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Most Mormons and non-Mormons know that believers of the Church of Latter-Day Saints were driven out of several states before settling in Utah and that Joseph Smith, their founding prophet, was killed while he was a prisoner. For many, however, the context that led to the fatal June 1844 confrontation in Carthage, Illinois remains vague. Alex Beam's American Crucifixion moves beyond generalities to vividly present both sides of the escalating tension between Smith's Nauvoo state-within-a-state and the enemies that surrounded it. His narrative will not completely please either the LDS faithful or their disparagers, but it does clarify the chronology leading to this tragic event. Editor's recommendation.