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Publisher's Summary

A stunning and sure to be controversial book that pieces together, through more than two dozen 19th-century diaries, letters, albums, minute books, and quilts left by first-generation Latter-day Saints, or Mormons, the never before told story of the earliest days of the women of Mormon "plural marriage", whose right to vote in the state of Utah was given to them by a Mormon-dominated legislature as an outgrowth of polygamy in 1870, 50 years ahead of the vote nationally ratified by Congress, and who became political actors in spite of, or because of, their marital arrangements. Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, writing of this small group of Mormon women who've previously been seen as mere names and dates, has brilliantly reconstructed these textured, complex lives to gives us a fulsome portrait of who these women were and of their "sex radicalism" - the idea that a woman should choose when and with whom to bear children.

©2017 Laurel Thatcher Ulrich (P)2017 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books

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Pronunciation Counts

Interesting, however reader mispronounced the Book of Mormon names throughout the reading. Nephi is not Neff - ee.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Darwin8u
  • Mesa, AZ, United States
  • 01-13-17

Well-behaved women seldom write in diaries

"Well-behaved women seldom make history"
- Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

My wife and I named our only daughter Emmeline after Emmeline B. Wells, the 5th president of the Mormon Church's relief society. The reason we felt strongly about using that name was Emmeline B. Wells was both a strong Mormon, a writer, and an early feminist and suffragette. She advocated for a woman's right to vote and edited the Women's Exponent in 1872. She was also the 7th wife of Daniel H. Wells, a Mormon apostle and later mayor of Salt Lake City.

That conflict, or apparent conflict, between early Mormon feminism and polygamy is a rich and fascinating territory. It is complex, fluid, and sometimes appears contradictory. However, in the hands of Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, this absorbing aspect of women, faith, family, suffrage, and the early Mormon church becomes a tapestry sewn together by various voices through Ulrich's well-honed skill at analyzing early diaries, notes, letters, poems, etc., of members of the LDS faith (primarily women) from the beginning of the LDS church through 1870 (the year women's suffrage passed in the territory of Utah*).

For those who are unfamiliar with Ulrich, she was the one who penned the phrase: "well-behaved women seldom make history". She also wrote the landmark book, A Midwife's Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812. This landmark book was (and is) very influential for subverting many ideas of pre-industrial labor, gender roles, and HIStory. She is Harvard's 300th Anniversary University Professor, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and Bancroft Prize, former President of the American Historical Association, and is a Guggenheim and MacArthur fellow. She is just a bad ass. If we ever have another daughter, we might just name her Laurel.

* It was later repealed under the Edmunds–Tucker Act and was eventual returned in 1896 when Utah became a state, but that will probably need to wait until Professor Ulrich writes A House Full of Females, Part 2: 1870 to present.

15 of 20 people found this review helpful

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Great history; so-so performance

The narrator often mispronounced words, and this was distracting. The history and writing were excellent. I recommend doing a little prep work to know how to pronounce odd Mormon names.

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Readers should learn proper pronunciations... she butchers several words and names..

The reader does not pronounce several names of people and places, both historical and current correctly...

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Well written! Objective and interesting

Beautiful
Honest
Not anti Mormon

Favorite line :
Mormonism has always been a religion of second chances.

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Great History

This was a cool book, no question. While I disagree with some of the author's interpretations, most often as they relate to the feelings, motivations, or intelligence of various historical figures, her research, compilation and synergy of documents is outstanding. I walk away with a broader, deeper, more nuanced view of Mormon polygamy and the political/social/religious environment where it took place. As far as the recording, I'd have appreciated more effort going into the cultural/correct pronunciation of Mormon nouns. Over all, a great read! Great buy!

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Good information, a lot of mispronunciation.

There were many times in which the reader said the wrong word, and many more times that she just mispronounced words. I did not catalog them all, but some examples are 'prophecy' vs 'prophesy' and 'exalt' vs 'exult'. There were many more that I can't recall right now.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful