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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.

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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 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.

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