On June 27, 1844, a mob stormed the jail in the dusty frontier town of Carthage, Illinois. Clamorous and angry, they were hunting down a man they saw as a grave threat to their otherwise quiet lives: The founding prophet of Mormonism, Joseph Smith. They wanted blood. At thirty-nine years old, Smith had already lived an outsized life. In addition to starting the Church of Latter-Day Saints and creating his own "Golden Bible" - the Book of Mormon - he had worked as a water-dowser and treasure hunter.
"Weak beginning strong finish"
In 1940 Edmund Wilson was the undisputed big dog of American letters. Vladimir Nabokov was a near-penniless Russian exile seeking asylum in the States. Wilson became a mentor to Nabokov, introducing him to every editor of note, assigning to him book reviews for the New Republic, engineering a Guggenheim. Their intimate friendship blossomed over a shared interest in all things Russian, ruffled a bit by political disagreements. But then came Lolita, and suddenly Nabokov was the big (and very rich) dog.