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Posted November 7, 2012
A Rich Portrayal of Humanity and History November 4, 2012
Jensen has managed to weave a richly complex story about a multifarious and little known piece of American history, the Mormon Wars. The true historical events portrayed in the book, around which the fictional characters face personal, cultural, religious and violent conflict, may be interpreted to be the result of any of several factions trying to establish dominance and a desired society at the time. Depending on one's perspective, the Mormons, Missourians or Native Americans might be perceived as innocent victims or threatening aggressors. What Jensen manages to do so well is peel away the layers of history, political and social correctness and institutional influences (such as the preferences of the Mormon Church in which he was raised before his beliefs evolved into something more personal and intuitive.) His characters are not simply stock figures reflecting the most obvious representation of Mormons, Protestants, Native Americans and so forth, but rather they are complex entities who must struggle to sort out the bombardment of moral and social influences that abounded at the time.
The book is meticulously researched and the events are portrayed with the specificity of a documentarian who was perhaps imbedded into the so-called war and society itself. Each main character is skillfully written as both sympathetic and flawed allowing the reader to get caught in the inexplicable social quagmire represented in the book. It is full of hard working and (sometimes) harder drinking homesteaders who consider themselves the rightful residents of Missouri and square off against the newly arrived religious fundamentalists looking to form an impossibly perfect society, while the indigenous people are forced to succumb to both of these invading factions. Amongst it all, Jensen manages to provide moments of great humanity and humility, simple emotion and even the love for and loyalty of a faithful dog. Adder in the Path is a fine novel that is easy to read, historically enlightening and rooted in the deep emotional history that, to this day, influences the Mormon culture and (in their words) the "Gentiles" who, 180 years later, are still leery of the tightly managed and close-knit Mormon institution.
Posted July 18, 2012
A compelling story focusing around two families in Missouri, [one Mormon and the other "gentile"]. The events leading up to and including the Missouri War blend the story of the families with historical facts. I could hardly put this book down. The history is fascinating to me, but the book could easily stand on its own as a readable piece of fiction. Gives a good perspective of the turmoil surrounding the movement of the Mormons to "Zion".Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 5, 2012
This book gives you the real history and keeps it interesting with a very good story. I'm sure some will take offense to somethings that are written but the facts are facts and this is the way history should be portrayed. Good reading and hard to put down.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 7, 2012
Working just a few miles from where the Mormon War took place (1838, Ray, Caldwell and Daviess counties in Missouri), I was familiar with some of historical background to the conflict between the settlers and the Mormons. But as it is with much historical writing, the recitation of fact, names and dates can make for very dull reading.
William Jensen, a first-time author from Utah, found a solution in his fictional "Adder in the Path", published by Belle Isle Press on June 1. Using the fictional accounts of a splintered family and a budding romance, Jensen manages to tell absorbing stories while remaining true to the historical record.
The 254-page fruit of his labor is the story of two families, one Mormon, the other "gentile". The families are caught in the suspicion and intolerance of the time, and both pay dearly.
A former history graduate student and a visitor to the area in which the Mormon War took place, he brings life to what otherwise could be a dull recounting of what's known about the war.
In addition to his fictional characters, Jensen weaves in characterizations of actual figures from the war, including the Mormon leaders and Alexander Doniphan, a military man and lawyer to whom the leadership owed its lives. In was Doniphan who refused a governor's order that the leaders be executed.
Jensen's own love for nature and the countryside comes through clearly in his narrative, especially the wanderings of Jake, one of the protagonists for whom the war brings personal heartbreak.
"Adder in the Path" gives the reader a feeling of being there, which traditional historical writing often does not. Jensen's book took a while to hit the shelves. Now that it's there, those who read it will be that much better off.