“The World Needs More Books Like…”: Jon Butler Reviews Spencer Fluhman

By July 9, 2013

FluhmanWe’re taking a break from our politics theme to highlight a recent review of Spencer Fluhman’s Peculiar People: Anti-Mormonism and the Making of Religion in Nineteenth-Century America (Chapel Hill, 2012) by Jon Butler. Fluhman, who teaches history at BYU, is, as many of our readers know, a mentor to most JIers, and a leading voice in the new generation of Mormon scholarship; he is also the new editor of Mormon Studies Review, which releases its first issue in December. Butler, recently retired at Yale, is considered one of the deans of American religious history, and whose books have worked to shape the field. (I recently attended his retirement conference and wrote a recap at The Junto.)

The review is found at the Journal of Interdisciplinary History, and starts with gushing praise: “The world needs more books like Fluhman’s deft account of nineteenth-century anti-Mormon literature and the fascinating American dialogues about religion that anti-Mormonism produced. Interdisciplinarity and historicity thrive simultaneously in A Peculiar People, and Fluhman’s marvelously succinct book as much elevates him as a historian of synoptic breadth as it uplifts his subject.” Butler also calls it “the quintessential history book.” High praise, indeed.

\TsclientcWellington Work...Perhaps most important and revealing about this review is that it demonstrates how the best works in Mormon studies are speaking to broader issues and questions; Butler emphasizes that Fluhman’s main achievement is not the exhaustive overview of anti-Mormon literature, though there is that, but “its contribution to understanding the concept of religion in nineteenth-century America.” This is where archival scholarship, imaginative interpretation, sophisticated theory, and broad scope meet.

To get such high praise from one of the leading figures in the field can be a pinnacle moment for any scholar. Huzzah for Fluhman!

(If your institution has access to Project MUSE, you can read the entire review here.)

Article filed under Miscellaneous


  1. Congrats to Spencer, indeed!

    Comment by Amanda HK — July 9, 2013 @ 10:41 am

  2. Congratulations, Spencer! Thanks for highlighting this, Ben.

    Comment by J Stuart — July 9, 2013 @ 11:06 am

  3. Wow, that is awesome. Congratulations on doing such fine work!

    Comment by Jacob Smith — July 9, 2013 @ 11:50 am

  4. Congratulations to Dr Fluhman!

    Comment by Edje Jeter — July 9, 2013 @ 12:00 pm

  5. Thanks for highlighting this. The books is so popular it has been recalled from me by my university library twice!

    Comment by Natalie R — July 9, 2013 @ 1:54 pm

  6. This is so great. Congrats, Spencer.

    Comment by David G. — July 9, 2013 @ 4:59 pm

  7. Wonderful. Thanks for highlighting the review, Ben.

    Comment by Christopher — July 9, 2013 @ 9:11 pm

  8. I knew Spence when he was but a young pup, as he watched me drop his perfectly targeted TD passes on the concrete gridiron outside the Omni hotel in Indianapolis. He hid well the rage he must have felt, and focused it instead on his writing brilliance.

    Comment by Paul Harvey — July 9, 2013 @ 9:40 pm

  9. Great venue, great reviewer, great review. Thanks for pointing this one out, and Author, author!

    Comment by Tona H — July 10, 2013 @ 7:32 am

  10. Wow. That’s a good review.

    Comment by Max — July 10, 2013 @ 11:48 am

  11. Congrats Spencer! And Paul, that’s a lovely reminiscent!

    Comment by Tod Robbins — July 11, 2013 @ 10:17 am

  12. […] Tod Robbins: "The World Needs More […]

    Pingback by Juvenile Instructor » Guest Post: Bradley Kime on Mormonism in Thomas Albert Howard?s God and the Atlantic — July 11, 2013 @ 6:20 pm

  13. This is fantastic! Congratulations to Spencer, and thanks to JI for the notice. Cheers.

    Comment by Tom S. — July 22, 2013 @ 6:50 am


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