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Summer Book Club

Summer Book Club: Richard Lyman Bushman’s Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling

By April 27, 2015


Ten years ago, Richard Bushman published Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling with Knopf. Bushman’s biography of Mormonism’s founder garnered widespread praise and provoked a number of conversations within the Mormon Studies community. Jan Shipps argued in the Journal of American History that Bushman’s biography represented a new chapter in the study of Mormonism. She wrote that Rough Stone Rolling is “a work of new American history that forces readers to recognize that religion is as much of our past as anything else.”[i] Through doing so, she argued that Mormon history would soon function be used as a lens to understand broader topics in American history and American religion rather than for exclusively Mormon purposes to Mormon audiences.[ii]

Shipps’ review appears to have been, well, prophetic. The past decade has witnessed an explosion of scholarship on Mormonism that historians and religious studies scholars must take seriously. Books by Spencer Fluhman, Patrick Mason, John Turner, Christine Talbot, the Joseph Smith Papers Project Team, Paul Reeve, Jared Farmer, Steve Taysom, Sam Brown, as well as many journal authors, have produced work useable in university classrooms.[iii]

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Ardis on Review: The Council of: “cjp: It's here -- in reading it, please understand that it was written for a very different audience from JI.”


cjp on Review: The Council of: “Hi Ardis, could you post a link to your review? I would love to read it! Thanks.”


Matt on Review: The Council of: “Quincy and Ardis, thank you for the follow up comments. I had thought of posting a similar clarification to your initial review, Ardis, but the…”


Ardis on Review: The Council of: “Thanks for the clarifications/corrections, Matt. I wish they had been brought up in the earlier discussion on my own review of your book, where I…”


Quincy D. Newell on Review: The Council of: “Matt, I also appreciate your thoughtful response here. As you point out, this is not (or not just) an issue of editors' blindness to…”


J Stuart on Review: The Council of: “"It’s a disparity that I hope we will not only lament on blogs, but do what we can to remedy." Amen! I really appreciate the thoughtful…”

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