We are going to have an ongoing display here in the store with our staff picks. Periodically, we will choose a genre, author, subject, etc. and each of us will submit our favorite. We will write a paragraph or two explaining why we like the book and then display them here. During the period while they are on display, they will be 10% off.
For the maiden voyage, we have each selected a favorite biography. Feel free to comment on our choices and chime in with your own pick!
Why: Since I have been interested in LDS Church history for decades, I find that the biographies that include their personal involvement in the events during the 1800’s are the ones I enjoy reading the most. David W Patten (1799-1838) was the 11th child in a family of 13 children. Being an only child myself, I love reading about large LDS families. David exemplified many of the qualities I admire in a person: dedication, loyalty, bravery, spirituality, leadership, to name a few. He was known for his gift of healing, and during his eight missions for the Church he blessed thousands of people with this gift. He also spoke in tongues during the Kirtland Temple dedication. He valiantly stood by Joseph Smith during the dark days of 1837-38, which I greatly admire. His bravery was evident in his position as Captain of the Cavalry of the Mormon Militia, becoming known as “Captain Fearnot”. As probably the first apostolic martyr in this dispensation, he died as a result of his wounds during the Battle of Crooked River.
new paperback: $14.95
Why: This grisly but fascinating book fills in many of the gaps left out when the story of Susan Powell’s disappearance made national headlines a few years ago. Josh Powell was always a suspect in Susan’s disappearance, but was never arrested for the crime. The accounts in this book make this fact even more incredulous. Since his childhood, he portrayed all the characteristics of a serial killer: childhood abuse, the killing of small animals, including his sister’s pet, the need for control, lack of empathy, and ultimately, murder. Combining a secret journal Susan Powell kept and investigative reporting, If I Can’t Have You, weaves a tale of pain, a family in fear, and a quest for answers. Five stars.
new hardback–reg. $26.99, sale $17.99
Why: John Turner has done nearly the impossible: researched the much written about life of one of Mormonism’s and America’s most fascinating and compelling characters, Brigham Young, and produced an excellent, balanced, and compelling biography of him—in fact, the best one to date, in my opinion. Be aware that this is a “warts and all,” realistic look at the life of the “Pioneer Prophet,” but I believe it is ultimately fair and even-handed. It is to the author’s credit that most readers—who don’t already know—cannot tell whether he is Mormon or not (and I’m not telling). Brigham Young comes across as a man who achieved greatness in many ways, but who was quite human and had foibles and weaknesses as well as strengths. Philip Barlow says that Turner’s book “takes it place alongside Leonard Arrington’s magisterial American Moses to form the essential, mutually challenging portraits of one of America’s greatest colonizers and religious figures.” However, if you can read only one book on the life of Brigham Young, choose John Turner’s masterful work.
Why: The story of Orrin Porter Rockwell has been told in many different places. He is portrayed as a bodyguard to Joseph Smith (who wasn’t, right?), a Danite, a great scout and hunter for the pioneer trek, a fighter and later a U.S. Marshal. Schindler gets all the known facts about this fascinating character. I loved reading it when I was just a teenager and had the special experience of getting to know the author and hearing many of the stories from the book from his lips. I have read it several times since then and it stands as one of my favorite LDS biographies. Schindler’s footnoting is extensive and indicates the amount of research that went into this book’s publication. There are many books out there that tell stories about “old Port” but nothing comes close to the accuracy and detail of this one.
new paperback (rev. 2nd ed.)–$21.95
used hardback (rev. 2nd ed.)–$30
used hardback (rev. 2nd ed.), signed–$35
used hardback (1st ed.)–$40
used hardback (1st ed., scarce pictorial dust jacket)–$100
Why: Every time I see copies of this at the DI, I always wonder how many people that gave this book up ever read it. If they didn’t, they missed out on a treasure. In my opinion, Ed (Kimball’s son) and Andrew (his nephew) achieved the perfect blend of familiarity and distance in order to craft an incredibly candid and readable biography. The authors used Kimball’s voluminous journals to add details and flavor to their narrative. I’ve read this several times and, every time I do, I love the honest story of a simple man who eventually wielded great power, most often in the favor of the less privileged.
used hardback, no dust jacket, signed by Edward–$10
used hardback, 1st printing–$15
used hardback, form letter w/ printed Dallin H. oaks signature laid in–$20
used hardback, inscribed by Pres Kimball–$100