Wednesday, January 22, 2014

American Crucifixion by Alex Beam

I saw this book on NetGalley and thought it looked interesting. It's supposed to be about how the murder of Joseph Smith led to a change in the Mormon Church and made it what it is today. It turned out to be a bit larger than that, with an introduction of how Mormonism came about up to the aftermath of the Church.

And it was a very gripping read.

This book explains how Joseph Smith became an outcast, and how his vocal enemies finally killed him, vigilante style. And with his sudden death, the Mormon Church was lost and there was a brief leadership struggle. There were those who support polygamy, and those that didn't. And it didn't help that Joseph Smith publicly condemned polygamy, but then secretly went around marrying his many wives and even trying to seduce a few of the elder's wives.

It seems to me that it's in the later years of Joseph Smith's life that he radically departs from mainstream Christianity. True, the whole Angel Moroni visitation is a direct contradiction of the words in the book of Revelation, but it's not till his later years that his theology veers off into a completely different direction and ends up becoming a whole new religion.

Personally, the one that I sympathise with the most is his wife Emma, who stuck with him his whole life, and ended up fooling herself into believing that he never strayed from their marital bed. She obviously loved her husband a lot.

This is a very interesting and readable account of the history of the Mormon Church. If you have any interest in Mormonism, you might want to pick this book up.

Disclaimer: I got a free galley from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

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