2009 JWHA Awards

By September 25, 2009

My battery is almost dead and my power cord is not working, so unfortunately, no notes will be taken tomorrow, and I won’t be able to follow up on this until Saturday evening, so if I made a mistake on these awards (doing them from memory), please leave aΒ  comment so one of my cobloggers can correct it. Tonight at the awards banquet, the following awards were given (see past award recipients here):

The Windermuth Award: Jared T.amez

Best Article: Harvest Hills at Thirty-five: Graying Not Growingy by Bryan R. Monte in the JWHA Journal, Volume 28.

Best Book: George Smith’s Nauvoo Polygamy

Lifetime Achievement Award: Pat Spillman

Article filed under Miscellaneous


  1. Congratulations, Jared!

    Comment by Elizabeth — September 25, 2009 @ 10:14 pm

  2. Pat Spillman was JWHA journal editor for many years and is a gracious individual.

    Comment by Robin Jensen — September 26, 2009 @ 12:17 am

  3. Congrats, Jared. What’s the name of the paper?

    Comment by David G. — September 26, 2009 @ 12:45 am

  4. Congrats, Jared.

    Comment by Ben — September 26, 2009 @ 11:40 am

  5. Interesting. I’d heard so many slams of Smith’s book that I never picked it up. I’m surprised it won. Is there more diversity of opinion on it than it seemed?

    Comment by Clark — September 26, 2009 @ 1:06 pm

  6. Thanks all, the paper was entitled “Our Faithful Sisters”: The Organization of the Relief Society in Early 20th Century Mexico.”

    Clark, I’ve heard a lot of negative about the book also, so I was also surprised it won. I only made the end of the author-meets-critic session on it, and it seems like Craig Foster had a negative reaction, but from what I could gather, it amounted to tone issues. Smith didn’t actually answer criticisms in his response, he read a very (by his own admission) self serving portion of a gushy review the book got somewhere and then just rehashed some of the stuff he said in the book.

    I didn’t feel like sticking around, so that’s all I saw. I’m gonna have to read the book now, cuz like you, from all the slams I’d heard, I figured I’d leave it farther down the stack, and slams not from CES types, but academics whose opinions I respect. So, I think I’m gonna have to pick it up and see for myself. It’s been sitting on my shelf in shrink wrap since I got it.

    Comment by Jared T — September 27, 2009 @ 4:40 pm

  7. I wouldn’t move it too far up in the stack

    Comment by SC Taysom — September 27, 2009 @ 5:23 pm

  8. Oh, and big congrats on the award!

    Comment by SC Taysom — September 27, 2009 @ 5:23 pm

  9. Congrats to Jared!

    re Nauvoo Polygamy–I was one of the “critics” at the Sunstone version of author meets critics, and George didn’t really answer our criticisms either. I wish he had. The problems that have been mentioned around the bloggernacle are real concerns in the book, and I didn’t like the tone, either, but it is a good reference book to have, simply for the informational charts and the additional work on polygamy in Nauvoo beyond Joseph Smith’s wives.

    Comment by Bored in Vernal — September 27, 2009 @ 6:52 pm

  10. Thanks BiV and Steve. What reviews have come out to date on the book?

    Comment by Jared T — September 27, 2009 @ 7:10 pm

  11. Congratulations, Jared! I’m so pleased about your scholarship because it gave me the opportunity to meet you again. Our lunch at the German restaurant with the Strangite crowd was so much fun!

    I hope you will read the book. Nauvoo Polygamy is destined to be the seminal work about plural marriage at Nauvoo. I, personally, did not see a disrespectful tone in the book. It simply laid out the facts and let the reader decide the significance, as I did when I was a newspaper reporter. I think some people had preconceived opinions about George Smith before they even started to read the book, and thus saw issues where there really was none.

    The Mormon historians I know recognize George Smith’s contribution as a wonderful gift.

    Comment by Vickie Speek — September 27, 2009 @ 7:16 pm

  12. Thank you, Vickie. And the lunch indeed was fun. Though I think I have a ways to go before I get to savoring German food πŸ™‚

    Comment by Jared T — September 27, 2009 @ 7:22 pm

  13. Actually, the German food there was not very good. Try it again later at a different place.

    Comment by Vickie Speek — September 27, 2009 @ 7:38 pm

  14. Haha, I’m glad it wasn’t just me.

    Also, I will have to see about the book, because the opinions I’ve heard are from people whose opinions I actually respect, not from some predictable FARMS-esque response.

    Comment by Jared T — September 27, 2009 @ 7:52 pm

  15. Maybe a few of you who read Smith’s book can give a followup review now that the hype has died down a bit? I’m a bit curious. Of course I’m so far behind in my reading I’m not apt to read it any time soon.

    Comment by Clark — September 27, 2009 @ 9:13 pm

  16. A few short reviews (including Vickie’s) are here. The last review on the page mentions the Sunstone panel I was on. And I have to agree with Gregory Smith’s criticism about the Whitney letter here. That whole introductory section leaves a bad taste in the mouth that it is hard to get over. I have to basically agree with Gregory’s FARMS review. πŸ™‚ There are plenty of places where we don’t just get “facts,” but misleading and undocumented suppositions.

    But, like I said, there is value to the book, and I enjoyed reading it.

    Comment by Bored in Vernal — September 27, 2009 @ 9:27 pm

  17. Oh, and J. Nelson Seawright wrote a fabulous review here for BCC. You’ve probably seen it. He calls the book disappointing but not a total waste.

    Comment by Bored in Vernal — September 27, 2009 @ 9:39 pm

  18. Thanks, Biv. Has it been reviewed in any print journals like JMH? I just found a review in the latest JWHA Journal that I got at the conference. It’s by William Morain, the one that George quoted in his response. Otherwise, I’ve heard it’s been tough to get reviewed.

    Comment by Jared T — September 27, 2009 @ 9:46 pm

  19. “I?ve heard it?s been tough to get reviewed”

    Jared, what does that mean? It’s being reviewed or has been reviewed by Dialogue, John Whitmer and The Association for Mormon Letters. Pulitzer Prize winner Dan Howe reviewed it for the Journal of Mormon History, and Tom Alexander will be reviewing it for BYU.

    I’ve read all of them except for Alexander’s and they all offer praise for the book. I spoke with Tom and he verbally offered praise.

    FARMS reviewed it and we now have admissions by them that Joseph most likely had sex with at least nine women including Fanny Alger. (never thought I would see that day) People will be quoting that for decades. This review could not have been any screwier (which is what we expected and hoped for) and in the end this was really good news for us.

    I’m a little lost about Cheryl’s comments. In George’s session she seemed alarmed about the prose in the book which ended up being JOSEPH SMITH’S own words. Ugh!

    According to genuine scholars who have published actual scholarly books. There was plenty of new and important stuff addressed by George in a way that allowed the readers to make up their minds for themselves. Linda Newell, co author of Mormon Enigma, the definitive work to date on Emma Smith called it the “definitive book on the subject.”

    But in my attempt to be generous, for the unsophisticated latter-day Saint, who would be unfamiliar with this material, this book could be very disheartening.

    But I’m happy to explore the details and criticisms at length if needed. Signature Books and George Smith for one are interested in and are fans of Mormon History. If we made mistakes, they were honest ones. We are very interested and enjoy finding out when we or others get things incorrect.

    We have been given better information on some of our footnotes which we will be correcting in our new paperback edition of the book due in May. Mostly these are dates, figures or typos. If anyone is aware of actual factual errors. We are all ears.

    Tom Kimball
    Signature Books

    Comment by Tom Kimball — September 29, 2009 @ 12:41 pm

  20. Tom, most FARMS people I know assume Joseph had relations with his wives. Why wouldn’t he?

    Comment by Clark — September 29, 2009 @ 1:13 pm

  21. Most? as in Some don’t think he didn’t have sexual relations despite the documentary evidence?

    All I can say is “Wow.” Thanks for that insight.


    Comment by Tom Kimball — September 29, 2009 @ 1:44 pm

  22. I’ve seen no mention of Paul Kurtz’s review here.

    Comment by Justin — September 29, 2009 @ 2:07 pm

  23. “Jared, what does that mean?”

    Exactly what it says, Tom, but I must have heard wrong…However, thanks for providing info re: where else it’s been published other than the JWHA Journal.

    #15, Clark, myself and Joel are planning on reviewing it here, so stay tuned.

    Comment by Jared T. — September 29, 2009 @ 2:39 pm

  24. So what books have Clark and Joel published? You and I have been collecting books together for some time Jared and as the outgoing book review editor for the Journal of Mormon History, I’m surprised I’m not more familiar with their body of publishing.

    Have they published a book? And if so, how did that go?

    Comment by Tom Kimball — September 29, 2009 @ 4:50 pm

  25. Tom, my comment was directed to Clark, not that he’s reviewing it. I emailed you on this before seeing this comment, so I’m gonna let that suffice. But even so, I’m not sure your tone is appreciated, especially when Joel hasn’t even addressed you.

    Comment by Jared T — September 29, 2009 @ 5:04 pm

  26. And by the way, maybe you could explain your thoughts on who is qualified to review a book, as I read you to be saying that only those who have published a book are qualified to review a book. Could you elaborate?

    Comment by Jared T — September 29, 2009 @ 5:12 pm

  27. Tom (#21) that seems an egregiously bad way to read what I wrote. Since I’ve not talked with everyone (and honestly haven’t talked with hardly any the last decade) I can’t say all. I’d assume they all do but don’t know. My point was that you were portraying them as believing the opposite which seemed odd or perhaps disingenuous.

    Anyway, my original comments were simply that I was interested in the book after hearing a lot bad about it because of the award. I’m not quite sure why you seem to be upset at me.

    Comment by Clark — September 29, 2009 @ 5:28 pm

  28. Tom, those who know me may attest that I rarely become alarmed at any of Joseph’s own words. πŸ™‚

    What I am alarmed about is the reliance on innuendo and questionable sources which characterizes some of the information that George provides.

    At the risk of threadjacking, I will give you one example which I noticed when I was researching Parley P. Pratt for my post here at JI. On pp 208-209, George asserts that Mary Ann Frost was sealed to PPP on June 23, 1843 by Hyrum Smith, but Joseph subsequently canceled the sealing and had her sealed to himself on July 24 for time and eternity, citing the “Parley P. Pratt Family Record, copy in author’s possession.” This suggestion is contested by other Pratt family researchers. To present it as a “fact” is misleading, and to some constitutes questionable scholarship. Compton, for example, includes Mary Ann as one of Joseph’s “possible” wives.

    In his introduction, George states that “we are able to know both the facts and the human emotions.” This is one of the weaknesses of the book. He approaches his interpretation of events with such surety, often telling the reader what was on Joseph’s mind as he performed certain actions. Yet how can he be so very unequivocal in describing the Nauvoo polygamists’ human emotions and motivations, not to mention historical events which are described differently by sources removed from the events by many years?

    Those were just some of my thoughts on reading the book. It is not that I don’t think it is important and definitive, as the first book addressing Nauvoo polygamy outside of Joseph Smith. Tom, your comments here and in other places reveal a strong defensive stance toward this book. I’ve wondered what has you so invested in this particular work, given your connection with so many others over the years. Interesting.

    Comment by Bored in Vernal — September 29, 2009 @ 6:30 pm

  29. Tom: I agree with Bored in Vernal. The problems go way beyond typos and incomplete footnotes as you suggest. G. Smith takes quotes out of context, misconstrues and changes their meaning with omissions, suggests improper settings and motives and engages in inuendo as argument. In my view, the book is an embarrassment to Signature and to JWHA for giving this award to it. In my view, JWHA loses credibility with such an award.

    Comment by Blake — September 29, 2009 @ 11:52 pm

  30. Jared T. “slams not from CES types, but academics whose opinions I respect.”

    Isn’t that a slam?

    Comment by Blake — September 30, 2009 @ 12:01 am

  31. Blake, what’s your point?

    Comment by Jared T — September 30, 2009 @ 12:40 am

  32. Maybe CES types are due a little respect too?

    Comment by Blake — September 30, 2009 @ 12:47 am

  33. Yea, but I never repudiated slams all around. So what’s the point of citing that comment and then asking if it’s a slam?

    Comment by Jared T — September 30, 2009 @ 12:52 am

  34. Are you slamming all CES types as unworthy of having opinions you respect? I agree you haven’t repudiated slams. For all I know, maybe you believe that CES types should be slammed.

    Comment by Blake — September 30, 2009 @ 1:00 am

  35. BTW Jared, nothing I have said about G Smith’s award should be read to diminish the significance of your award. Congratulations!

    Comment by Blake — September 30, 2009 @ 1:04 am

  36. Blake, I think you’re reading way too much into that. As Vickie pointed out, there is a concern that the book’s critics might be critical because of some ax to grind with George. I’d lump (whether properly or no) CES types and FARMS Types in this category–a negative response was a given no matter if the book was actually good. As all generalizations, of course there are exceptions.

    So, my point was that the criticisms I’ve heard aren’t coming from the obvious source, but from people who I know and whose opinions I respect, and (in theory) less easily dismissed by those who like the book. I don’t think that needs to be read as any slam against CES/FARMS types.

    And thank you for the words of congratulations.

    Comment by Jared T — September 30, 2009 @ 1:25 am

  37. Jared: Your point is well taken. Knowing what axe one carries is important to know what direction the branches will fall.

    Comment by Blake — September 30, 2009 @ 1:48 am

  38. Congratulations!

    Comment by DKL — October 4, 2009 @ 11:58 pm

  39. Thanks, DKL.

    Comment by Jared T — October 5, 2009 @ 12:01 am


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