream, ending its emphasis on the imminent End of Days, there was no longer a need for a Church-managed municipal group destined to become the millennial world government. The council became irrelevant but survives today as a historical artifact available in fragmented documentary pieces which are presented here for the first time. **The book should arrive about Dec 15th. We will have an event with the editor on Wednesday, Dec 17th—watch for more details (like what time the Chow Truck—serving gourmet sliders—will be here!)
  • Joseph_Smith_Papers_Documents_V3The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents Vol. 3: February 1833-March 1834 ed. by Gerrit J. Dirkmaat, Brent M. Rogers, Grant Underwood, Robert J. Woodford and William G. Hartley. Church Historian’s Press, 2014. 627pp. Hardback. $54.95. This volume contains reproductions of 88 documents—revelations, letters, and other papers—presented in chronological order. Historical introductions to each document explain where, when, and why it was created. From revelations to sermons to newspaper editorials to personal correspondence, the documents of this series allow you to see through the eyes of Joseph as early Church history unfolded. A primary focus of the time period covered in Volume 3 is the effort to build temples and develop Zion in Missouri. Volume 3 also documents the challenges Joseph Smith faced as the population of the Church grew in both Ohio and Missouri and as the violent persecution of the Saints in Jackson County intensified. As with the first two volumes, this volume includes many revelations, including the Word of Wisdom (preceded by a nine-page introduction!), that were later published in the Doctrine and Covenants.
  • first principlesFirst Principles and Ordinances: The Fourth Article of Faith in Light of the Temple by Samuel M. Brown. Neal A. Maxwell Institute, 2014. 167pp. Paperback. $16.95. Religion is not lived alone. A fresh focus on our relationships with God and other people can transform our understanding and experience of the gospel basics of faith, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost. First Principles and Ordinances begins the work of outlining a Latter-day Saint theology of relationships by highlighting continuity between the gospel’s first principles and ordinances and the highest ordinances of LDS temple worship. The second book in the Maxwell Institute’s “Living Faith” series. SIGNED.
  • TragedyTragedy and Truth: What Happened at Hawn’s Mill—gen. ed. Alexander Baugh, contributing eds: Glenn Rawson and Dennis Lyman with contributions by Max H. Parkin, Gerrit Dirkmaat, and Brent M. Rogers. 121pp. Hardback, $24.99. On the afternoon of October 30, 1838, a vigilante force of more than two hundred armed men attacked and raided the small settlement known as Hawn’s Mill in eastern Caldwell County, Missouri. The premeditated assault left seventeen Mormon men and boys dead and more than a dozen others wounded. But those who remained had little time to mourn their loss. Afraid of another attack, short of help, and facing unseasonably cold temperatures, the shocked survivors quickly buried fourteen of their dead in an unfinished dry well. During the weeks and months that followed, life at Hawn’s Mill was bleak, especially for the women and children whose husbands and fathers had been killed or wounded and who struggled to provide for their families. Yet the experiences of the Latter-day Saints at Hawn’s Mill exemplify incredible faith, courage, and commitment in the midst of terrible tragedy. Their stories touch the deepest of sympathies, inspire faith, strengthen testimony, and should never be forgotten. But why did the attack occur? Who was involved? And did the Saints at Hawn’s Mill disobey Joseph Smith’s counsel? These and other telling questions are explained and clarified by four top LDS Church history scholars in this fascinating book devoted exclusively to helping readers understand why and how the massacre at Hawn’s Mill happened. Signed by Dirkmaat and Rogers.
  • wrestlingWrestling the Angel: The Foundations of Mormon Thought: Cosmos, God, Humanity by Terryl L. Givens. 424pp. Hardback. $34.95. In this first volume of his magisterial study of the foundations of Mormon thought and practice, Terryl L. Givens offers a sweeping account of Mormon belief from its founding to the present day. Situating the relatively new movement in the context of the Christian tradition, he reveals that Mormonism continues to change and grow. Givens shows that despite Mormonism’s origins in a biblical culture strongly influenced by nineteenth-century Restorationist thought, which advocated a return to the Christianity of the early Church, the new movement diverges radically from the Christianity of the creeds. Mormonism proposes its own cosmology and metaphysics, in which human identity is rooted in a premortal world as eternal as God. Mormons view mortal life as an enlightening ascent rather than a catastrophic fall, and reject traditional Christian concepts of human depravity and destiny. Popular fascination with Mormonism’s social innovations, such as polygamy and communalism, and its supernatural and esoteric elements-angels, gold plates, seer stones, a New World Garden of Eden, and sacred undergarments-have long overshadowed the fact that it is the most enduring and even thriving product of the nineteenth century’s religious upheavals and innovations. Wrestling the Angel traces the essential contours of Mormon thought from the time of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young to the contemporary LDS church, illuminating both the seminal influence of the founding generation of Mormon thinkers and the significant developments in the church over almost 200 years.
  • Kramer_Beholding_mediumBeholding the Tree of Life: A Rabbinic Approach to the Book of Mormon by Bradley J. Kramer. Greg Kofford Books, 2014. 225pp. Paperback–$21.95/Hardback–$50.00. Too often readers approach the Book of Mormon simply as a collection of quotations, an inspired anthology to be scanned quickly and routinely recited. In Beholding the Tree of Life Bradley J. Kramer encourages his readers to slow down, to step back, and to contemplate the literary qualities of the Book of Mormon using interpretive techniques developed by Talmudic and post-Talmudic rabbis. Specifically, Kramer shows how to read the Book of Mormon closely, in levels, paying attention to the details of its expression as well as to its overall connection to the Hebrew Scriptures—all in order to better appreciate the beauty of the Book of Mormon and its limitless capacity to convey divine meaning.“Latter-day Saints have claimed the Book of Mormon as the keystone of their religion, but it presents itself first and foremost as a Jewish narrative. Beholding the Tree of Life is the first book I have seen that attempts to situate the Book of Mormon by paying serious attention to its Jewish literary precedents and ways of reading scripture. It breaks fresh ground in numerous ways that enrich an LDS understanding of the scriptures and that builds bridges to a potential Jewish readership.” — Terryl L. Givens, author of By the Hand of Mormon: The American Scripture that Launched a New World Religion
  • Mapping 2ndMapping Mormonism: An Atlas of Latter-day Saint History (2nd ed.) ed. by Brandon Plewe, S. Kent Brown, Donald Q. Cannon and Richard H. Jackson. BYU Press, 2014. Oversize hardback, 272pp. $39.95. Best Book Award 2012–Mormon History Association. Over 500 maps, timelines, and charts visualizing the history of the Restoration. In this state-of-the-art atlas, readers can take in the epic sweep of the Mormon movement in a new, immersive way. Never has so much geographical data about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints been presented in one volume so attractively and informatively. Several maps in the last two sections have been revised to bring them up to the present.
  • Lost Book of MormonThe Lost Book of Mormon: A Journey Through the Mythic Lands of Nephi, Zarahemla, & Kansas City, Missouri by Avi Steinberg. Nan Talese, 2014. 265pp. $26.95. A fascinated nonbeliever, Steinberg spent a year and a half on a personal quest, traveling the path laid out by the epic of the Book of Mormon. Starting in Jerusalem, where The Book of Mormon opens with a bloody murder, Steinberg continued to the ruined Maya cities of Central America—the setting for most of The Book of Mormon’s ancient story—where he gallivanted with a boisterous bus tour of believers exploring Maya archaeological sites for evidence. From there the journey took him to upstate New York, where he participated in the true Book of Mormon musical, the annual Hill Cumorah Pageant. And finally Steinberg arrived at the center of the American continent, Jackson County, Missouri, the spot Smith identified as none other than the site of the Garden of Eden. Threaded through this quirky travelogue is an argument for taking The Book of Mormon seriously as a work of American imagination. Literate and funny, personal and provocative, the genre-bending The Lost Book of Mormon boldly explores our deeply human impulse to write bibles and discovers the abiding power of story.
  • lucy-mack-smith-first-mother-of-the-restoration-dv--1414602498_MEDLucy Mack Smith: First Mother of the Restoration DVD (History of the Saints). History of the Saints, 2014. DVD. $19.99. With Glenn Rawson. Approx. 1 hr. Lucy Mack Smith – mother of the Prophet of the Restoration, Joseph Smith Jr. – was born during the American Revolution and by her very nature had the determined spirit of independence. She also witnessed the Second Great Awakening in America that caused so many to seek after God. These influences, coupled with a faithful upbringing, created in Lucy Mack Smith a singular personality and character, one well-suited to rear the Prophet who would restore all truth to the earth. That alone was monumental, but her influence extended well beyond the formative years of her children. The historical record bears out the profound respect shown her both by her family and by the body of the Saints. Not only did she prove herself an exemplary mother and companion, but she was a fierce witness and defender of the faith.
  • joseph_smith_and_the_foundations_of_the_restorationJoseph Smith and the Foundations of the Restoration DVD (History of the Saints). History of the Saints, 2014. 30 episodes on 8 DVDs. $39.99.Joseph Smith and the Foundations of the Restoration” represents a season collection of individual stories of the Restoration presented for television by the History of the Saints production team. The events of the Restoration are presented in revealing historical detail. Individuals who made that history, some famous and some scarcely known are discusses. Thirty individual episodes take the viewer through the latest research on the early history of the Restoration from before the birth of Joseph Smith to December 1831, when the Lord called the Church to “go to the Ohio.” Produced by History of the Saints in association with Mormon Historic Sites Foundation. Episodes run time approximately 22 mins. each.
  • Emma Smith we KNowThe Emma Smith We Know by Darcy Kennedy and Angeline Kennedy. The Joseph Smith Jr. & Emma Hale Smith Historical Society, 2008. 92pp + Appendix, Notes. Paperback. $5.99. From the descendants of Joseph Smith, Jr. and Emma Hale Smith comes a compilation of memories, recipes and expressions of love involving this Elect Lady. Included inside are never-before-seen journal entries, the blessing Emma wrote for Joseph to sign, and other unique gems. Discover a side of Emma you didn’t know. Become inspired by her example and the feelings of her posterity.
  • Ministry PeterThe Ministry of Peter the Chief Apostle (43rd Sperry Symposium) ed. by Frank F. Judd, Jr., Eric D. Huntsman, and Shon D. Hopkin. Deseret Book, 2014. 404pp. Hardback. $31.99. A sometimes fallible but nonetheless earnest disciple, the Apostle Peter is an important example of grace, transformation, service, and power. Like others who came after, Peter’s ministry began when he, a simple man, was chosen by the Lord to become more than he was. The changes wrought in Peter chronicled in scripture are, quite evidently, miraculous. What can we learn from his life and ministry? What insights into God’s dealing with mortal men can we glean from Peter’s experience? Are there aspects of that experience that resonate with our own? Essays in this collection—including an appendix containing President Spencer W. Kimball’s magnificent 1971 address “Peter, My Brother”—treat Peter’s cultural background and context, his role in the apostolic church, many of his noted teachings, and his important legacy in early Christianity and the Restoration. But above all, Peter is revealed as one who, through the Atonement and the endowment of the Spirit, overcame his own weaknesses to become one of the greatest, and most powerful, witnesses of the divinity, mission, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
  • It_Is_Better_to_Look_UpIt Is Better to Look Up: Life Experiences Shared from the Pulpit. Deseret Book, 2014. 181pp. Hardback. $22.99. It Is Better to Look Up gathers more than fifty of the most memorable personal experiences shared in general conference over the years and pairs them with stunning photographic images. The result is a volume filled with remarkable true accounts of God’s hand in our lives such as “In Harm’s Way,” by President Thomas S. Monson; “Man Down!” by President Henry B. Eyring; “Lift Where You Stand,” by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf; “You Stupid Cow!” by Elder Mervyn B. Arnold; “Worldly Promises,” by Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson; and dozens more from every member of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve, plus many additional leaders past and present. These short pieces are perfect for a quick moment of inspiration in a class, a home evening, or personal devotional time. Each one is presented with a scripture to complement the gospel message.
  • Jesus the christ study guideJesus the Christ Study Guide by Richard Neitzel Holzapfel and Thomas A. Wayment. Deseret Book, 2014. 230pp. Hardback. $18.99. Jesus the Christ, a true gospel classic about the life and ministry of the Savior, has drawn readers closer to Christ for decades. Commemorating the 100th anniversary of the publication of Jesus the Christ and aligned with the New Testament study year, this unique study guide helps learners of all levels get even more out of their study of the Savior, the scriptures, and a beloved, classic book. Following Jesus the Christ chapter by chapter, authors Richard Holzapfel and Thom Wayment relate the book to today’s learner as they share discoveries from the past century, offer additional insights, suggest study questions, and provide a glossary of difficult words.
  • Liberal SoulThe Liberal Soul: Applying the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Politics by Richard Davis. Greg Kofford Books, 2014. 170pp. Paperback. $22.95. The Liberal Soul offers something lacking in LDS culture. That is the presentation of a different way for Latter-day Saints to examine the question of how to be faithful disciples of Christ and good citizens. It shows public policy decision-making regarding government role as the manifestation of the “liberal soul” rather than as the libertarianism advocated by past Mormon speakers and writers such as Ezra Taft Benson, Cleon Skousen, or Vern Andersen. It also takes a different approach from the less radical but still traditional economic conservative attitudes of well-known politicians such as Orrin Hatch or Mitt Romney. Davis suggests that a Latter-day Saint can approach economic policy, war, the environment, and social issues with the perspective that society is basically good and not evil, tolerance and forbearance are desirable qualities instead of bad ones, and that government can and does play a positive role as a vehicle of society in improving the lives of citizens.
















We are pleased to announce that Gerrit Dirkmaat and Brent Rogers, two of the editors of the latest volume of the Joseph Smith Papers—Documents, vol. 3: February 1833-March 1834 (published by The Church Historian’s Press), will be here on Thursday, Dec 4th to speak about and sign their book. They will be here from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., speaking at 6:00, and will answer questions and sign books before and after that time. We hope you will be able to make it that night but, if not, we can mail a signed copy or hold one here at the store for pick-up. To RSVP on Facebook, click here.

**Those who are on the automatic ship list will receive a copy in the mail as soon as we get them signed. If you would like to be added to this list, please let us know!

This volume contains reproductions of 88 documents—revelations, letters, and other papers—presented in chronological order. Historical introductions to each document explain where, when, and why it was created. From revelations to sermons to newspaper editorials to personal correspondence, the documents of this series allow you to see through the eyes of Joseph as early Church history unfolded.

A primary focus of the time period covered in Volume 3 is the effort to build temples and develop Zion in Missouri. Volume 3 also documents the challenges Joseph Smith faced as the population of the Church grew in both Ohio and Missouri and as the violent persecution of the Saints in Jackson County intensified. As with the first two volumes, this volume includes many revelations, including the Word of Wisdom (preceded by a nine-page introduction!), that were later published in the Doctrine and Covenants

Gerrit Dirkmaat received his PhD in history in 2010 from the University of Colorado. He worked as a historian/writer for the Joseph Smith Papers project (JSP) from 2010-2014 at the LDS Church History Department. He was a volume co-editor of Documents Volume 1 and the lead volume editor of Documents Volume 3. He is now an assistant professor of Church History and Doctrine at Brigham Young University but continues to serve as a volunteer historian/writer on the JSP. He is currently working on Administrative Volume 1, the Council of Fifty Minutes.

Brent M. Rogers received a BA with honors in history from San Diego State University, an MA in public history from California State University, Sacramento, and a PhD in nineteenth-century United States history from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. He previously served as a digital editor and research fellow for the Papers of William F. Cody and as an instructor in the history department at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. He has produced scholarship on digital history, history of the American West, and Mormon history.



The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents Vol. 3: February 1833-March 1834. The Church Historian’s Press, 2014. 627pp. Hardback. $54.95 (subscribers save 10%–if you’re not a subscriber yet, sign up now!)

Other Joseph Smith Papers volumes:

  1. Journals, Vol. 1 (1832-1839), $49.95 (2008)
  2. Revelations & Translations: Manuscript Revelation Books – Facsimile Ed., Reg. $99.95, SALE $39.99 (2009)

Includes full-color scans for every page in the two revelation books as well as color-coded transcriptions on the facing page.

  1. Revelations & Translations. Manuscript Revelation Books – Vol. 1, $79.95 (2011)

This volume is simply a different version of #2. This edition does not include all the full-color scans of the original manuscripts (there are a few examples, though) but does include the transcriptions. In addition, this version is the regular size (like #1 and #4). Thus, this is not technically a new volume but a smaller, condensed version of an already published volume.

  1. Revelations & Translations, Vol. 2: Published Revelations, $69.95 (2011)
  2. Journals, Vol. 2 (1841-1843), $54.95 (2011)
  3. Histories, Vol. 1: Joseph Smith Histories (1832-1844), $54.95 (2012)
  4. Histories, Vol. 2: Assigned Histories (1831-1847), $54.95 (2012)
  5. Documents, vol. 1: July 1828 – June 1831, $54.95 (2013)
  6. Documents, vol. 2: July 1831 – January 1833, $54.95 (2013)


Shipping: $5.50 for the first book, $1.50 for each additional. Priority/FedEx/UPS options available–inquire for details.

Utah residents: add 7.05% sales tax

We are pleased to announce that Samuel M. Brown, author of First Principles and Ordinances:  The Fourth Article of Faith in Light of the Temple (published by the Neal A. Maxwell Institute) will be here TOMORROW on Wednesday, November 19th to sign and discuss his book. He will be here from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., speaking at 6:00, and will answer questions and sign books before and after that time. We hope you will be able to make that night but, if not, we can mail a signed copy or hold one here at the store for pick-up. For more details, click here and to RSVP on Facebook, click here.

Also, we have uploaded the video from the Robert Kirby signing on Nov 12th. To watch it, click on the Events tab above.

Finally, the latest volume of the Joseph Smith Papers has arrived: Documents, vol. 3: February 1833-March 1834.


Highlights from this volume:

  • Word of Wisdom–an extensive nine-page historical introduction!
  • minutes from the organization of the high council
  • plats and instructions for the city of Zion
  • documents relating to the expulsion from Jackson County

We are in the process of getting this volume signed by the editors–if you’re not already on the list to be notified when signed copies are available, let us know and we’ll add you!  We will have two of the editors (Gerrit Dirkmaat and Brent Rogers) here for an event on Thursday, Dec 4th.














Benchmark Books owner, Curt Bench, will be on popular KSL talk show host, Doug Wright’s show, “Everyday Lives, Everyday Values,” this Sunday, November 16, at 9:00 a.m., on KSL-Radio (1160 AM, 102.7 FM)—just prior to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir weekly broadcast. Curt and Doug will be highlighting some of new and forthcoming LDS books that Benchmark is now or will be soon selling through the store. Tune in and find out more about some of the titles we’re excited about.

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