As I have been reading massive amounts of books on American History in preparation for my first PhD Comprehensive exam, I have started to ponder about the ways which historians have examined Mormonism as part of larger narrative in American History, Western History, the History of American Religion, or the History of Religion in general. I was reading through Battle Cry of Freedom the other day and was surprised to find that McPherson placed Joseph Smith and Mormonism into his narrative as part of the Western expansion that preceded the Civil War. His coverage isn’t extensive, but he does track the Mormons from New York to Ohio to Missouri and then to Salt Lake City. 
Last semester I read Timothy Marr’s The Cultural Roots of American Islamicism which tries to frame American attitudes towards Mormonism in the later 19th century within a tradition of American fascination and disdain of Muslims. To Marr, Mormons represented the American reincarnation of the dreaded Muslim horde with their harems, their gold-ceilinged tabernacles, and their American Mohammed (Joseph Smith/Brigham Young).  Some other historians that I can think of off the top of my head that have included Mormonism in greater narratives effectively include Patricia Limerick, Donald Worster, and Nathan Hatch.  So my questions for this post are: which historian (it doesn’t have to be one of the ones I’ve already named) has most effectively incorporated the history of Mormons into a larger world, national, or religious narrative? Which historians do you think have really “gotten” Mormons? Why are some effective and others not? I really want to know what everyone else thinks.
 James M. McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (New York:Oxford University Press, 1988), 43-45.
 Timothy Marr, The Cultural Roots of American Islamicism (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 185-218.
 Patricia Limerick, The Legacy of Conquest: The Unbroken Past of the American West (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1987); Donald Worster, Rivers of Empire: Water, Aridity, and the Growth of the American West (New York: Pantheon Books, 1985); Nathan Hatch, The Democratization of American Christianity (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989).