First I'll make clear that this is an account of Joseph Smith's life as if being told by the journal entries of a fictional character who became friends with him and witnessed most of the major events of the early religion as it developed during the life of its founder. However, the accounts being retold by the fictional friend are drawn from actual historical accounts given by others and Joseph Smith himself during that time. The author took care to research heavily into what life would have been like during the early 1800's in New York, Ohio, Missouri, Illinois, etc. and recounts the historical events in the form of a story. For this reason it was a very easy read, and at times even humorous in the hway its recounted which made it enjoyable.
The book gave me an appreciation for the persecution and trials that early Mormon's went through, especially the treatment they received when trying to settle peacefully in Missouri, and how the mobs were relentless in their criminal behavior toward these people who wanted only to practice their religion in peace. Their towns were pillaged and burned, some Mormons were massacred (most egregiously at Haun's Mill), other horrific crimes were committed against men and women alike. It amazed me that american citizens were allowed to be persecuted like this on the basis of their religion in this country, but then again, similar atrocities and worse were of course committed toward the slaves during this time, so I supposed it shouldn't be that unbelievable.
Members of the Mormon church will gain a new appreciation for their heritage and the trials experienced by early members. Those who aren't members or who aren't familiar with the history of Mormonism will notice that the author is a member of the Mormon faith and tells his story in such a way that is very positive toward the early leaders of the church; but also is not shy about discussing struggles, rebellions from within, criticisms and arguments made by enemies of the church, etc.
Overall a great read (or listen), I didn't want to turn it off.
Warning- the only bad thing is that I almost had to remove a star because the end of the book stopped so abruptly and without enough closure, followed by an Epilogue with a nasty twist that I really didn't like and didn't think was necessary. I did like the book, just wish I didn't read the epilogue!
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