Remini's vital portrait contextualizes Smith's enduring contribution to American life and culture within the distinctive characteristics of an extraordinary age.
©2002 Robert V. Remini; (P)2002 Books on Tape, Inc.
"Impressive scholarship with a riveting narrative." (The New York Review of Books)
Whether or not you like Joseph Smith, I think you'll find this book somewhat lacking. If you are LDS and believe Joseph Smith is a true Prophet of God, you'll be disappointed in how skeptical the author is; given his knowledge, background, and the wealth of information he was given for his book. Conversely, if you think Joseph Smith was a pretender and liar; you'll be disappointed in the author's care of Joseph's history and the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The author misses the point that the works of Joseph Smith comprise the keystone of one of the fastest growing Churchs in the world; thus you cannot ride the fence on Joseph Smith or the Book of Mormon; he was either a Prophet or a liar and the Book of Mormon is either a book of God or a book of satan. If you are seeking a definitive characterization of Joseph Smith because you want to know the truth about Joseph, you'll not find it in this book. The author is all over the playing field trying to cover both sides of his issue.
Love him or hate him, you'll find yourself bored. He presents information more or less neutrally, but this presentation also lacks any of the personalization needed to suceed. Perhaps the narrator might share some of the blame, but it's hard to imagine making an intensely debated historical figure intensely, painfully boring.
Mr. Remini tries hard to objective, but his unstated thesis comes through clearly: Joseph Smith and his works are simply a product of the times. He honestly tries to be fair, but cannot get beyond his own preconceived notions-- he does not try to present a Latter-day Saint explanation for significant events (e.g., that the Book of Mormon addresses modern concerns not because it was written in 1830 but because it was written anciently with an eye toward modern times). As a scholar of the Jacksonian era of American history, Mr. Remini reads into nearly every aspect of the Mormon Prophet's life something reflective of this thesis. An example: the "Word of Wisdom" (the Mormon "health code") was a product of the temperance movement. Another example: the priesthood government of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was (and presumably still is) a reflection of populist democratic sentiments. I had hoped this book would help place Joseph Smith more clearly into the context of his times. Instead, I heard the times placed into Joseph Smith's life. On the technical side, the reader might have done well to talk to a Latter-day Saint or at least check the pronunciation guide in the Book of Mormon. Nearly every Book of Mormon name is mispronounced and is jarring to the Latter-day Saint ear.
This history is pretty much the history that everyone hated in High School. It competently covers dates and events. It misses the profound, on occasion mumbles a sentence or two about the controversy. Whether one likes or dislikes Joseph Smith, he is not a boring historical figure. Everything that he did had a profound effect on everyone around him. I am not sure how a history of such a person become a jumble of dates and events.
No, but I am suspect about this author.
I don't think the reading of the history was the problem. However, the narrator completely missed the pronounciation of key Book of Mormon Characters. But this summarizes the entire book, not even motivated enough about this history to even get the names correct. Someone who was really interested in this history would have nailed such detail.
Not even sure what this means
This is a non emotional, a disinterested history on Joseph Smith. Was the motivation of writing this book to get benefit of the Mitt Romney effect?
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