The *Top* Books in Mormon History/Studies

By March 28, 2009

Periodically, historians conduct polls among themselves to determine the state of the field. I recently asked a couple dozen youngish historians what were, in their opinions, the top five books in Mormon history/studies today.  By “youngish” I mean under 40 and by “historian” I mean someone with academic training in history or a related discipline (I also included a couple ‘nacle participants who do not have academic training in history but are probably better read in Mormon history than most historians).

I fully  admit that my methodology was not scientific. I declined to define the meaning of *top*, preferring to allow the respondents to work with their own definitions, since we all know that historians never agree on anything and trying to get a consensus would have taken away from the purpose of this exercise, to have a little fun (and I didn’t want to clutter up my inbox; anyone who subscribes to H-Net or other listserves knows what I’m talking about). Furthermore, as one respondent mentioned to me, trying to objectively determine the *top* books is a futile exercise, to which I responded that this would tell us a lot more about the participants and their biases than whether or not five books were really the *top* in the field. Since not all respondents ranked their top five books, I have decided not to organize the data according to number of first place votes, second place votes, etc., but rather to simply report the total number of votes each book received. I have included the entire list:

Bushman, Rough Stone Rolling (18)

Flake, Politics of American Religious Identity (10)

Alexander, Mormonism in Transition (7)

Arrington, Great Basin Kingdom (6)

Shipps, Mormonism (6)

Givens, By the Hand of Mormon (5)

Gordon, Mormon Question (5)

Mauss, Angel and the Beehive (5)

Hatch, Democratization of American Christianity (4)

Joseph Smith Papers vol 1 (4)

Walker et. al., Massacre at Mountain Meadows (4)

Brooks, Mountain Meadows Massacre (3)

Givens, People of Parodox (3)

Prince, David O McKay (3)

Arrington and Bitton, The Mormon Experience (2)

Brodie, No Man Knows My History (2)

Quinn, Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power (2)

Brooke, The Refiner’s Fire (2)

Mauss, All Abraham’s Children (2)

Hansen, Mormonism and the American Experience (2)

Quinn, Magic World View (1)

Bushman, Believing History (1)

Reeve, Making Space on the Western Frontier (1)

Flanders, Nauvoo (1)

Davies, The Mormon Culture of Salvation (1)

Allen, No Toil Nor Labor Fear (1)

Smith, The Saintly Scoundrel (1)

Schmidt, Hearing Things (1)

Walker, Wayward Saints (1)

Whittaker, et. al., Studies in Mormon History, 1830-1997 (1)

Launius, Joseph Smith III: Pragmatic Prophet (1)

Yorgason, The Transformation of the Mormon Culture Region (1)

Setting aside the methodological problems with the poll, what generalizations can we make about the group of historians that participated? Which topics, time periods, and authors are deemed important among scholars of the youngish crowd? What is the significance of a book published over five decades ago (Arrington) making the top five? Perhaps equally interesting, are any books missing from this list, and what do the lacunae tell us?

N.B.: A few respondents tried to give me their top 7 or 8 books (fear of commitment, I suppose), rather than 5 (and in a couple of cases, two lists of top 5 books), but I have only included their first top 5 for the sake of consistency.

And thanks to all who participated.

Article filed under Polls/Surveys State of the Discipline


Comments

  1. Although I did not ask for respondent definitions for “top” books, a couple did give me answers that I think are worth reproducing here. For example, SC Taysom wrote that

    This is actually very difficult. I decided to use as my criteria the books I would assign to graduate students to get a sense of the variety and depth of both Mormon history and historiographical approaches.

    And this from matt b.:

    The last three are key [Mormonism in Transition; The Democratization of American Christianity; The Angel and the Beehive] because they provide us paradigms with which to understand whole periods; I find myself citing them again and again. Alexander’s application of Weber to Mormonism is profoundly useful, and I think as we move out of what he called retrenchment toward being a global faith, Mauss’s book will become increasingly useful. . . The first [No Man Knows My History] is on partly simply because it exists, but also because it’s been the go-to book for the non-Mormon academy for sixty years. Magic World View was the last onto my list, because it has a lot of methodological flaws, but it’s the rare sort of book which fundamentally altered the way people thought about Joseph Smith.

    And finally from Alex Smith, whose comment isn’t so insightful as it is funny:

    for the sake of conversation I would be sorely tempted to put Noall’s Intimate Disciple [a bio of Willard Richards]. If it wouldn’t get to catty, I think it would be fun to have a “Worst of LDS History” survey.

    Comment by David G. — March 28, 2009 @ 12:42 am

  2. Wow. Bushman over Arrington’s Great Basin Kingdom. Has the world gone topsy-turvy? Rough Stone Rolling is a fine book, but it’s still relatively new, whereas GBK has stood the test of time.

    I’m also surprised Hatch’s Democratization is on the list. Hatch doesn’t deal with Mormonism at great length, and I think he misinterprets the Mormon movement. He tries too hard to fit it into his evangelical synthesis of American religion. Like Methodism, nineteenth-century Mormonism had its populist features, but it had its authoritarian dimensions too, much like the religious establishment his Methodists, Freewill Baptists, and like-minded evangelicals were trying to overthrow.

    Comment by Brandno — March 28, 2009 @ 1:31 am

  3. That last comment was mine. You’d think I could spell my own name right.

    Comment by Brandon — March 28, 2009 @ 1:32 am

  4. That’s a pretty good list, David. A couple of other possibilities would be O’Dea’s The Mormons and Barlow’s Mormons and the Bible.

    Comment by Dave — March 28, 2009 @ 6:01 am

  5. There are some exceptions, but overall the greatest vote-getters are pretty recent. Knowing the group David G probably surveyed, I don’t suspect that is because respondents are familiar only with the latest, but because the newer books asks the questions that younger historians care more about. (Brandon, that Great Basin Kingdom stands so high in a field of newish books testifies to its staying power.)

    I’m surprised that Joseph Smith Papers Vol. 1 doesn’t stand higher. Maybe that’s because it’s so new that most haven’t found themselves quoting from it much yet. I predict that when a few more volumes have come out, the Papers as a collection will stand higher in future surveys.

    The list has a lot more material focusing on the late 19th century than I would have predicted. I’m guessing that says less about the importance of that time relative to the Joseph Smith era than it does about the wealth of topics and great studies available.

    Comment by Ardis Parshall — March 28, 2009 @ 7:36 am

  6. My grammar is horrible. *sigh*

    Comment by Ardis Parshall — March 28, 2009 @ 7:37 am

  7. Brandon: I’ll have to let others answer for themselves, but from my pov Ardis is correct. As I mentioned in the post, I find it far more remarkable that GBK is even that high on the list than the fact that RSR is ahead of it. Although some voters may have defined top as classic, I think most voted according to cutting edge, and Bushman certainly fits the bill. As for Hatch, I didn’t vote for him, but I don’t think I agree with your characterization. Hatch does deal with Mormonism a great deal in his book (although the section devoted to Mormonism is relatively short, references to it are all over the volume). Additionally, Hatch acknowledges throughout that Mormonism (as well as Methodism) had strong authoritarian features.

    Dave: Both O’Dea and Barlow were mentioned in the “if I could add another book” section of a few of the emails, but neither made the “top five.”

    Ardis: In terms of the JSP, I suspect that some participants were a bit queasy including a volume of documentary editing to a list of scholarly books (although all realize that the editors of the volume are top rate scholars). I suspect that had I specifically stated that JSP was open for inclusion, more would have voted for it.

    Comment by David G. — March 28, 2009 @ 9:45 am

  8. It looks to me like some notable books by Larry Foster, Mark Leone, Klaus Hansen, Will Bagley, Wallace Stegner, Marvin Hill, LeRoy Hafen, Sarah Gordon, and Newell Bringhurst were overlooked.

    Comment by Sterling Fluharty — March 28, 2009 @ 9:55 am

  9. oops, Gordon was recent enough to make your list

    Comment by Sterling Fluharty — March 28, 2009 @ 9:56 am

  10. Sterling: Reading your list made me realize that Hansen’s Mormonism and the American Experience did receive two votes, but someone tallying the results (gulp!) didn’t include it here. I’ve now included it above.

    (and, you know, I did give you a chance, actually two, to vote for any of those books you mentioned)

    Comment by David G. — March 28, 2009 @ 10:08 am

  11. That hard part in such an exercise, I think, is the desire to include different types of books. So for me it becomes not a question of what the absolute top books are (whatever that means) but what a representative sampling of top books is.

    Comment by J. Stapley — March 28, 2009 @ 10:55 am

  12. And building off of J, I also felt an (imaginary?) obligation to cover all chronological periods of Mormonism.

    I think it’s a great list, though; thanks for putting it together.

    Comment by Ben — March 28, 2009 @ 11:04 am

  13. As with all lists like this (or with the Academy Awards) I always wonder how many of these books the average participant has read. Have all the participants read all of these books?

    Comment by Jacob J — March 28, 2009 @ 12:25 pm

  14. Jacob J, I can’t speak for others, but I’ve read all but two of the books that received votes (well, I haven’t read the Studies in Mormon History bibliography all the way through, but am familiar with it and have used it). I’m guessing most of those interviewed (if not all) have read at least 90% of the books that received votes, and are familiar with the arguments put forth in those they haven’t read.

    I didn’t even think about JSP, Vol. 1. I’m not sure why, other than to say that I was thinking pretty much exclusively in terms of monographs.

    I admittedly voted for those books which have been most influential on my own research, as well as those that I think have had the most influence on Mormon historical studies as a whole or ones I feel are particularly groundbreaking or unique (but grounded) in their approach to studying Mormonism.

    Comment by Christopher — March 28, 2009 @ 1:39 pm

  15. Oh, and I’d like to second Alex Smith’s suggestion that we hold a similar poll on the worst books in Mormon history. That would be kinda fun.

    Comment by Christopher — March 28, 2009 @ 1:41 pm

  16. I wonder if I am the only one who looked through this final list and felt stupid because a couple of these titles didn’t even come to mind as I was compiling my top picks.

    Comment by SC Taysom — March 28, 2009 @ 1:43 pm

  17. Thanks Christopher. I am not really surprised since I know you people read a lot of books. I have never been into Mormon history (in comparison to the participants) so I have only read 5 of these books (with one more on my nightstand right now). I am familiar with almost every book with more than one vote, but when the list gets into the part with only one vote per book, I knew of only a couple of those books. I’m always amazed that after the amount of time I has spent reading about Mormon history I have never even heard of a bunch of the books making people’s top five.

    Comment by Jacob J — March 28, 2009 @ 3:19 pm

  18. I guess I (perhaps others) subscribe the the progressive model of historiography that believes that the field gets progressively better. Otherwise, what’s the point.

    Comment by Steve Fleming — March 28, 2009 @ 4:14 pm

  19. I think it depends on how we define “better” in this context. Certainly, as Ardis points out, it may seem to be better because it feels more relevant and uses paradigms and basic assumptions that we take to be correct. Or, it may mean that we have more accurate information and can therefore piece the story together with greater clarity and fullness. My own theoretical and methodological leanings militate against my embrace of an objectively progressively model of historiography. Sure we think that what we are doing is better, but I think we may be kidding ourselves.

    Comment by SC Taysom — March 28, 2009 @ 5:20 pm

  20. Please don’t call our precious myths into question SC. I’m trying to convince my wife that my efforts haven’t been a total waste.

    Comment by Steve Fleming — March 28, 2009 @ 5:29 pm

  21. David G.-

    I admit it’s been a few years since I’ve read Nathan Hatch, so I revisited the book today and I’m still not convinced by its characterization of Mormonism. Yes, Mormonism had its primitivist, democratic, and populist impulses. Yes, it appealed to the poor. Yes, it was highly anti-Calvinist. But that doesn’t mean that Mormons can be so easily lumped in with the sectarian evangelicals Hatch is really interested in: the Methodists, Baptists, and Christians. He tries to make Mormonism an evangelical apple, when it’s really an orange.

    One example. Take Hatch’s section on sola scriptura, or the notion that the Bible ought to be the Christian’s sole theological authority. I think his willingness to allow his reader to think that nineteenth-century Mormons somehow subscribed to this notion is disingenuous. The advent of the Book of Mormon surely proves they didn’t.

    I think Hatch’s agenda here is really an historiographical one. As one of several historians promoting an “evangelical synthesis” in American religious history (along with folks like Edith Blumhofer and Mark Noll), Hatch overreaches and focuses only the similarities between his subject groups, while downplaying their differences (especially the differences between Mormonism and the rest of the populist Protestant crowd). He wants Mormonism to “seem” evangelical, though it’s clear they were not, and that by their own admission. Nineteenth-century Mormons were as much anti-evangelical as they were anti-Calvinist. I think the most I can give him is that Mormons seemed “stylistically evangelical,” but they definitely were not “evangelical” in terms of polity or theology. (For more the evangelical synthesis, see the following URL: http://usreligion.blogspot.com/2008/06/born-again-history.html.)

    I also think Mormons aren’t really main “characters” in Hatch’s story. Sure, you can find references to them scattered about the book, as well as a dedicated section in chapter 4. While I see Democratization as helpful to Mormon historians, I don’t think it’s a tremendously useful book about Mormonism

    I imagine we’ll just agree to disagree. Not a bad thing. Disagreement makes things more interesting.

    That being said, thanks for making the effort to do the poll. It was illuminating.

    Comment by Brandon — March 28, 2009 @ 5:31 pm

  22. Steve, I know what you mean. Boy do I know.

    Comment by SC Taysom — March 28, 2009 @ 5:53 pm

  23. I wonder if I am the only one who looked through this final list and felt stupid because a couple of these titles didn’t even come to mind as I was compiling my top picks.

    I completely agree, especially with Great Basin Kingdom. I have no idea how that one slipped my mind.

    I think it should also be added that Steve Harper’s “Dictated by the Words of Christ,” in Journal of the Early Republic, fairly persuasively takes Hatch’s book and framework to task.

    Comment by Ben — March 28, 2009 @ 6:12 pm

  24. Brandon, thanks for going back through Hatch. I think we agree on more than we disagree. Like I said, I didn’t vote for Hatch; I was only taking issue with some of your statement above. I agree it’s got problematic elements, but it also has useful and illuminating insights into early Mormonism. See matt b.’s comment I quoted in #1 for one person’s rationale for voting for Hatch. Maybe others who voted for him can pitch in as well.

    Comment by David G. — March 28, 2009 @ 6:24 pm

  25. for the sake of conversation I would be sorely tempted to put Noall’s Intimate Disciple [a bio of Willard Richards]. If it wouldn’t get to catty, I think it would be fun to have a “Worst of LDS History” survey.

    I am reminded of Arrington’s Spring 1966 Dialogue article in which he gave faint praise to Noall’s book as “[a]mong the better Mormon biographies.”

    Comment by Justin — March 28, 2009 @ 7:42 pm

  26. /begin feminist rant

    Dozens of participants. Five books apiece. And *no one* managed to put Mormon Sisters or Mormon Enigma or A Mormon Mother or Sisters of the Covenant or Women and Authority (with all of its problems, yes) or Four Zinas or Sisters in Spirit or An Advocate for Women or Lucy’s Book onto their lists. (or, or, or . . .)

    And not to say that Four Zinas should bump RSR off of its perch or anything. But, really. David’s final post lists books about Joseph Smith III, and about the freaking Godbeites. There’s clearly at least some branching away from the true indispensibles.

    And yet in a poll of dozens of young, in-the-know historians, not a single book focusing primarily on Mormon womens’ experience made it onto a single person’s top-five list.

    Incredible.

    Please tell me there was a typo somewhere or a missed addition to the real list. Or that I just went temporarily blind or am too tired and conferenced-out, and so I missed spotting Mormon Sisters or An Advocate in my reading the list, and that something, somewhere, is there.

    /end feminist rant

    Comment by Kaimi — March 29, 2009 @ 2:10 am

  27. Unfortunately, Kaimi, the indignation of your comment is not justifiably tenable.

    Women and Authority? Heh. And while Mormon Sisters is nice, it just doesn’t have the chops to stand up. Now, I do think there are some excellent volumes that focus on women – Mormon Enigma, as you say, Compton’s In Sacred Lonliness and Women of Covenant (which gets too frequently overlooked). There are also skads of great documentary sources like Lucy’s Book and USU’s Life Writing of Frontier Women series (note that I’ve actually read them). I’m not sure if you would consider books on polygamy for your feminist catagorization, but there are some quality titles there: Daynes and Embry.

    That said, I don’t see how Lucy’s Book trumps JSP J1, or how Madsen’s Emmeline Wells Bio trumps RSR. While you could level a feminist critique of such a comparison, I don’t really have much problem with it. The reality is that there are hundreds of Mormon History/Studies titles that are “must reads” and when you pick only 5, there is going to be some shaft-giving. As I mentioned before, I was one to feel the need to pick from several categories, but obviously, I didn’t have enough spaces.

    Also, Walker’s volume on the Godbeite’s is a very important and excellently written volume; and maybe one of the respondents was of the Prairie Saint persuasion, and a Joseph Smith III bio would be extraordinarily important.

    Comment by J. Stapley — March 29, 2009 @ 10:51 am

  28. The real problem, J., is that you’re right. There is, as of yet, no RSR about Mormon women. (Mormon Enigma is probably as close as we’ve got.)

    Even as I was making, the argument, I was feeling sad because the ammunition isn’t there. Mormon Sisters is significant, but it’s an essay collection and has the weaknesses of the form. Lucy’s Book and A Mormon Mother are great, but narrow in focus. (And the marginalization of books on women is in part a natural outgrowth of the marginalization of women in the institution.)

    (Also, as you note, I didn’t include Daynes or Compton — I thought about them, but I didn’t want to look like I was cheating, wrapping more books under the feminist banner than would be universally considered.)

    Now, some (maybe) good news. I was complaining to Maxine just yesterday in the hall at Sunstone about the huge, huge need for a really good book on Mormon feminism — one which covers the history, places events in context and looks at their significance. Maxine said that she’s heard that Laurel has been doing some work on her on-again-off-again research in this area, and that maybe (there are always lots of maybes in this area) she will be putting something together, maybe with Claudia and/or Maxine and/or Maureen (and/or Jill Mulvay Derr, maybe?).

    For my money, a Laurel/Claudia book on Mormon feminism in historical context would immediately leap to the top tier of Mormon studies feminism — and could very well be as significant as Mauss’s Angel and the Beehive, Prince’s McKay bio, or even Mormonism in Transition.

    (I also have high hopes for Jill Derr and Kathleen Flake’s (and Maureen’s?) long-awaited book on ERS. I haven’t heard about that one for a little while, though. Does anyone know, is it still in process? Did it get back-burnered because of the JSPP?)

    Comment by Kaimi — March 29, 2009 @ 12:47 pm

  29. Kaimi, the problem will eventually be remedied.
    Laurel has started a book merging accounts of various Mormon diarists in the Nauvoo to Exodus period that will almost certainly be an indispensable volume in Mormon Studies. Jill and co are finishing up ERS papers before they’ll get the bio done, but the bio will one day come, and it will also be excellent I believe.
    You’re right, though, that Mormon Enigma is a crucial piece of historiography and probably merits inclusion above some of the others listed.

    Comment by smb — March 29, 2009 @ 1:24 pm

  30. Jill Derr’s and Karen Lynn Davidson’s book on Eliza R. Snow’s poetry is in the editorial stage of cite-checking by the publisher, so that much should be out very soon.

    Comment by Ardis Parshall — March 29, 2009 @ 6:01 pm

  31. Kaimi, I think we’re guilty as charged, although it is true that there aren’t many works to choose from. I considered voting for Marty Bradley’s Pedestals and Podiums, which I admittedly haven’t read closely, but I think the topic is crucial to understanding 20th century Mormonism and I consider Bradley to be a top notch historian. But ultimately it didn’t make the cut, and after seeing this list, I kind of regret it now.

    Comment by David G. — March 29, 2009 @ 10:31 pm

  32. Feminist rant aside, there are a lot of fascinating aspects of the list.

    Bushman beats Brodie by a whopping 18-2. Wow. There was some question at the time of RSR as to whether or not people would see it as a good Brodie replacement. (Was it too dry, too plodding, etc — not that I think it’s particularly plodding, but that criticism was raised.) It looks like, at least among this crowd, RSR has definitively supplanted Brodie.

    Flake at #2 is fascinating. It’s a very good book, of course. But I wouldn’t have guessed it would come in second overall.

    Quinn gets just three total votes — two for Mormon Hierarchy and one for Magic Worldview. That’s quite a drop from where I was expecting to see him. (We ran the same question five years ago of T&S readers (a different but still somewhat well-read crowd, with a lot more non-experts in the poll), and MWV came in at #2, behind old Bushman.)

    Comment by Kaimi — March 30, 2009 @ 11:18 am

  33. Kaimi – as one who voted for Flake, I think her real promise is as much in her methodology as in her content. Her interdisciplinary approach is groundbreaking.

    I was also surprised to see Quinn come in so low, but I suspect it’s for the same reasons Flake came in so high. It’s about the field as much as it is about his own merits, and the field is moving away from his sort of exhaustive source based work and toward broader theoretical and comparative analysis.

    Comment by matt b — March 30, 2009 @ 11:52 am

  34. Guys, how about “Women of Covenant”? It’s certainly “faithful history” and somewhat low on analysis/critique, but I think it’s the best survey situating women in the greater context of Mormon history. If you have a good foundation, a close reading yields quite a bit of insight.

    Comment by kris — March 30, 2009 @ 12:03 pm

  35. p.s. I think you could also make an argument for 4 Zinas as well. Told through the lens of one family, it sheds quite a bit of light on Mormon women’s history.

    Comment by kris — March 30, 2009 @ 12:06 pm

  36. Dave,

    Thank you for the fun and insightful survey. I think that knowing the context of the answers, like Steve provides, makes the excercise even more helpful.

    Also, I’m quite sure I wouldn’t have spelled “too” with only one “o”. /hide

    Comment by Alex — March 30, 2009 @ 12:18 pm

  37. LOL, I thought about putting a [sic] in there, but then I remembered that the JSP style guide doesn’t use sic, but reproduces the document as is. 😉

    Comment by David G. — March 30, 2009 @ 12:35 pm

  38. Re: my decision to vote for Hatch (#24). While I agree that Hatch doesn’t fully grasp the complexities of Mormonism, I would argue that his analysis works for Mormonism in its earliest expression. I think Brandon overstates his case when arguing that Mormonism is an orange and not an evangelical apple. I think Mormonism became an apple, but at its birth was a sort of orapple (an apple trying to be something else). But that’s not really why I voted for him. Rather, as Matt B noted, his approach “provide[s] us [a] paradigm with which to understand [a] whole period.” Furthermore, I think Hatch fundamentally changed (or helped change) the way historians approach Mormonism, and his argument has been very influential on many later commentators.

    Re: Flake coming in at #2. I voted for Flake for the same reasons Matt notes in #33.

    Re: women’s and gender history. Upon reconsidering my vote, I wish I would’ve made room for either Women of Covenant, 4 Zinas, or Pedestals and Podiums. But I’m not sure which book I would’ve bumped to make room. I am excited about the many forthcoming volumes treating Mormon women.

    Comment by Christopher — March 30, 2009 @ 12:36 pm

  39. I think Mormonism became an apple, but at its birth was a sort of orapple (an apple trying to be something else).

    I move that “orapple” becomes the standard description of 1830s mormonism.

    Comment by Ben — March 30, 2009 @ 1:08 pm

  40. LOL! I completely skimmed over the “orapple” portion of Chris’s comment the first time I read it. Hilarious!

    Comment by David G. — March 30, 2009 @ 1:14 pm

  41. I have to agree with the comment about O’Dea’s The Mormons. Any book that is so groundbreaking that it has another book published about it fifty years later deserves to be on that list. I also agree with Christopher that there should have been more mention of Mormon gender history–insufficient though it presently is.

    Comment by Brett D. — March 30, 2009 @ 7:44 pm

  42. My problem with Quinn is that his work became dated incredibly rapidly because it never really seemed like actual scholarship to me. It reads like annotated bibliography with a bit o’ sparring with BYU old guard thrown in. Even on magic Alan Taylor and Jon Butler were more interesting from the get go. This may just be my way of expressing what mb noted, that the new generation has moved on.

    I didn’t vote for O’Dea because I’m not big on sociology, just a personal bias of mine that I confess is not entirely reasonable. And I stick by my guns with Leigh Eric Schmidt’s Hearing Things. It is better written than anything else on the list, and in terms of sorting out what JSJ and others were trying to do (more than just reading them as millennial primitivists, which is true but somewhat less illuminating), I can’t think of anything that has struck me as equally insightful. After reading that book I despaired of being able to produce anything so insightful and powerfully written.

    Comment by smb — March 30, 2009 @ 10:35 pm

  43. Another quirky thing about the list:

    Angel and the Beehive got 5 votes. (And it’s good.)

    But Cornwall’s _Contemporary Mormonism: Social Science Perspectives_ didn’t get mentioned once.

    And Cornwall’s volume has Armand’s own cliff-notes version of Angel and the Beehive. Basically the thesis about assimilation, without all of the history and charts of the full book. If you’re really after the theory of A&theB, the shorter essay in Cornwall’s volume has a really big chunk of his theoretical frame.

    Plus, it has a nice Shipps essay and some essays about Blacks and about women in the church.

    I love A&theB, but if I’m making a desert island list of my own, there is no way that I’d put it above Cornwall. Because, at least for this non-sociologist, Cornwall’s collection gives me Mauss’s thesis in a good-enough version, plus a lot of other fun stuff.

    (But then, I’m not a sociologist. Maybe if I were, I’d find all the charts from A&theB really indispensible. 🙂 )

    Comment by Kaimi — March 30, 2009 @ 11:58 pm

  44. Kaimi, I can’t speak for others (though their own answers do seem to indicate that they may agree), but I didn’t bother considering edited and compiled volumes of essays. Its the same reason I didn’t include the first volume of the JSP. I limited my list to monographs.

    Also, on an unrelated note, I find it a bit surprising that Underwood’s Millenarian World of Early Mormonism did not receive even one vote.

    Comment by Christopher — March 31, 2009 @ 12:11 am

  45. Good call Christopher. That really is an excellent book: both in terms of content and style.

    Comment by Clark — March 31, 2009 @ 12:39 am

  46. Agreed with Christopher re: edited compilations and doc editions. It’s not denying that they’re top notch, but they’re really not in the same category as monographs.

    Comment by David G. — March 31, 2009 @ 1:05 am

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Gary Bergera on JI Summer Book Club: “Really helpful summary, Ben. Laurel does a great job with a very difficult subject. You write that the Claytons produced the first child born to a…”


Ben P on JI Summer Book Club: “Thanks, David. And yes, there are trade-offs when privileging contemporary documents--there are less female voices from which to reconstruct female lives. This is mostly a…”


David G. on JI Summer Book Club: “Thanks, Ben. I agree--Ulrich captures the conflicted emotions that accompanied the emergence of plurality in Nauvoo better than perhaps anyone. She does have to…”

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