Defender: The Life of Daniel H. Wells by Quentin Thomas Wells. Utah State University Press, 2016. 508pp. Hardcover/dust jacket. $39.95. Defender is the first and only scholarly biography of Daniel H. Wells, one of the important yet historically neglected leaders among the nineteenth-century Mormons—leaders like Heber C. Kimball, George Q. Cannon, and Jedediah M. Grant. An adult convert to the Mormon faith during the Mormons’ Nauvoo period, Wells developed relationships with men at the highest levels of the church hierarchy, emigrated to Utah with the Mormon pioneers, and served in a series of influential posts in both church and state. Wells witnessed and influenced a wide range of consequential events that shaped the culture, politics, and society of Utah in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Using research from relevant collections, sources in public records, references to Wells in the Joseph Smith papers, other contemporaneous journals and letters, and the writings of Brigham Young, Quentin Thomas Wells has created a serious and significant contribution to Mormon history scholarship.
Revelations in Context: The Stories Behind the Sections of the Doctrine and Covenants ed. by Matthew McBride and James Goldberg. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2016. 346 pp. Paperback. New. $5.99. While the section headings, updated in 2013, provide some context for the revelations, instructions, and declarations in the Doctrine and Covenants, they don’t tell the complete story. What were the questions that prompted the revelations? What did the Lord’s responses mean to those to whom they were addressed? How did those who heard the revelations respond to new teachings? Revelations in Context is a collection of stories that attempts to answer these questions. Told from the point of view of people who experienced them in their immediate context, these narratives give us insight into the meaning of the revelations and help us see them with new eyes. The stories in this collection, which treat almost all of the sections in the Doctrine and Covenants, were written by historians in the Church History Department. In telling these stories, the authors brought to bear both their faith in the restored gospel and their training and expertise in American and Mormon history.
Revelatory Events Three Case Studies of the Emergence of New Spiritual Paths by Ann Taves. Princeton University Press, 2016. 357 pp. Paperback–$29.95/Hardback–$75.00. Unseen presences. Apparitions. Hearing voices. Although some people would find such experiences to be distressing and seek clinical help, others perceive them as transformative. Occasionally, these unusual phenomena give rise to new spiritual paths or religious movements. Revelatory Events provides fresh insights into what is perhaps the bedrock of all religious belief—the claim that otherworldly powers are active in human affairs. Ann Taves looks at Mormonism, Alcoholics Anonymous, and A Course in Miracles—three cases in which insiders claimed that a spiritual presence guided the emergence of a new spiritual path. In the 1820s, Joseph Smith, Jr., reportedly translated the Book of Mormon from ancient gold plates unearthed with the help of an angel. Bill Wilson cofounded AA after having an ecstatic experience while hospitalized for alcoholism in 1934. Helen Schucman scribed the words of an inner voice that she attributed to Jesus, which formed the basis of her 1976 best-selling self-study course. In each case, Taves argues, the sense of a guiding presence emerged through a complex, creative interaction between a founding figure with unusual mental abilities and an initial set of collaborators who were drawn into the process by diverse motives of their own.
“Ann Taves uses her skills as a historian to demonstrate that it is not spiritual experience itself that makes revelatory events, and her skills in cognitive science to unpack how events become revelatory. A deeply fascinating book, Revelatory Events helps us rethink spirituality itself.”
–T. M. Luhrmann, author of When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship with God
Precept upon Precept: Joseph Smith and the Restoration of Doctrine by Robert L. Millet. Deseret Book Company, 2016. 475pp. Hardcover/dust jacket. $29.99. Most histories and biographies of Joseph Smith don’t discuss doctrine, or they mention doctrines of revelations only briefly. Unlike any other treatment of him, this book presents the Prophet’s life in the context of what he was teaching doctrinally. Precept upon Precept explores the chronological development of Restoration doctrines, providing a better understanding in the context of what was happening in the life of the Prophet and in the Church when these doctrines were revealed and taught.
Charles Ellis Johnson and the Erotic Mormon Image by Mary Campbell. University of Chicago Press, 2016. 211pp. Hardcover/dust jacket. $45.00. On September 25, 1890, the Mormon prophet Wilford Woodruff publicly instructed his followers to abandon polygamy. In doing so, he initiated a process that would fundamentally alter the Latter-day Saints and their faith. Trading the most integral elements of their belief system for national acceptance, the Mormons recreated themselves as model Americans. Mary Campbell tells the story of this remarkable religious transformation in Charles Ellis Johnson and the Erotic Mormon Image. One of the church’s favorite photographers, Johnson (1857–1926) spent the 1890s and early 1900s taking pictures of Mormonism’s most revered figures and sacred sites. At the same time, he did a brisk business in mail-order erotica, creating and selling stereoviews that he referred to as his “spicy pictures of girls.” Situating these images within the religious, artistic, and legal culture of turn-of-the-century America, Campbell reveals the unexpected ways in which they worked to bring the Saints into the nation’s mainstream after the scandal of polygamy.
“Charles Ellis Johnson and the Erotic Mormon Image is brilliant in its persuasive interpretation of the photography of Johnson as an act of repositioning the Latter-day Saints in mainstream American society. Campbell’s extremely compelling analysis will have tremendous appeal to scholars in history of art, religious studies, American studies, and history, as well as to a larger reading public. Beautifully written and engaging, this book has my strongest endorsement.”
— Sally M. Promey, author of Painting Religion in Public: John Singer Sargent’s “Triumph of Religion” at the Boston Public Library
The Women: A Family Story by Kerry William Bate. University of Utah Press, 2016. 392pp. Hardcover/dust jacket. $39.95. Family history, usually destined or even designed for limited consumption, is a familiar genre within Mormon culture. Mostly written with little attention to standards of historical scholarship, such works are a distinctly hagiographic form of family memorabilia. But many family sagas in the right hands can prove widely engaging, owing to inherent drama and historical relevance. They can truthfully illuminate larger matters of history, humanity, and culture. Kerry Bate proceeds on the premise that a story centering on the women of the clan could provide fresh perspective and insight. He portrays real people with well-rounded, flawed characters; builds from deep research; writes with a bit of style; and includes the rich context and detail of these lives. His main subjects are four generations of impressive women: the pioneer Catherine Campbell Steele; her daughter Young Elizabeth, the first Mormon child born in Utah; Kate, an accomplished community leader; and Sarah, a gifted seamstress trapped in an unhappy marriage. To enter their hardscrabble lives in small southern Utah communities is to meet women who pioneered in their own modest but determined ways.
“A detailed, lively, local history. The author has done an astonishing amount of recording and transcribing of oral histories, and it often brings characters to life in a wonderful way.”
—Todd Compton, author of A Frontier Life: Jacob Hamblin, Explorer and Indian Missionary
The Garden of Enid: Adventures of A Weird Mormon Girl – Part 1 by Scott Hales. Greg Kofford Books, 2016. Paperback. $22.95. Fifteen-year-old Enid Gardner is a self-proclaimed “weird Mormon girl.” When she isn’t chatting with Joseph Smith or the Book of Abraham mummy, she’s searching for herself between the spaces of doubt and belief. Along the way, she must grapple with her Mormon faith as it adapts to the twenty-first century. She also must confront the painful mysteries at the heart of her strained relationship with her ailing mother. This edition of The Garden of Enid: Adventures of a Weird Mormon Girl recasts the award-winning webcomic as a two-part graphic novel (part two is forthcoming). With revised and previously unpublished comics, it features the familiar story that captivated thousands online, yet offers new glimpses into Enid’s year-long odyssey.
“There is much that Enid does not understand, just as there is much that I do not understand. But she makes me laugh, gives me hope for the future, and teaches me that it’s okay to be myself: a weird Mormon girl.”
—Jana Riess, author of Flunking Sainthood and The Twible
(limited quantities on some titles)
The Polygamous Wives Writing Club: From the Diaries of Mormon Pioneer Women by Paula Kelly Harline. Oxford University Press, 2014. Hardcover/dust jacket. Reg. $31.95, SALE $9.99. In the mid to late nineteenth century, an average of three out of every ten Mormon women became polygamous wives. Paula Kelly Harline delves deep into the diaries and autobiographies of twenty-nine such women, opening a rare window into the lives they led and revealing their views of and experiences with polygamy, including their well-founded belief that their domestic contributions would help to build a foundation for generations of future Mormons. Following two or three women simultaneously and integrating their own words within a lively narrative, Harline focuses on the detail of their emotional and domestic lives over time, painting an incredibly candid and realistic picture of 19th Century polygamy.
“Paula Harline’s treatment is a revealing if painful look into the profoundly rooted contradictions of Mormon plural marriage: she shows it to be a practice wives publicly defended while privately lamenting; one that fostered solidarity with a sisterhood burdened with ‘the principle,’ even as it fomented rivalries and sorrows within those marriages; and a practice that left a conflicting legacy of pride in the sacrifice polygamists endured, along with a persisting unease with the teachings and practices themselves.”
–Terryl L. Givens, co-author of The God Who Weeps: How Mormonism Makes Sense of Life
The Prophet and the Reformer: The Letters of Brigham Young & Thomas L. Kane ed. by Matthew J. Grow and Ronald W. Walker. Oxford University Press, 2015. Hardcover/dust jacket. Reg. $39.95, SALE $9.99. The Prophet and the Reformer offers a complete reproduction of the surviving letters between the Mormon prophet and the Philadelphia reformer. The correspondence reveals the strategies of the Latter-day Saints in relating to American culture and government during these crucial years when the “Mormon Question” was a major political, cultural, and legal issue.
“Two intriguing characters, Brigham Young and Thomas Kane, in their own words; Mormons under pressure from the United States army; the Church struggling for survival in a hostile environment while the nation goes to war with itself. They are all here in this expertly edited collection of letters and compelling narrative of two critical decades in Mormon history.”
–Richard Bushman, author of Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling
The Mormon Quest for Glory: The Religious World of the Latter-day Saints by Melvyn Hammarberg.Oxford University Press, 2013. Hardcover/dust jacket. Reg. $36.95, SALE $9.99. The best sociological study of Mormon life, Thomas O’Dea’s The Mormons, is now over fifty years old. What is it like to be a Mormon in America today? Melvyn Hammarberg attempts to answer this question by offering an ethnography of contemporary Mormons. In The Mormon Quest for Glory, Hammarberg examines Mormon history, rituals, social organization, family connections, gender roles, artistic traditions, use of media, and missionary work. He writes as a sympathetic outsider who has studied Mormon life for decades, and strives to explain the religious world of the Latter-day Saints through the lens of their own spiritual understanding.
“While several sympathetic outsider perspectives of Mormonism have appeared since [Thomas O’Dea’s The Mormons] none has captured the lived experience of the Mormon people so well Melvyn Hammarberg’s The Mormon Quest for Glory: The Religious World of the Latter-day Saints . [A] rich source for those who want to understand the lived experience of contemporary Mormonism.”
—Journal of the American Academy of Religion
A Chosen People, A Promised Land: Mormonism and Race in Hawaii by Hokulani Aikau. University of Minnesota, 2012. Paperback. Reg. $22.50, SALE $4.99. Using the words of Native Hawaiian Latter-Day Saints to illuminate the intersections of race, colonization, and religion, A Chosen People, a Promised Land examines Polynesian Mormon articulations of faith and identity within a larger political context of self-determination.
“A Chosen People, a Promised Land is a fascinating book. Attending to fraught and revealing episodes in Hawaiian-Mormon history, Hokulani K. Aikau opens up new terrain for historical analysis in a manner that is theoretically engaged yet accessible.”
—Greg Johnson, author of Sacred Claims: Repatriation and Living Tradition
The Bible Tells Me So…Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable to Read It by Peter Enns. HarperOne, 2014. Hardcover/dust jacket. Reg. $25.99, SALE $20.99. The Bible Tells Me So chronicles Enns’s spiritual odyssey, how he came to see beyond restrictive doctrine and learned to embrace God’s Word as it is actually written. As he explores questions progressive evangelical readers of Scripture commonly face yet fear voicing, Enns reveals that they are the very questions that God wants us to consider—the essence of our spiritual study.
“Cross a stand-up comic, a robust theological mind, a college professor, and a decent normal guy, and what do you get? Peter Enns. And what does he write? A super-enjoyable, highly informative, disarmingly honest, and downright liberating book. The message of this book needs to get out. Fast.”
–Brian McLaren, author of A New Kind of Christianity
A Visual History of the English Bible: The Tumultuous Tale of the World’s Bestselling Book by Donald L. Brake. Baker, 2008. Hardcover/dust jacket. Reg. $29.99, SALE $7.99. With a full color layout and over one hundred illustrations, A Visual History of the English Bible covers the fascinating journey of the Bible from the pulpit to the people. Renowned biblical scholar Donald L. Brake invites readers to explore the process of transformation from medieval manuscripts to the contemporary translations of our day. Along the way, readers will meet many heroes of the faith–men and women who preserved and published the Scriptures, often at risk of their own lives.
“Brake opens up a world of information about the English Bible. I found myself repeating the exclamation, ‘I didn’t know that!’ I have several popular books on the history of the English Bible, but none that so thoroughly addresses the historical background of those hoary tomes of the Reformation era as does Brake’s.”
–Daniel B. Wallace, executive director, The Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts
The Great American West: Pursuing the American Dream by Kenneth W. Rendell. Whitman, 2013. Hardback. Reg. $29.95, SALE $9.99. In The Great American West: Pursuing the American Dream, Rendell serves up a combination of the engaging text and dramatic imagery that made his book World War II:Saving the Reality such a popular seller. Readers will see dozens of Western artifacts and relics, letters from famous outlaws, old newspaper clippings, historical maps and posters, and other rarities make the American West come alive — a once-in-a-lifetime experience to be shared with the whole family. Includes a chapter on Mormons.
Everything I Need to Know About Christmas I Learned From a Little Golden Book by Diane Muldrow. Golden Books, 2014. Hardcover. Reg. $9.99, SALE $3.99. The Poky Little Puppy, the Gingerbread Man, and many other classic Golden Books characters help illustrate this wise and witty guide to the holidays! Delightfully retro yet utterly of the moment, this companion to the bestselling EVERYTHING NEED TO KNOW I LEARNED FROM A LITTLE GOLDEN BOOK will delight fans of those gold foil-spined treasures.
The Art of the Bookstore: The Bookstore Paintings of Gibbs M. Smith by Gibbs M. Smith. Gibbs Smith, 2009. Hardcover in slipcase. Reg. $35.00, SALE $9.99. For several decades, publisher Gibbs Smith has been visiting independent booksellers around the country. Inspired by the unique culture and ambiance of these fine bookstores, he made oil paintings to feature on the covers of his publishing company’s catalog each season. This collection of 68 paintings, accompanied by essays about the art of the bookstore, captures the distinctive atmosphere of each establishment, from the bright lights of Washington D.C.’s Politics & Prose to the tucked away charm of Chicago’s Kroch’s & Brentano’s to the magnetism of New York’s Shakespeare & Co. Bookstore.
Surprised by Scripture: Engaging Contemporary Issues by N.T. Wright. HarperOne, 2014. Hardcover/dust jacket. Reg. $24.99, SALE $8.99. Helpful, practical, and wise, Surprised by Scripture invites readers to examine their own hearts and minds and presents new models for understanding how to affirm the Bible in today’s world—as well as new ideas and renewed energy for deepening our faith and engaging with the world around us.
“Pithy prose and compassionate and serious biblical interpretation. . . . To reveal some of Wright’s conclusions would be like leaking cinematic spoilers; such is the inventive and surprising way that Wright brings the Bible to bear on current, and vexatious, affairs.”
We have also added new titles to our markdown section–come see if there are classics that catch your eye!