Brigham Young: Pioneer Prophet 

by John G. Turner

We are pleased to announce that John Turner, author of the recently-published Brigham Young: Pioneer Prophet, will be at our store on Thursday, September 13, to speak about the book and sign copies. He will be here at 5:30 pm to sign and will begin speaking at 6:00. We hope you will stick around afterwards to enjoy some refreshments and have another opportunity to get your book signed and visit with Turner.

While previous accounts of Brigham Young’s life have been distorted by hagiography or polemical exposé, John Turner provides a fully realized portrait of a colossal figure in American religion, politics, and westward expansion. After the 1844 murder of Mormon founder Joseph Smith, Young gathered those Latter-day Saints who would follow him and led them over the Rocky Mountains. In Utah, he styled himself after the patriarchs, judges, and prophets of ancient Israel. As charismatic as he was autocratic, he was viewed by his followers as an indispensable protector and by his opponents as a theocratic, treasonous heretic. Under his fiery tutelage, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints defended plural marriage, restricted the place of African Americans within the church, fought the U.S. Army in 1857, and obstructed federal efforts to prosecute perpetrators of the Mountain Meadows Massacre. At the same time, Young’s tenacity and faith brought tens of thousands of Mormons to the American West, imbued their everyday lives with sacred purpose, and sustained his church against adversity. Turner reveals the complexity of this spiritual prophet, whose commitment made a deep imprint on his church and the American Mountain West. Brigham Young: Pioneer Prophet is a landmark of balanced scholarship and evidences a refreshingly open approach to Mormon biography. It is certain to become a standard by which future accounts of the life of Brigham Young will be judged.

Turner’s treatment of the complex Brigham Young is unsentimental, cogent, critical, and fair. It takes its place alongside Leonard Arrington’s magisterial American Moses as the essential, mutually challenging portraits of one of America’s greatest colonizers and religious figures.
–Philip L. Barlow, Arrington Chair of Mormon History and Culture at Utah State University

John G. Turner is assistant professor of religious studies at George Mason University. He initially considered a survey of post-World War II Mormonism but found himself drawn to the earlier period. He spent several summers in Salt Lake City for research purposes and developed warm relationships with the staff at the Church History Library who were extremely accommodating with his requests for sources.

Brigham Young: Pioneer Prophet (Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2012). 500 pp. Hardcover. Reg $35.00, SALE $31.50.

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