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Founded in 1830, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was initially perceived as a movement of polygamous, radical zealots; now in parts of the U.S. it has become synonymous with the establishment. In reevaluating its preoccupation with issues of church and state, Abanes uncovers the political agenda at Mormonism's core: the transformation of the world into a th Founded in 1830, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was initially perceived as a movement of polygamous, radical zealots; now in parts of the U.S. it has become synonymous with the establishment. In reevaluating its preoccupation with issues of church and state, Abanes uncovers the political agenda at Mormonism's core: the transformation of the world into a theocratic kingdom under Mormon authority. This illustrated edition has been revised and offers a new postscript by the author.


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Founded in 1830, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was initially perceived as a movement of polygamous, radical zealots; now in parts of the U.S. it has become synonymous with the establishment. In reevaluating its preoccupation with issues of church and state, Abanes uncovers the political agenda at Mormonism's core: the transformation of the world into a th Founded in 1830, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was initially perceived as a movement of polygamous, radical zealots; now in parts of the U.S. it has become synonymous with the establishment. In reevaluating its preoccupation with issues of church and state, Abanes uncovers the political agenda at Mormonism's core: the transformation of the world into a theocratic kingdom under Mormon authority. This illustrated edition has been revised and offers a new postscript by the author.

30 review for One Nation Under Gods: A History of the Mormon Church

  1. 4 out of 5

    Colleen

    Having read "The Book of Mormon", I wondered exactly what kind of mind it would take to actually believe the nonsense that Joseph Smith made up. This book tells the truth (and has the footnotes to back it up)regarding the history of the Mormon church and its mind control tactics-and continue to this day. I would defy anyone who is an active member of the Mormon church to really question their elders about why Joseph Smith really blew it when deciphering the Egyptian hyroglyphics contained with t Having read "The Book of Mormon", I wondered exactly what kind of mind it would take to actually believe the nonsense that Joseph Smith made up. This book tells the truth (and has the footnotes to back it up)regarding the history of the Mormon church and its mind control tactics-and continue to this day. I would defy anyone who is an active member of the Mormon church to really question their elders about why Joseph Smith really blew it when deciphering the Egyptian hyroglyphics contained with the mummy and why NO HISTORY, DNA EVIDENCE THAT AMERICAN INDIANS HAVE ANY HEBREW RELATION, or ARCHEOLOGICAL FINDINGS can come close to verifying that one shred of what is written is even remotely the truth. These elders will either tell the person that they are lacking faith and need to look within themselves for the truth or excommunicate them from the church. I would also defy any professor at BYU to teach any courses that would legitimately challenge these teachings. Proves why of the eight "witnesses" to Smith's translation of the "tablets" that only two were left---and he was related to both of them. Clearly proves that there are only two types of Mormons---the deceivers or the deceived.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lori Jensen

    Coming from an LDS background, I decided to read this book because I wanted to read LDS church history from someone without a LDS church bias (it also had some really good reviews on Amazon). Of course, this book isn't without the authors bias, but it seems to be a lot more accurate and objective than the history taught in our church. This book claims some harsh realities, that are especially hard to accept having been told a completely different version in sunday school. Except for names, dates Coming from an LDS background, I decided to read this book because I wanted to read LDS church history from someone without a LDS church bias (it also had some really good reviews on Amazon). Of course, this book isn't without the authors bias, but it seems to be a lot more accurate and objective than the history taught in our church. This book claims some harsh realities, that are especially hard to accept having been told a completely different version in sunday school. Except for names, dates, and places the facts are very different from the faith promoting stories I have been taught. I thought this book was a really good read. His style of writing was easy for me to follow, I really liked how well documented it was, and I feel like it gave an excellent overview of the Mormon Church's history.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jordan

    This was a fascinating look at the early roots of the Mormon religion. Meticulously footnoted, it remains very readable and in parts quite surprising, especially in explaining the history of Joseph Smith's family, early life, interaction with other faith traditions, and Brigham Youngs reign over early Utah. I highly recommend anyone interested in.the LDS faith read this book. This was a fascinating look at the early roots of the Mormon religion. Meticulously footnoted, it remains very readable and in parts quite surprising, especially in explaining the history of Joseph Smith's family, early life, interaction with other faith traditions, and Brigham Youngs reign over early Utah. I highly recommend anyone interested in.the LDS faith read this book.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Minotaur Mangum

    Richard Abanes does have some skills as a historian. This is a thoroughly researched book. The endnotes and bibliography take up a full 200 of its more than 600 pages. While none of the controversies of Mormon history on examination here are new, this book does serve as a valuable omnibus. But rest assured, it is not a history. It's an expose, sort of like Going Clear was for Scientology. It's a 5-star expose, but only a 3-star history. And extensive research doesn't equal objective research. Ab Richard Abanes does have some skills as a historian. This is a thoroughly researched book. The endnotes and bibliography take up a full 200 of its more than 600 pages. While none of the controversies of Mormon history on examination here are new, this book does serve as a valuable omnibus. But rest assured, it is not a history. It's an expose, sort of like Going Clear was for Scientology. It's a 5-star expose, but only a 3-star history. And extensive research doesn't equal objective research. Abanes has chosen in every instance to accept the view of the apostates and naysayers. (For the record, I happen to think this side is the better bet. I infinitely prefer this axe-grinding narrative to the official sanitized pabulum of the LDS Church. The bare facts themselves make for damn fascinating reading.) Whether you are Mormon or not, the first thing you have to understand is that Richard Abanes is an evangelical Christian. I realize this sounds like poisoning the well, but it is useful context in understanding the purpose of this book, a context not given by Abanes himself, who has also authored attacks on Eckhart Tolle, the Harry Potter books, and The Da Vinci Code. It doesn't invalidate most of the claims he makes against Joseph Smith and the LDS Church. As long as the book remains a historical narrative, it's not really relevant. But then, late in the book, you get the chapter "Is Mormonism Christian?" which seeks not only to strip Mormonism of its claims to mainstream respectability it so eagerly covets, but to brand it as a dangerous cult, and it suddenly becomes highly relevant. This chapter alone knocks my rating from 4 stars to 3.  While I rate Abanes' research skills fairly well, he is manifestly unfit as a sociologist of religion and a simply shoddy philosopher. Example: "Rather than asking 'Are Mormons Christian?,' a better question would be 'Are Christians Mormon?' An affirmative answer to the first question certainly would mean an affirmative answer to the second one." Um, no it wouldn't. If Socrates is a man, is a man then Socrates? Abanes never identifies any core principle that defines Christianity, so his Christianity appears to be circularly defined: a true Christian church is one with Christian beliefs, and Christian beliefs are those believed by true Christians.  The ultimate problem is not that this is a warts-and-all history. It's that it's just a warts history. Abanes is exclusively focused on Mormon misdeeds, on the cracks in the saintly facade, and as important as all that is, one is left with some nagging questions, such as how the whole scam managed to last any longer than other apocalyptic cults that sprung like weeds in that era, such as the Millerites and the Shakers. What drew in converts and what sustained them through such hardship as they clearly suffered (and inflicted, to be sure)? In particular, I was puzzled as to how a polygamous society actually worked, since by simple math only the elite crust of males can successfully practice it. These are the kinds of questions that professional historians ask, and seek to answer. They don't occur to Abanes. But the story remains enthralling, often galling. Yes, there's an agenda here, but the Saints have earned their licks. If they can gird themselves with thicker skin in addition to the armor of the Lord, they're in for a good read.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ashley Pritchard

    As someone that grew up in an LDS home I can honestly say this was NOT the history I knew. Many things were correct and I read this after becoming Christian and wanting to understand where the differences were. Its an eye opening book. I appreciate all of the research and work that was put into it.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Marc

    If you are looking for an accurate history of the Mormon church that reads like a novel with plenty of documentation and source material citations to back up the information, this is probably your best choice and the most comprehensive book of its type out there.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Crawford

    Much of what I say will simply echo other reviewers, but here I go anyways. The first fifteen to sixteen chapters are pretty good, almost five star level - very readable, well-sourced, and informative. I've already put the memoirs of several ex-Mormons mentioned in the book on my to-buy list (and I am hard-pressed to see how Mormons can ignore them, but they do nonetheless, even on this very website). Where the problem comes in is particularly in the seventeenth chapter, where Abanes reveals his h Much of what I say will simply echo other reviewers, but here I go anyways. The first fifteen to sixteen chapters are pretty good, almost five star level - very readable, well-sourced, and informative. I've already put the memoirs of several ex-Mormons mentioned in the book on my to-buy list (and I am hard-pressed to see how Mormons can ignore them, but they do nonetheless, even on this very website). Where the problem comes in is particularly in the seventeenth chapter, where Abanes reveals his hand rather clumsily: he's an evangelical Christian. His answer to the question, "Are Mormons Christians?" is based on his own somewhat distorted version of what he thinks Christianity is. I come at this problem from an Orthodox Christian perspective, so I see the problem a little differently. By Abanes' rather laughable definitions, Orthodox Christianity would be considered, "not Christian", even though we're widely acknowledged even by secular and Protestant scholars as the oldest "branch" of Christianity. We're in the position to rule him out as a Christian for having different beliefs than the early Church, including a different canon of Scripture and a host of beliefs like Sola Scriptura which came along with the Reformation and post-Reformation era. I guess I'm frustrated because Abanes no doubt relies on many of the same narratives that Mormons themselves use to justify their beliefs: that the early Church somehow became corrupted, or obscured, or apostatized, or went into captivity, etc., just waiting for God to inspire Martin Luther to "rediscover" the ancient Church and its beliefs. You can just about literally swap Joseph Smith for Martin Luther and the story is basically the same. In other words, Mormons, in my opinion, are certainly not Christians, but they are Protestants, or at a minimum the logical outcome of the Protestant movement (along with Seventh-Day Adventists, Christian Science, the Watchtower Society, etc.). Abanes probably hasn't thought that deeply about the issues at stake, and it grates on my nerves (and apparently those of a lot of reviewers). Overall, I'm going to keep looking for a better go-to-guide to Mormonism. This one is a little biased when it shouldn't have been.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Brett

    All I can say is, if you are a Mormon, you better be sitting down if you choose to read this. I suggest anyone researching Mormonism to read this after reading Fawn Brodie, Grant Palmer and Todd Compton's books. This book holds no punches. In the end, this book points to the facts do not support the religion. It tells it like it is and its not very graceful as fact over fact is presented. It is however 100% accurate, I could not find anything inaccurate about this book (and that was my focus thr All I can say is, if you are a Mormon, you better be sitting down if you choose to read this. I suggest anyone researching Mormonism to read this after reading Fawn Brodie, Grant Palmer and Todd Compton's books. This book holds no punches. In the end, this book points to the facts do not support the religion. It tells it like it is and its not very graceful as fact over fact is presented. It is however 100% accurate, I could not find anything inaccurate about this book (and that was my focus throughout reading it). Only one chapter has personal views near the end and Richard makes it clear that is the case. But this book goes into facts that Mormons either do not know, or do not talk or think about and could be offensive to a true believing Mormon. This book is well recognized for its articulately and scholarly documentation of sources. When I contacted Richard Abanes I was shocked that he was not a Mormon and never was because he had a very good understanding of the religion. But Richard is a Christian Minister researcher who despite his one - two knock out, is a very pleasant and nice man. Richard wanted to present his research and the facts about Mormonism and he does that in this book. I gave it 5 stars because of its ability to cover all the issues of Mormonism in one succinct book, something I have not found elsewhere. Most books focus on one problem of Mormonism and it is easy to dismiss that single issue and ignore the bulk of issues that way, this presents all the Mormon issues in one source. Again, if you are looking for history and to understand Mormonism, read this last, it brings it all together but the reader should have some in depth Mormon research background before tackling this read.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Randy

    I read this a number of years ago t the request of a cousin who thought it might help me better understand his misgivings about Mormonism. Unfortunately, Abanes parades anti-Mormonism under the guise of "unbiased" scholarship. To his credit, Abanes did a thorough job and his bibliography is frankly astounding. The problem is, as I pointed out to my cousin, I could write a book about the world being flat that included a hundred pages of first hand accounts and relevant historical source material I read this a number of years ago t the request of a cousin who thought it might help me better understand his misgivings about Mormonism. Unfortunately, Abanes parades anti-Mormonism under the guise of "unbiased" scholarship. To his credit, Abanes did a thorough job and his bibliography is frankly astounding. The problem is, as I pointed out to my cousin, I could write a book about the world being flat that included a hundred pages of first hand accounts and relevant historical source material to verify and substantiate my claims. A huge bibliography does not truth make. Abanes claims to be writing a book on the history of the church but it's clear he has an axe to grind in the name of his idea of Christianity. What could have been a thorough and insightful portrayal of all aspects of the Latter Day Saints is revealed early on to be nothing more than a heavy volume of anti-Mormon propaganda only minimally more accurate but every bit as sensational as Ed Decker's "the Godmakers."

  10. 5 out of 5

    Tom James

    The history of the Mormon church is every bit as fascinating, scandalous, and horrifying as you could imagine. Abanes takes the reader all the way back to the beginning with the shady life of Joseph Smith and his successor, "bloody" Brigham Young. Mormonism is not as squeaky-clean as their media image. The book also touches on a number of the theological distinctives of Mormonism and concludes that it is definitely not Christian. The history of the Mormon church is every bit as fascinating, scandalous, and horrifying as you could imagine. Abanes takes the reader all the way back to the beginning with the shady life of Joseph Smith and his successor, "bloody" Brigham Young. Mormonism is not as squeaky-clean as their media image. The book also touches on a number of the theological distinctives of Mormonism and concludes that it is definitely not Christian.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Regina

    Scary, scary book that people should read to get a good handle on what the Mormon "religion" really is and isn't....Christianity it is NOT! Scary, scary book that people should read to get a good handle on what the Mormon "religion" really is and isn't....Christianity it is NOT!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Alyssa

    Thorough, incredibly well-cited, and fascinating history and explanation of the Mormon Church. I am impressed with the amount of sources the author was able to reference.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jim Burkhart

    Reading a book like this is not productive. The devil's advocate is defined as a person who expresses a contentious opinion in order to provoke debate or test the strength of the opposing arguments. Efforts like this are applauded by the Adversary. Is his work part of the solution or part of the problem? Look at what has taken place in the religious landscape of the United States in just the past decade. According to the Pew Research Center "telephone surveys conducted in 2018 and 2019, 65% of A Reading a book like this is not productive. The devil's advocate is defined as a person who expresses a contentious opinion in order to provoke debate or test the strength of the opposing arguments. Efforts like this are applauded by the Adversary. Is his work part of the solution or part of the problem? Look at what has taken place in the religious landscape of the United States in just the past decade. According to the Pew Research Center "telephone surveys conducted in 2018 and 2019, 65% of American adults describe themselves as Christians when asked about their religion, down 12 percentage points over the past decade. Meanwhile, the religiously unaffiliated share of the population, consisting of people who describe their religious identity as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular,” now stands at 26%, up from 17% in 2009. Both Protestantism and Catholicism are experiencing losses of population share. Currently, 43% of U.S. adults identify with Protestantism, down from 51% in 2009. And one-in-five adults (20%) are Catholic, down from 23% in 2009. Meanwhile, all subsets of the religiously unaffiliated population – a group also known as religious “nones” – have seen their numbers swell. Self-described atheists now account for 4% of U.S. adults, up modestly but significantly from 2% in 2009; agnostics make up 5% of U.S. adults, up from 3% a decade ago; and 17% of Americans now describe their religion as “nothing in particular,” up from 12% in 2009." According to the Latter Day Saint website, worldwide members grew from 13.5 million to 16.5 million during that same decade. US members as of 12/31/2018 account for roughly 6.7 million. As a percentage of the US population that is still a paltry 2.3%. Atheists nearly double the LDS numbers! Has contention among Christ-centered religions perhaps influenced souls to join the "nothing in particular" or Godless category? What if Abanes spent as much time and effort on missionary work? Was he part of the solution or part of the problem back in 2002 while Christian based religions were losing ground. Abanes could actually generate a positive message by going on a mission for his church for two years and write about all hearts he changed. From the New Testament "He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep." John 21:17 Who is Abanes feeding with this work? Is he following even the First and Greatest Commandment? "My beloved brothers and sisters, I am not certain just what our experience will be on Judgment Day, but I will be very surprised if at some point in that conversation, God does not ask us exactly what Christ asked Peter: “Did you love me?” I think He will want to know if in our very mortal, very inadequate, and sometimes childish grasp of things, did we at least understand one commandment, the first and greatest commandment of them all—“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind.” And if at such a moment we can stammer out, “Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee,” then He may remind us that the crowning characteristic of love is always loyalty. “If ye love me, keep my commandments,” Jesus said. So we have neighbors to bless, children to protect, the poor to lift up, and the truth to defend. We have wrongs to make right, truths to share, and good to do. In short, we have a life of devoted discipleship to give in demonstrating our love of the Lord. We can’t quit and we can’t go back. The Crucifixion, Atonement, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ mark the beginning of a Christian life, not the end of it. It was this truth, this reality, that allowed a handful of Galilean fishermen-turned-again-Apostles without “a single synagogue or sword” to leave those nets a second time and go on to shape the history of the world in which we now live." Jeffrey R. Holland, LDS General Conference October 2012 We as a Christian body must be united, centered and focused on our love for Him who infinitely atoned for all sin, your, mine and yes even Abanes. Since this review was posted during the COVID pandemic we were unable to attend our Easter services, I extend my prayers for health and prosperity to all. May your home be filled with the Spirit of Christ with all glory to the Father.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jackie

    This book surprised me, as I was unaware that a book such as this existed. The author makes his arguments with quotes from original LDS sources, which are verifiable. It reads easily, and its content was mostly new to me. I enjoyed this book for its research, its writing, and its content.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Maegan Spivey

    I appreciated the well researched tone of this book. It was well put together for packing so much together. Would highly recommend to anyone who wants to know more about their Mormon neighbor beyond what you learn from the door to door missionaries.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    This was a very well researched history of the Mormon Church in its infancy, starting with the Smith family of Vermont. It was quite an eye opener. Some call the Mormon Church a Cult and after reading this book I quite agree.

  17. 4 out of 5

    JohnClellan

    Nice intro

  18. 5 out of 5

    Troy Mattila

    I was really hoping for an objective look at the history of the Mormon Church, and this didn't cut it. The book is well researched and includes lots of interesting historical information, but the clear agenda of the author to present Mormons as dangerous, immoral, illogical people is overwhelming and a bit exhausting to sift through. This wouldn't bother me too much, if it wasn't so clear the author is pro-Christianity, but the argument being made is essentially that reason and logic play no par I was really hoping for an objective look at the history of the Mormon Church, and this didn't cut it. The book is well researched and includes lots of interesting historical information, but the clear agenda of the author to present Mormons as dangerous, immoral, illogical people is overwhelming and a bit exhausting to sift through. This wouldn't bother me too much, if it wasn't so clear the author is pro-Christianity, but the argument being made is essentially that reason and logic play no part for Mormons because they accept outlandish claims, without admitting that this could just as easily be said about many Christian claims (or religious claims in general). To note a few points, the introduction more than implies that Mormons have a secret plan to take over the U.S. government, the author takes statements made by individual Mormons and generalizes them to mean all Mormons agree (even generations later), and, my favorite quote (trying to show that Mormons aren't Christians): "Rather than asking 'Are Mormons Christian?,' a better question would be 'Are Christians Mormon?' An affirmative answer to the first question certainly would mean an affirmative answer to the second one" (390). For those of you wondering why that line of reasoning is ridiculous, change the word "Mormon" out for any denomination you like (e.g. Catholic). If you still don't see why that is ridiculous, buy this book. You will really like it. Much like the example above, I don't necessarily disagree with the author's conclusions, but his reasoning is pretty terrible. This book is worth the read if you have the mental energy to constantly sort opinions and negative connotations from the facts, which are plentiful.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Yes, it took me months to read this, but that's really because it's so dense and I spent so much time flipping from the general text to the back third of the book, which is all of the citations and footnotes. I'm glad I made it through the entire book, however, as this is a very smart and well-constructed history of the LDS church, beginning with Joseph Smith before his First Vision and all the way up through the early 21st Century. It covers just about everything that you'd like to read, and wh Yes, it took me months to read this, but that's really because it's so dense and I spent so much time flipping from the general text to the back third of the book, which is all of the citations and footnotes. I'm glad I made it through the entire book, however, as this is a very smart and well-constructed history of the LDS church, beginning with Joseph Smith before his First Vision and all the way up through the early 21st Century. It covers just about everything that you'd like to read, and while there is a slightly-evangelical bent (or, really, at least the perspective is from a Christian who is also a researcher and historian) Abanes presents everything with very well-documented quotes and sources. He uses both LDS material AND outside of the LDS material, which means that the history is much fuller and accurate than anything you would get from a primarily Mormon historian. After all, Mormon Apostle Boyd K. Packer said in 1994, “I have a hard time with historians... because they idolize the truth. The truth is not uplifting; it destroys. Historians should tell only that part of the truth that is inspiring and uplifting.” What Abanes does here is take the truth and the facts and the history of the LDS church that the LDS church would rather not talk about, and makes sure it's all there. I'd recommend One Nation Under Gods to anyone interested in the history of the LDS church from a non-Mormon perspective. If you're looking for a Mormon perspective, you can find the history and documentation on the official LDS websites.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Aimee

    The book looks a bit overwelming at first site, being a very large book, but is a very easy read. This is a history of the Mormon religion from an outsider's point of view, starting with history of Joseph Smith himself to the many towns they were chased out of to their final settlement in Utah and up to the present day. Some of the information towards the end may be viewed more as editorial than factual, but if the book were viewed as a thesis, the ending arguement is very convincing. I found it The book looks a bit overwelming at first site, being a very large book, but is a very easy read. This is a history of the Mormon religion from an outsider's point of view, starting with history of Joseph Smith himself to the many towns they were chased out of to their final settlement in Utah and up to the present day. Some of the information towards the end may be viewed more as editorial than factual, but if the book were viewed as a thesis, the ending arguement is very convincing. I found it to be very enlightening. Living just 10 or so miles away from Nauvoo, Illinois (their last settlement before going to Utah), most of the history that the Mormon's present to the general public is biased in their favor and you never really understand the anger of the non-Mormon neighbors. This history explains more about what happened in better detail.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Malcolm

    This is written by a fundamentalist Christian and it shows. The bad thing about a book written by someone with an anti-Mormon agenda is twofold. First, it looks like an objective history, but isn't, and Second, the fact that the author is so blatantly anti-nonChristian (he has a whole section where he engages in a semantic game about what is and is not Christian, with the goal of showing that Mormons, despite what they might say, are not Christian) will give True Believing Mormons who read this This is written by a fundamentalist Christian and it shows. The bad thing about a book written by someone with an anti-Mormon agenda is twofold. First, it looks like an objective history, but isn't, and Second, the fact that the author is so blatantly anti-nonChristian (he has a whole section where he engages in a semantic game about what is and is not Christian, with the goal of showing that Mormons, despite what they might say, are not Christian) will give True Believing Mormons who read this a reason to dismiss all of the facts in the book. And this doesn't need to be tested, because there are several reviews on this site from obviously practicing Mormons who have decided to discard all the evidence for all the nasty things the LDS church has done due to the fact that this book was written by someone with motives other than presenting and unbiased history.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    It's not often I have any interest in any nonfiction book, but after being told a slim bit about Joseph Smith, Jr., and finding out, on my own, some bizarre stuff about him, the title caught my attention. Not only is the historical info about the church very useful, I found out about the polytheistic, racist, and exceptionally narrow-minded views of the *older* Mormon church. Even though some of the info is outdated due to the church reforming and updating bits of their theology to catch up with It's not often I have any interest in any nonfiction book, but after being told a slim bit about Joseph Smith, Jr., and finding out, on my own, some bizarre stuff about him, the title caught my attention. Not only is the historical info about the church very useful, I found out about the polytheistic, racist, and exceptionally narrow-minded views of the *older* Mormon church. Even though some of the info is outdated due to the church reforming and updating bits of their theology to catch up with the times, I did use a lot of the info within to ask things to Mormons. Turns out, this is still accurate.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Devon

    Absolutely love this book. Best reading decision I've made in a long time. I only wish the editing had been meticulous - lots of annoying typos. But the info is referenced with an appendix section nearly as long as the book, and the writing is very clear and well argued, and a heavy indictment of the LDS church. I think I'll move next to reading actual LDS scriptural texts. I wanna see exactly what is said about things like the cursedness of dark-skinned people, the brotherhood of Jesus & Lucife Absolutely love this book. Best reading decision I've made in a long time. I only wish the editing had been meticulous - lots of annoying typos. But the info is referenced with an appendix section nearly as long as the book, and the writing is very clear and well argued, and a heavy indictment of the LDS church. I think I'll move next to reading actual LDS scriptural texts. I wanna see exactly what is said about things like the cursedness of dark-skinned people, the brotherhood of Jesus & Lucifer, pre-existence, and so-on.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    This book isn’t for the casual reader - I think it’s around 450 pages of rigorously footnoted text, and another 100 pages just of footnotes. It is THOROUGH. It’s a fascinating look at the rise of a cult-ish new religious movement that occurred in recent history. There are lots of actual newspaper articles, county records and other original materials to support historians in documenting every aspect of Mormonism’s past. When you think about it, that’s really incredible.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Reed

    While touted as an "objective" history of the LDS Church, the author can't hide his obvious inclinations. That being said, I felt he did his homework and the "facts" presented speak for themselves. Whether you're accustomed to the Mormon's sanitized version of their church history or the clearly biased anti-Mormon perspective, this book hits closer to the truth than either one and therefore is the closest thing to an objective accounting that I have read. While touted as an "objective" history of the LDS Church, the author can't hide his obvious inclinations. That being said, I felt he did his homework and the "facts" presented speak for themselves. Whether you're accustomed to the Mormon's sanitized version of their church history or the clearly biased anti-Mormon perspective, this book hits closer to the truth than either one and therefore is the closest thing to an objective accounting that I have read.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jamie E

    I kept thinking this book was going to be exponentially more interesting than it was and consequently, I just kept reading it. It's long and laborious and has no pay off for your labors. Plus, while I don't completely doubt it's accuracy, there was just nothing juicy enough to keep my attention. I quit with about 2 chapters to go...a rarity for me. I kept thinking this book was going to be exponentially more interesting than it was and consequently, I just kept reading it. It's long and laborious and has no pay off for your labors. Plus, while I don't completely doubt it's accuracy, there was just nothing juicy enough to keep my attention. I quit with about 2 chapters to go...a rarity for me.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Stina

    This book was riveting. Not only did it fully trace the rise of one of America's homegrown religions but it also detailed out the fascinating history of the state of Utah from Mormon promised land to statehood. This book was riveting. Not only did it fully trace the rise of one of America's homegrown religions but it also detailed out the fascinating history of the state of Utah from Mormon promised land to statehood.

  28. 4 out of 5

    John

    This book is kind of a hatchet job, but it's expertly researched and compulsively readable. If you know nothing about the controversies of Mormonism, this might be a good place to start, but shouldn't be your only source. This book is kind of a hatchet job, but it's expertly researched and compulsively readable. If you know nothing about the controversies of Mormonism, this might be a good place to start, but shouldn't be your only source.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Genevra Littlejohn

    Intensely researched, and aside from a slightly-biased chapter on whether or not the LDS church can be regarded as Christian, the information is handed out plainly and without motive. Recommended for people looking for a history of the Church that's unvarnished by either love or hate. Intensely researched, and aside from a slightly-biased chapter on whether or not the LDS church can be regarded as Christian, the information is handed out plainly and without motive. Recommended for people looking for a history of the Church that's unvarnished by either love or hate.

  30. 5 out of 5

    David

    This is a very long, informative, well-cited and perfectly titled book that chronicles the wacky and occasionally violent history of the Mormon church. It will leave you with an all new appreciation for religious self-deception.

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