In January, Penguin Random House released A House Full of Females: Plural Marriage and Women’s Rights in Early Mormonism, 1835-1870 by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich (Harvard University). The publisher’s description follows:
From the author of A Midwife’s Tale, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the Bancroft Prize for History, and The Age of Homespun–a revelatory, nuanced, and deeply intimate look at the world of early Mormon women whose seemingly ordinary lives belied an astonishingly revolutionary spirit, drive, and determination.
A stunning and sure-to-be controversial book that pieces together, through more than two dozen nineteenth-century diaries, letters, albums, minute-books, and quilts left by first-generation Latter-day Saints, or Mormons, the never-before-told story of the earliest days of the women of Mormon “plural marriage,” whose right to vote in the state of Utah was given to them by a Mormon-dominated legislature as an outgrowth of polygamy in 1870, fifty years ahead of the vote nationally ratified by Congress, and who became political actors in spite of, or because of, their marital arrangements. Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, writing of this small group of Mormon women who’ve previously been seen as mere names and dates, has brilliantly reconstructed these textured, complex lives to give us a fulsome portrait of who these women were and of their “sex radicalism”–the idea that a woman should choose when and with whom to bear children.
This November, Routledge Press will release “Brigham Young: Sovereign in America” by David Vaughn Mason (Rhodes College, Tennessee). The publisher’s description follows:
Brigham Young was one of the most influential—and controversial—Mormon leaders in American history. An early follower of the new religion, he led the cross-continental migration of the Mormon people from Illinois to Utah, where he built a vast religious empire that was both revolutionary and authoritarian, radically different from yet informed by the existing culture of the U.S. With his powerful personality and sometimes paradoxical convictions, Young left an enduring stamp on both his church and the region, and his legacy remains active today.
In a lively, concise narrative bolstered by primary documents, and supplemented by a robust companion website, David Mason tells the dynamic story of Brigham Young, and in the process, illuminates the history of the LDS Church, religion in America, and the development of the American west. This book will be a vital resource for anyone seeking to understand the complex, uniquely American origins of a church that now counts over 15 million members worldwide.
On January 17, HarperCollins released The Real Romney, a new biography of the sometime Republican primary front-runner by Boston Globe reporters Michael Kranish and Scott Helman, whose research adds an interesting supplement to Laurie Goodstein’s recent article in the New York Times (see the CLR discussion of Goodstein’s article here). The Real Romney pays significant attention to the Romney family’s foundational role in the Latter Day Saint Movement. In a January 19 interview on NPR’s Fresh Air, Kranish stated that he and Helman focused on Romney’s “ancestral story . . . because through that story [one] can really understand the story of Mormon[ism]”; and, according to Kranish, Romney’s family history is one “intertwined” with “Mormon life.” (If nothing else, the Fresh Air interview is, in itself, fascinating.)
Kranish and Helman reveal that the Romney family was acquainted with Joseph Smith and Brigham Young in the early days of the LDS Movement, founded a new Mormon community in Mexico, practiced polygamy in the nineteenth century, and advocated for progressive reforms within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints during the twentieth century.
For more on Kranish and Helman’s take on the Romney family and its continuing and significant involvement with the LDS movement, please follow the jump. Read more